Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the if-you-can't-beat-em-get-a-bigger-stick dept.

353

HangingChad writes "ComputerWorld is running an article about Microsoft's latest type of sales force scare tactic. Apparently Microsoft is using the new title of 'engagement manager' to attempt sales via intimidation. From the article: 'Indeed, according to Microsoft's Web site, the responsibility of someone with Lawless' title of "engagement manager" is to "perform as an integrated member of the account team, drive business development and closing of new services engagements in targeted accounts."'"

cancel ×

353 comments

Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (-1, Troll)

windowpain (211052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303871)

This is something new and intimidating?

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (2, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303881)

RTFA. She was threatening license audits.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (1, Funny)

windowpain (211052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303903)

Account manager + Microsoft = inevitable underhanded tactics.

It's just Bill and his minions being their autistic, demanding, clueless selves.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (2, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303949)

Sure by saying this I will be labeled as a Microsoft lover and what not... but honestly... I fail to see the problem here.

It would be irresponsible for Microsoft NOT to investigate allegations of piracy at this level as was likely the initial cause of the emails in question. Sure they could turn it over to the BSA, however for all we know this could have been a report to a person who was ill-informed of the proper procedure for relaying reports of piracy and took it upon themselves to investigate.

After such an investigation both parties tend to want the violator to be legit so having access to a sales department (or being within one) does help that make that easier afterwards.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (3, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304026)

After such an investigation both parties tend to want the violator to be legit so having access to a sales department (or being within one) does help that make that easier afterwards.

The problem is she wasn't satisfied with the same evidence the BSA would have been. The BSA would have taken the evidence of the audit, ran off to check it against Microsoft's records, and be done with it. She rejected the evidence and tried to send a SPY into his organization.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304119)

Imagine that they invited the consultant over, and on his arrival, took him into the *server* room which happens to be in the basement, and locked him up. Then get back to lawless saying the consultant never arrived. After how many consultants do you think M$ will give up?
    Or cut a deal with the consultant and claim to have an excessive number of licenses that can be sold in the secondary market unless a refund is provided.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (2, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304253)

You've been reading BOFH [theregister.com] I see....

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304155)

She rejected the evidence and tried to send a SPY into his organization.

OK, but reading the article, I kept thinking to myself, "Who takes these kinds of jobs, and why do they try so hard at them?"

Are these people on commission or are they just naturally assholes and like it that way?

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304226)

Chances are option #2- just like when the guy who wrote "Thank you for not smoking" asked the lobbyist why she did what she did "It's a way to pay the mortgage". Pretty bad that we're in a culture where there are so few jobs that those who are good at sales have to work on commission and be total assholes- but that's what you get for outsourcing almost everything else a person can do to earn a living. They take the job because they have to- they're paid on commission to convince them to set asside their ethics for bigger sales.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (1)

mattkinabrewmindspri (538862) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304003)

I've always wondered(and this is a serious question, so please forgive my ignorance), what makes business owners comply with a BSA license audit?

If I own a business, I wouldn't want anyone who didn't work for me to touch any of my computers, much less use them, and much less go snooping around on them looking for something to incriminate me or my business. I assume most business owners feel the same way.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304061)

Good question. You'd think they would require some kind of court order. Maybe the BSA threatens to sue.

-matthew

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304077)

Usually the threat of Litigation. I'm not sure what the penalties for an unlicensed copy of windows xp/office/whatever, but I'm sure its more expensive than 500 bucks a copy.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304094)

Fear? The fact that the BSA has a reputation for levying six-digit fines probably plays a role, although how they could legally do that without involvement from the courts is somewhat beyond me.

Re:Uhh. Yeah. It's called an account manager. (2, Insightful)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304225)

It's entirely possible that this was simply the act of one stupid account manager who is very aggressive and should probably be fired. People often make the mistake of assuming that [giant organization] is a unified organism with a singular purpose. The reality is that every organization is made up of individuals, each of whom has their own distinct desires and ambitions, and personality traits. It's not at all unusual for a sales manager to say something really, really stupid, as probably every person here can confirm.

It's not new, but not every has experienced it. (5, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304053)

Microsoft has been doing this for years.

But not every one of their customers has experienced it. So it is "new" to them.

The reality is that many of Microsoft's customers are "pirates" but only in the sense that they do not keep the kind of records that Microsoft demands when doing an audit.

It isn't enough to have the box the software came in, along with the hologram and the license certificate and so on and on and on.

You also need to be able to PROVE that all of that isn't fake.

And since Microsoft specifically REFUSES to track the license keys and such, the only way to "prove" that the software is legit is to have the original sales receipt from an approved Microsoft vendor.

