The german online news portal golem.de covers today a story (german only) about the terms a computer magazine has to agree to when it wants to publish Microsoft’s Office 2007 on a magazine CD. The information are comming from the wide spread computer magazine computerbild which reports about the problems it had with Microsoft about this topic.
Here a short abstract:
The pre-version of the article about Office 2007 must be propounded to Microsoft for “examination and comment” and has to “cooperate” in case of problems. The reason is that mis-information regarding the product should be avoided as well as degradation of Microsoft or any of its programs. A worse part is this: the contract a magazine has to sign to get the right to publish Office 2007 also contains text passages as examples how it has to be.
And, last but not least: Open Source programs are forbidden on the magazine CD, especially OpenOffice.
This sounds like censorship.
But in the meantime there are the first comments available, and a good one is this (german only): publishing contracts are usual in a way and are apart of the daily work of every IT magazine. It is good behaviour to give software producers the possibility to answer critics. And the fact that no Open Source software is allowed on one CD just means that additional software has to be on a second medium.
Additionally you have to know that computerbild is a little bit angry with Microsoft because they had no exclusive rights to publish Office 2007 – they got it for a specific Windows XP version last time. Keep this in mind, Computerbild would most probably have praised Office 2007 when they have had these exclusive rights, and they would have signed every contract I gues…
Nevertheless the question is now how such contracts normally look like, and how the contract of Microsoft looks like.
One IT magazine, the c’t, published Office 2007 with an additional review, and the first comments to this review are speaking about a unusual non-criticising article.
And although the c’t has now responded (german only) in their forum that they were not influenced by Microsoft, I would like to know how many other articles in the magazine were changed or which parts Microsoft wanted to be changed. c’t has a security sub-section which was sponsored (or still is?) for a long time by Microsoft. That does not have to mean anything, but it does not smell right.
Additionally the c’t editors say that they had a complete alternative version of their magazine ready to print, just in case – I cannot imagine that this is normal behaviour in this business, so their must have been something strange with the Microsoft contract.
For me the whole story is nothing really surprising – but I was hoping at least for some days that there is a change somewhere at Microsoft, around the Port 25 lab maybe, or around the one or the other blogger. It looks again too much like that there is no change at all – there are probably good guys at Microsoft, but the main direction of the company, and that is what counts, works against competitors with every method available, and does not care if they are criminal or not.