I didn’t get one. Back in the 1990s I got lots of stuff from lots of vendors. Once Budweiser sent me a case of beer, to celebrate the launch of their Web site. Other vendors have given me t-shirts and tchotsches of all descriptions. C|Net, which seems especially moved by the latest prize, gave me an anorak.
A C|Net respondent who dubs himself Quietleader gets closest to the heart of the matter:
When I meet (socially) with editors and journalists from the computer industry, the conversation often turns to the latest Microsoft gift for editors: free trips to the Bahamas, high-end parties at world-famous resorts, private rock concerts with bands like Green Day and The Beach Boys. (Of course, MS calls these editor/analyst briefings) And there’s not a single editor at magazines like "PC World" or "PC Magazine" who hasn’t willingly accepted these gifts from Microsoft.
Actually it goes much further than that.
Back when the company had an enormous ecosystem of software vendors dependent on it huge magazines were published around Microsoft software. Ziff-Davis, IDG and CMP got rich publishing these magazines. And editors there were necessarily reluctant to print anything against the company. When Microsoft PR said "no" to a story it generally meant no, truth be damned.
It was this inherent corruption that caused these firms to fall as soon as the gravy train stopped at the turn of this century. Other magazines, which had credibility with their readers, were less impacted. But trade papers are, by their nature, dependent on the trade for their business, and when your trade is dominated by a major vendor that means you’re beholden.
Now is there a difference between a blogger (who Microsoft research previously showed was favorably disposed toward them) taking a laptop and travel magazines accepting free trips, or fashion magazines free dresses?
It’s the readers who decide. Fawning coverage of anyone is always transparent. Propaganda is usually easy to spot. And the blogosphere itself is far too large, varied and diverse to bribe effectively.
These things tend to correct themselves.