And that's even if you're not really pirating their software. In past versions, they've made it as easy as possible for companies to pirate their stuff AND as difficult as possible for companies to ensure that they are in compliance without spending lots of hours recording and checking their licenses.

So, even if you had 50 machines and you had bought 50 licenses ... you were out of compliance if:

#1. Those licenses couldn't be found.
#2. Those licenses weren't matched to receipts from MS vendors.
#3. The machines had been "imaged" with a common image without purchasing the MS license agreement that authorized that.

It's all about driving sales.

Looks like the MS fanboys have mod points. (-1, Troll)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304197)

If you don't like the facts, that doesn't change the facts.

Just keep mod'ing down anyone who posts facts you don't agree with.

You can't just put a standard "image"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304266)

Wow... I didn't realize that you needed a special license to be able to setup a standard image as long as you had the right number of licenses.

it's all about obfuscation (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303875)

What's up with Microsoft? I would recommend Thomas Peters' "In Search of Excellence" for their review. While I wouldn't agree 100% with all of "Search...", there are anecdotes and good evidence around "customer service", and what makes a company excellent.

Creating adversarial relationships, especially ones where Microsoft as much as accuses a customer of piracy (are we sure Microsoft hasn't purchased RIAA yet?) cultivates resentment and long term rot.

And now, Microsoft is creating account team members whose sole function is to instill FUD in their customer, intimidating them into shelling out even more money for services to ensure Microsoft checks and balances are in Microsoft's favor? Sheesh. This is a scam, pure and simple. As the article points out, if Microsoft truly thinks something is amiss "it sics the Business Software Alliance on the company. It doesn't turn the matter over to one of its sales managers".

Maybe Microsoft is doing this to themselves inadvertently, or maybe it's a strategy. From the Fine Article:

When I phoned Lawless to find out, she referred me to Microsoft's PR machine. The responses I got through that channel stressed that Microsoft's aim is to help customers navigate the complexities of software licensing and that one of the roles of engagement managers is to assist in that effort by informing customers of a potential licensing risk. I was told to attribute the responses to Lawless.

Microsoft's "complexities of software licensing" are the seed of irritation. Accusing customers of ripping them off because they can't figure these complex licenses out entirely is the fertilizer to grow that seed into full blown resentment.

If there were any real alternatives to technology in today's Microsoft dominated juggernaut, these "practices" would send customers screaming to the competition. Unfortunately, so far, there aren't.

You must be new here (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303970)

If there were any real alternatives to technology in today's Microsoft dominated juggernaut, these "practices" would send customers screaming to the competition. Unfortunately, so far, there aren't.

Well, there is this interesting operating system that I heard about on this website called "slapdash" or something like that. Seems like it scales pretty well and some big computer companies like IBM are playing around with it.

I think it was called 'Linux' - could be wrong about that.

Re:You must be new here (-1, Flamebait)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304211)

To be completely honest, you're only lying to yourself by saying that Linux is a real alternative to Windows right now. Yes, it's "an" alternative, but not a "real" alternative. I can assure you that Ma and Pa Jones have absolutely no intention of fucking around in a console to do otherwise-basic operations using operators that make no sense whatsoever (obviously, grep is derived from grope, which translates to searching in a rather stimulating manner - the search is obvious, and you give your hard drive and CPU a workout). Hate or deny it as much as you want, but until Linux is remotely user-friendly, it'll stay with the hardcores and the servers. OSX could well find a decent spot in the marketplace, but FOSOSs have a ways to go before they can really become a viable alternative.

Re:You must be new here (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304302)

We weren't talking about Ma and Pa Jones. Do you really have that short of an attention span? This article is about businesses. It's quite viable for a number of people in business, where you have an IT support infrastructure. It's just inertia that keeps them with what they're used to in probably 70% of cases that really don't use anything Microsoft-specific. (bear in mind all numbers come directly out of my ass, but are based in experience). I'd say that with tactics like this, MS is doing the hard work and making it easier for people to go against the inertia.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304035)

If there were any real alternatives to technology in today's Microsoft dominated juggernaut, these "practices" would send customers screaming to the competition. Unfortunately, so far, there aren't.

sure there are alternatives! They just aren't the easiest of them all, and that's where Microsoft really holds everyone in a stranglehold is that they have made everything "easier for everyone". I fully believe that everyone out there really wants to break away from Microsoft, just not everyone is willing to put the effort into it since its no easy undertaking at the moment. Given the choice to make a life size statue of Jesus out of Legos or a 4 inch model of Satan out of marshmellows, most would rather just go ahead and do the latter.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (5, Insightful)

throx (42621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304178)

I fully believe that everyone out there really wants to break away from Microsoft...

Actually, I disagree. Most people don't actually care. There's even a hell of a lot out there that actually love Microsoft products (they're an American company, wave flag, etc.), and another very large set that just likes the idea that a single source solution tends to play pretty well with itself.

Part of the problem for the alternate systems is to actually convince people that the MS monopoly is bad for them.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (4, Insightful)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304290)

Part of the problem for the alternate systems is to actually convince people that the MS monopoly is bad for them.

No, that attitude is the problem itself. Trying to sell a product on the basis of "It's not Microsoft" doesn't work in the real world because Microsoft is not percieved to be any worse of a problem than the Electric Company/other benevolant monopoly.

The Linux world focuses far too much on the negatives about MS and Windows and far too little on whatever positives they have. It's not hard to read between the lines and realize that even the stalwart Linux advocates don't believe in the product on it's own merits.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304036)

Microsoft's aim is to help customers navigate the complexities of software licensing and that one of the roles of engagement managers is to assist in that effort by informing customers of a potential licensing risk

or the Sopranos version

Wes offer yous a security plan to make sure nothing bad happens to yous or your family. God forbid.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (0, Redundant)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304146)

This proves that Microsoft has never invented anything. Have you ever delbt with Oracle's sales department?

Re:it's all about obfuscation (5, Interesting)

Fanboy Troy (957025) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304177)

Actually your post reminded me of a bookmark I had laying around quite a while about why Ernie Ball dumped microsoft [com.com] . FTA:

...Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. "I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'" recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly."

...What I really thought is that you ought to treat people the way you want to be treated. I couldn't treat a customer the way Microsoft dealt with me...I went from being a pro-Microsoft guy to instantly being an anti-Microsoft guy...

Re:it's all about obfuscation (5, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304180)

Don't make the mistake of thinking that Microsoft wants their customers to like them. Microsoft has several problems, some legit, and some they caused themselves.

The legit problems is that since they have a virtual monopoly their biggest compeditor is the version of Windows (or Office, etc.) they sold customers a few years ago. Hence the only way to grow is to "encourage" people to buy new software even if they don't really need it.

They have a history of upsetting their userbase. Given that they have a virtual monopoly they don't really care if their users like them. MS takes a corporate mafia approach to sales, trying to strong arm customers into paying them off. I've seen these articles in the nears every few years for most of the last decade.

I keep hoping it will drive defections to Apple's OS X or Linux.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304292)

It must be four years ago by now, but my spouse worked for the VA. When the VA decided that they didn't want to upgrade to microsofts latest OS they were told to expect to be audited. Good for them that they could account for each and every os on every box in the building. I am amazed they kept such good records. Some things that VA IT did very well. Spectacular. The MS team went into about every room in the complex. They were very disappointed.

This is old hat. Perhaps the level of intimidation is up due to some missed quota. So now they get a new title? That is a laugh.

Re:it's all about obfuscation (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304305)

As the article points out, if Microsoft truly thinks something is amiss "it sics the Business Software Alliance on the company. It doesn't turn the matter over to one of its sales managers".


I don't see much of a difference. The BSA is just a FUD agency anyways. They have no authority over anyone, you can very well have your security guards throw them out as they would any other trespassers. The BSA is paid by Microsoft and the other big cheeses to spread fear, but the only authority in any licensing dispute, or piracy claim for that matter, is a court of law.

Contracts in force between MS & AWC???? (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303877)

It may have changed since I last did one, but it used to be that if you had
a Select or Enterprise Agreement with MS, they had the right to audit
spelled out in the contract. The article is mum as to whether or not such
an agreement was in force between MS & AWC, though most companies of any
size have one or both agreements.

So, if MS has a Select or Enterprise Agreement with AWC, then MS is fully
within their right to request an audit and this is a non-news article.

Also, note that Computer World doesn't call this a "sales force scare
tactic" as the headline implies. That term isn't even used in the article.

Sales Force Scare Tactic. (3, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303985)

Winkydink says:

note that Computer World doesn't call this a "sales force scare tactic" as the headline implies. That term isn't even used in the article.

The article says:

The attorney, suspecting that Lawless' actions were part of an elaborate sales effort, basically told her to back off.

and it adds up:

The fact is, if Microsoft really has reason to believe that a company is using unlicensed copies of its software, it sics the Business Software Alliance on the company. It doesn't turn the matter over to one of its sales managers.

Telling your sales force to threaten and intimidate customers is a scare tactic designed to sell crap. These idiots think they have the world by the nuts.

The complexities of license compliance and the threat of a BSA raid is one of the best reasons to avoid the non free software offered by M$ and the other BSA member companies.

Idiots? (1, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304143)

These idiots think they have the world by the nuts.
They're only idiots if they don't have the world by the nuts.

Yes, Idiots. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304268)

They're only idiots if they don't have the world by the nuts.

That's wrong and they don't. It's been easy enough to escape their "product" for six year, as proved by Ball Guitar Strings [com.com] , GM, Lowes and many others. Even if it was difficult to get away, it's stupid to insult and harass your customers. You should not make customers angry enough to use abacuses when there are dozens of firms ready to replace your product with something that's cheaper and easier.

Re:Sales Force Scare Tactic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304246)

Anyone thinking of modding this person up needs to see these two posts from yesterday:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=185310&cid=152 98619 [slashdot.org]
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=185310&cid=152 98527 [slashdot.org]

This is not how we should be fighting Microsoft. No not mod these extremists up and give them a louder voice than the rest of us, please!

Yeah, the poor guy has lost it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304310)

Trolled to death [slashdot.org] . Kind of like Slashdot in general.

Re:Contracts in force between MS & AWC???? (5, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304027)

if MS has a Select or Enterprise Agreement with AWC, then MS is fully within their right to request an audit and this is a non-news article.
Hardly.

1. They did not request a 3rd party, independent audit. On the contrary, they claimed their in-house auditing service was the "only unbiased" audit, which is exactly 180-degrees from the truth; it's the very definition of bias.

2. They completely disregarded without even a glance the customer's legitimate efforts to demonstrate his legality. This shows MS was not in any way acting in good faith.

3. Any party that believes another has wronged them is obliged to take that grievance to the proper authorities, not threaten unilateral actions. What MS did here reeks of extortion; the threat of one-on-one remedies in order to coerce behavior without any involvement of the court system.

-Kurt

Re:Contracts in force between MS & AWC???? (3, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304128)

Neither my SA or EA say anything about "independent 3rd party audit". It says MS has the right to audit. Period. And unless your a Global 2000 company, good luck getting them to change so much as one puncutation mark on their contract.

Re:Contracts in force between MS & AWC???? (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304255)

Well then just bend over if you like it so much. Sheesh. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Hmm (3, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303890)

Hmm, so there's a shitbag working for Microsoft, which automatically allows us to draw conclusions X, Y, and Z about the entire company. Allllrightythen....*sigh*. Slow news day I guess.

Re:Hmm (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303971)

This is Slashdot - an anecdote is all that is required for proof. Unless it's an anecdote they disagree with. That's called a troll or flamebait here.

Re:Hmm (1)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304122)

Apparently, questioning the "one anecdote" policy here is also called a troll. I 3 Slashdot!

Re:Hmm (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304297)

This is Slashdot - an anecdote is all that is required for proof.

Well... To be fair... Anecdotal evidence is still evidence. ;)

Still if such behavior is allowed once, we can assume that it happens more than that and either a manager is over looking it, encouraging it, or isn't managing well enough to notice it.

As in, if one person in a company is a fucktard, then someone else is to blame that they are still working there... And that goes all the way up the chain to the CEO.

That Tru-Coat... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15303904)

You don't get that Tru-Coat, you get code oxidation problems. Yah.

Re:That Tru-Coat... (2, Funny)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304139)

Yup. Bit rot. Happens all the time with unlicensed code. No, really...

Re:That Tru-Coat... (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304314)

You betcha.

Perhaps they should provide reasons... (3, Insightful)

segfault_0 (181690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303916)

Perhaps Microsoft wouldn't seem like such a maniac for asking if they provided the predicates that caused the contact to be made. If they said that someone told us your not legal or you have registered 1000 machines and bought 900 licenses that would make sense - without this much i wouldnt even bother with corrosponding. They have nothing to lose by disclosing their concerns.

Meaningless blurb (5, Informative)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303921)

The blurb uses a lot of words to say very little.

From TFA, MS is sending their sales people after customers claiming the customer is not in license compliance and they need to send an inspection team in. They are very threatening, implying if the company doesn't comply, they'll face legal prosecution. Once the inspection team gets in, they try to get the customer to buy more products.

SOP (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304047)

From TFA, MS is sending their sales people after customers claiming the customer is not in license compliance and they need to send an inspection team in. They are very threatening, implying if the company doesn't comply, they'll face legal prosecution. Once the inspection team gets in, they try to get the customer to buy more products.

And they've been doing this for YEARS. It's nothing new. When we went to Notes from Exchange, it happened. It also hapened when we pased over SQL Server in favor of Oracle on a Windows platform.

Anybody who's been involved in purchasing licenses from Microsoft (or anyone else, for that matter) knows this,

Re:Meaningless blurb (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304074)

I would consider it to be a petty scare tactic. It doesn't make sense to try to sue your customer, and I don't think that any prosecutor would bother with this sort of case unless there is proof of infringement. BSA people can complain to the local Attourney General but unless there is some sort of proof.

Personally, I wouldn't allow any hostile entity into facilities entrusted to me unless there was a legitimate warrant of some kind. I think businesses are probably being smart enough to check with their legal counsel before being duped into allowing fishing expeditions.

bad summary. (5, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304082)

Once the inspection team gets in, they try to get the customer to buy more products.

They never got to that point because AWC's lawyer told them to stick it.

It it works like a BSA raid, M$ will get a court order for an inspection based on some kind of "evidence", which could be anything from an anonymous phone call by a disgruntled employee to some program the secretary installed phoning home. AWC would then have the choice of paying for the inspection or another even more expensive "service" from a list M$ offers. The raid itself would involve massive disruption of work.

This is the appropriate response [com.com] .

Re:Meaningless blurb (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304102)

Once the inspection team gets in, they try to get the customer to buy more products.

Can you please let me know how the heck do they convince the customer to buy more if he's totally legit?

And if he's not, buying the products he needs seems like the least evil that can happen to him (compared to legal prosecution).

Engage (1)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303935)

I heard this today so it must be one of the up-and-coming buzzwords.

Re:Engage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304068)

It's been on the Bullshit Bingo cards for quite some time.

Re:Engage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304250)


I heard this today so it must be one of the up-and-coming buzzwords.

Microsoft engagement managers will:

- optimize seamless communities
- generate vertical e-services
- leverage synergistic convergence

and, best of all,

- engage e-business content

That explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15303938)

I was thinking that the dress codes must have really slipped at MS when our new sales rep, Paulie, showed up in one of those nylon jogging suits. Bought x4 the normal number of XP cals. Should have them all sold by the time the inventory guy's knee tendons are healed.

Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (3, Interesting)

magicjava (952331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303943)

In all fairness, if you're going to post articles about MS doing this, you should post about other companies doing this as well.

Re:Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (1)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303958)


Who is "you"? If you know something and can back it up, then post it. Otherwise, STFU.

Re:Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (2, Informative)

magicjava (952331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304006)

Oracle's sales force hounded me for almost 3 months after I downloaded their free developers edition from their web site. They made the same claims. I wasn't properly licenced for the way I was using the database and I had to buy more products from them. Just for the record, I wasn't using the product at all. I never even got around to installing it. These tactics are well known, inside the software biz and outside it as well. Salesmen sell, that's their job.

Re:Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (3, Interesting)

ADRA (37398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304172)

You're example is quite different from the rest of the discussion:
1. You have no prior business arrangement with Oracle
2. You haven't bought the piece of software in question
3. You aren't required to have a software audit upon request
4. They have no reason to question that you're using the software correctly or not (since you never used it, there's no dial home)

There's a difference between
"Buy our software because you haven't, but you should, so do it!"
and
"We've been mulling it over in the ol' license factory and we think you're lieing when you say you're only using our software 5 times. We think you need to license 100,000,000 users since one server's SMB share is available to the internet serving pr0n (good pr0n btw). So instead of using high pressure marketing techniques which obviously aren't working, we're going to use our manifest right to invade your workplace to mandate what's needed for compliance the way we see it."

Yeah, I was ranting... /self-slap

Re:Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304223)

^ Oracle -- this happened to me as well. Took more than a year before their Indian reps stopped calling me.

A few years back, Sybase sent us a big box full of software unrequested. After that they hounded us for months and even sent some sales consultants over in person. I later heard that they were involved in an accounting fraud where they were booking revenue based on product demos.

Re:Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304073)

In all fairness, if you're going to post articles about MS doing this, you should post about other companies doing this as well.
So let's hear about them. C'mon, you know about them abviously, so let's see what you know. Who else in the software industry is using this or a similar tactic outside of the BSA procedures? I personally don't want to do business with companies like that, so inform me... and the rest of us.

Re:Microsoft Customers Balk at Hard Sell (1)

BarkLouder (916884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304156)

You must be new...... Welcome to /.

How biased can this website get? (-1, Troll)

Quintios (594318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303947)

Geez, why not change the title to "Pick on Microsoft AT ALL COSTS." Is there ANYONE that doesn't balk at a hard sell? Why not post something about how horrible car salesmen are? What about telemarketers that don't hang up and keep up the pressure on you even if you're trying to be polite and hang up the phone nicely? So an overzealous saleswoman gave someone the hard sell. So what? Happens all the time in many many different industries.

How is this news? I don't normally complain about articles; truthfully I hardly ever post, but this anti-MS stuff is getting pretty out of hand... Fact is, if that company WAS out of compliance, they'd be better served to get someone from MS in there to determine if they were or not because that's who is going to sue 'em. The fines can get pretty hefty. And if someone around there doesn't have the cojones to tell a salesperson "no" when they don't need something, then you need to fire whomever is running your IT dept.

Sheesh.

Re:How biased can this website get? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304031)

It becomes news when it's an official corporate sales strategy.

Re:How biased can this website get? (2, Insightful)

nitefly (899022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304046)

The difference is car salesmen and telemarketers don't promise lawsuits or criminal charges if you don't let them "audit" the PRIVATE information you have on your computers.

Re:How biased can this website get? (2, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304056)

"Geez, why not change the title to "Pick on Microsoft AT ALL COSTS." Is there ANYONE that doesn't balk at a hard sell? Why not post something about how horrible car salesmen are? What about telemarketers that don't hang up and keep up the pressure on you even if you're trying to be polite and hang up the phone nicely? So an overzealous saleswoman gave someone the hard sell. So what? Happens all the time in many many different industries."

I've never had a car salesman try to sell me a car by claiming I stole the one I'm driving from his lot...There's a huge gap between a "hard sell" and a baseless accusation... And a baseless accusation aimed at getting money out of someone is generally considered extortion.

Re:How biased can this website get? (1)

Temkin (112574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304092)

Fact is, if that company WAS out of compliance, they'd be better served to get someone from MS in there to determine if they were or not because that's who is going to sue 'em.



Actually... Some would say that's why Microsoft should be the last choice. If they're going to spend $$ investigating, they're going to do everything they can to recover the cost of the investigation at the very least.

If it were me, I'd prefer a neutral third party.

Re:How biased can this website get? (2, Interesting)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304103)

Good points. I thought the article might be a troll until I saw it was written by CW's editor in chief and then I became puzzled. I mean, it talks about one instance at one company where there was probably a little bit of ego brusing and some pissing contests going on. This was IMHO a personality conflict, not an intimidation crusade by Microsoft. The company owner must be a golf buddy of the author.

Seriously, if there were numerous reports of MS staffers showing up on company's doorsteps toting baseball bats, this would be news. But this situation is not. At my company, we have an Enterprise Agreement with MS which gives them the right to come on sight and audit our usage. We true-up at the end of each year based on what we're actually using and everyone goes home happy.

In this case, the guy in question should have just escalated this with Microsoft's management and tried to speak with someone more reasonable. The fact that he decided to call a lawyer first makes me think he was a little nervous about something he might have overlooked. Just my 2 centavos.

Re:How biased can this website get? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304116)

Fact is... If the company was in compliance they had no reason to be threatened by a sales puke at Microsoft. There is no reason that a vendor can have to force open the door of any company to take a look for evidence of non-compliance. An independant audit of the purchasing records is sufficient to prove compliance if a complaint is filed in a court of law.

As to the incessant Microsoft bashing... Would you rather the customer(s) just roll over on these items? The news never spread? A precedent be set to consider this decent and lawful behaviour? Any corporate employee that has a customer facing position in the company is a direct reflection on the corporation as a whole. Those sales pitches are scripted and required by management. If the leadership is evil then the corporate entity is evil. The only way to fight this kind of garbage is through education of the masses. If you don't care then don't read the article. This information is important to those that are fighting for a level playing field and more consumer choice in the marketplace. Simply because it isn't important to you doesn't mean it should be surpressed or ignored.

Re:How biased can this website get? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304130)

What, are you new here? No, by your slashdot ID, I'd say you've been around long enough to know this site has an anti Microsoft bias.

But all bias aside, this is a pretty egregious sales tactic. They are basically threatening their customers. I mean, when's the last time you heard of a used car salesman saying something like, "Well, the fromitz on your car is expired and the McPhearson Valve looks like it's ready to blow. You'd better leave it in our shop so we can see what else is wrong with it. We really can't let you drive that thing outta here, you'd better buy this new Vista Cruiser."

Used car salesmen can be seedy, but this takes the cake. No amount of excuses and afronted rhetoric from Microsoft flacks and fanboys will change the fact that this is far far worse than we typically see in the sleaziest of legitimate professions. It is more on par with the tactics of organized crime.

Been going on for a while now... (4, Informative)

BulletMagnet (600525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303955)

I've gotten I think 4 or so of these calls now. I answered the 1st one, and it turned out Redmond was trying to force a sale of MAS90 (Microsoft's accounting package) when I told them I worked for a construction company and we use an accounting package designed for Construction (Timberline) they said "we can make it work for a construction company" He got the hint after repeating "Not interested" 3 times.

I've had Reception add "any calls from Microsoft" to the forward straight to voicemail. If the BSA wants to talk to me about my license counts, I'm not one bit worried.

MAS90 made by MS? I think not. (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304076)

MAS90, MAS200, and MAS500 are made by Best Software (formerly Sage Software, though originally Best Software).

MS's accounting software is Dynamics. Redmond did not call you to sell a competitor's product.

Furthermore, MAS products are generally not sold directly by Best, they are sold via resellers.

You just happened to have an agressive sales person contact you, that's all. In no way is that trying to "force a sale." There was no implied threat of lawsuit for failing to have licenses or anything like that.

Re:Been going on for a while now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304083)

I answered the 1st one, and it turned out Redmond was trying to force a sale of MAS90 (Microsoft's accounting package) when I told them I worked for a construction company and we use an accounting package designed for Construction (Timberline) they said "we can make it work for a construction company"

Jesus Christ! Does your name end in a vowel? Does this MS dweeb watch the Sopranos?!?

I don't think that idiot knew that construction==mafia and that he came real close to being part of a foundation!

Re:Been going on for a while now... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304322)

I always just tell them that:

a) I don't have authority to make that purchasing descision (which technically isn't true)

b) All software descisions are made at the corporate level, so they;ll need to talk to corporate first. (It's like the proton meeting the anti-proton...Who cares who wins?)

c) I don't have any free money in the budget for this period (sometimes they call back after this one, so it's a last resort)

For god's sake don't stay on the phone with the jokers. Only bad things will come of that.

Brilliant (2, Interesting)

KevMar (471257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303964)

Its underhanded and brilliant at the same time.

Any company that knowingly (or thinks they are) in vialation will quickly signup for whatever universal license agreement that will cover them. Most of the time those people have already looked at the options and know what they need to do.

Unfortuanatly they did not back off when someone called the bluff. Know when to fold um.

Im not justifying it, im just saying its thinking outside the box. And i would guess that its very effective.
 

This is very common (2, Interesting)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303973)

It's bad enough when Microsoft strong-arms other software vendors into submission as a means of thwarting competition. But when it engages in underhanded tactics to intimidate users in order to land a software deal, we have a very disturbing situation on our hands. And someone needs to have the guts to speak out about it.

This is not uncommon. In fact, I don't know any super large company that would not put pressure on vendors and small companies that rely on the bigger ones. This is the case with so many other businesses and occurs everywhere in all countries. I used to work for a small business (~30 employed) and we had only one big client which will remain nameless, but you have all heard of it. Because they knew we needed them to survive, they delayed wirings and pushed us down to a stupid low cost production model. We basically had our salaries cut every year to survive at all. First they told us that they would find someone else or produce it on their own. We were forced to agree. Next, they stripped us down even further by announcing that they would no longer need our services. We were looking at a feasible bankrupcy here. Shortly after, a company affiliate purchased what was left, fired most of the staff and outsourced it.

I might add that this fit perfectly into the schedule of this company. Our products were updated once every 7 months, and it so happened that our services were not needed just after the last shipment. All in all, they just made us desperate, stripped us down and then bought what was left, acquired the technology and kicked most of us out.

I don't feel bad about this today, but I wish to inform you that this is not an uncommon phenomenon.

What has happened to Microsoft? (4, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303974)

Why the hell are they intimidating people?

Have they forgotten how effective BRIBING people can be?

Have all the creative people left the company?

Will someone PLEASE put Ballmer back in charge of Sales?

Re:What has happened to Microsoft? (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304196)

Have they forgotten how effective BRIBING people can be?

Gates didn't become the richest man in the world by giving money away.

Engagement? (5, Funny)

erbmjw (903229) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303975)

One definition is
a hostile encounter between military forces
Perhaps it should be expanded to include a hostile encounter by corporate forces

Ironic (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303983)

So the intimidation manager is actually named Lawless?

That's an aptonym if I ever heard one. (1)

Corf (145778) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304160)

Ahh, the lovely ironies of the world.

Nobody (4, Funny)

bahwi (43111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303989)

Nobody expects the MSFT Inquisition!

This is why many people to moving toward Linux. (1)

Dex5791 (973984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15303991)

If Microsoft wants to drive people more toward Linux and other Open-Source software, this is one sure fire way to do it. There whole licensing scam has made them a lot of money but also a lot of created quite a few resentful customers.

I am waiting for... (1)

eronysis (928181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304004)

I would like to be the first to welcome our new Account Overlords! kekekeke

Re:I am waiting for... (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304184)

That extra one billion dollars is so damm hard to aquire.

Familiar Story (1)

btavshan (699524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304007)

Sounds a lot like the biotech company I used to work for. When the IT department decided to switch a lot of the servers to linux and thus canceled the site license for MS software, we were immediately "accused" of "licensing incompliance". I believe it took a great deal of haranguing with salespeople to get their agents to back off...

Get legal! (4, Informative)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304023)

Not sure if your licenses are in order? Get legal [openoffice.org] .

PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN. Coffee is for closers. (-1, Offtopic)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304038)

Glengarry Glen Ross quotes:

"PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN. Coffee is for closers." -- Blake

"Your name is "you're wanting", and you can't play the man's game, you can't close them, and then tell your wife your troubles. 'Cause only one thing counts in this world: get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me you fuckin' faggots?" -- Blake

"You got leads. Mitch & Murray paid good money. Get their names to sell them. You can't close the leads you're given, you can't close shit, *you are* shit, hit the bricks pal, and beat it, 'cause you are going *out*. " -- Blake

Re:PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN. Coffee is for closers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15304150)

All good but you forgot the best line out of the movie, especially for any of us that have done those kinds of sales.

"A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing". -Blake

its all Xena's fault (0)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304105)

After the show finished .. she changed her first name to Janet [wikipedia.org] .. and now she works for Microsft

Balk? (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304114)

So what are the customers going to do? Stop using MS software?

Apparently they still haven't figured out who holds the whip. Microsoft is about to educate them.

Correct Response, ala Ernie Ball year 2000 (2, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304138)

How to really tell them to back off [com.com] . Saves money and time. Things have only gotten easier in the last six years.

Suddenly I am reminded of . . . (0, Offtopic)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304173)

"He will join us, or die!"

Although given the M$ icon here at /., perhaps:

"Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."

is more in order.

This is why.... (2, Funny)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304192)

Yet again, I can add another reason as to why I don't want MS in the gaming market. I mention this because MS is pushing Vista as the next best thing since sliced bread for gaming (if you haven't heard their nutjob sales reps going "DIRECT X 10 WOOOO!", just do a google search), and I'm sure they'll try to hook it up with the 360. This might be a little off-topic, but they and their "business" tactics need to be kept as far away from the still young gaming industry. You know that as soon as they get a foothold, they'll stop developement and real innovation and use the same strong-arm intimidation to keep developers and distributors in tow. Want to improve the image of games as an art form? Too bad, MS is pushing the same shit in HALO 12.

Here's the problem! (1)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304198)


Janet prefers to communicate in person and gets frustrated when people talk down to her:

https://portfolio.du.edu/pc/port?portfolio=jlawles s [du.edu]

Hmmm, I think google let me down this time...

I heard from these guys I think... (2, Interesting)

All Names Have Been (629775) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304203)

... I believe I've had contact with these jerks - I got a call from someone at MS stating that "They would like to help me ensure that we have the software we need for an organization our size." which quickly devolved into "send us copies of all your license certificates, then we'll send someone out to help check these against all your machines." (apparently they've got some tools for this?)

When nicely told to stick it, the final word from this ass was (and I quote) "How confident are you that you have everything in order?"

I'd really hate for something to happen to your nice store there, Mister. You sure you don't want to hire us to make sure nothing gets broken?

My advice: Ignore them and they will go away (5, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304240)

These has been a common tactic for years. I have trained all my higher-ups to ignore any offers to review licenses. Companies will call the higherups and tell them they can potentially save money by reviewing their licenses and getting into a new type of license program. Vendors are constantly switching license schemes e.g. network connections, to MIPS, to number of processors, to number of dual core processors, to number of instances.

Database vendors like Oracle also like to come in and do reviews/audits so they can help you save money and (sic) purchase the optimal license agreement. In reality, you already have the best license deal and the vendor wants to kill it and replace it with one that costs more.

We learned long ago that these sales weenies are just fishing for anyone who will talk to them. If you ignore them, they will go bug someone naive enough to talk with them. They have no legal authority and are, dare I say sharks, trying to rewrite your license agreement to get you to fork over more cash.

Stay legal on all your licensing and simply factor licenses into the purchase price of every machine. If you know that you purchase licenses with every machine and keep your license count current for upgrades and maintenance, the matter will take care of itself.

Note, young inexperienced managers will fall for the "cost savings" sales pitch quite often since they want to be perceived as doing something for the business. If they are foolish enough to start licensing conversations, make sure that you explain how much time and cost the audit process with take. Ask who is going to pay for the labor to install auditing software. Explain that vendors are not allowed access to servers and PCs. Ask them who is going to assume the security risk for any audit software and who will take responsibility if it causes problems in your production environment. After all, I am sure that all audit software is bulletproof and well written. Itemize all the costs and risks then make sure your manager's manager and/or customer see this risk/cost assessment.

My advice: Just ignore them and they will go away AND put your grumpiest and savviest technical manager in charge of any license renewals.

Hurm... not much news today, eh? (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15304298)

I have worked for several software companies, large to small. Any large company I have worked for has people who do this. Their goal is to get companies to purchase licensing to overcover in many cases the application.

Anybody here claiming MS created this, or pioneered it, or is even the worst at it, doesn't know the software industry and has never met many mainframe software salespeople.

Just MHO and I could be Crazy... WHich would also explain my being around here.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...