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Tuesday, September 08, 2009, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Microsoft unleashes retail talking points attacking Linux, Macs

In preparation for the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft has created ExpertZone "training courses" using controversial talking point programing to dissuade retail employees from selling customers Linux PCs or Macs, and arms them with "facts" to use in upselling Windows PC users on expensive service plans.

The private trainings consist of a series of claims about how Windows 7 compares to Linux or Apple's offerings, followed by a "quiz" that tells retail employees they are "incorrect" if they don't parrot back the talking points as their answers.

BestBuy and other retail employees can earn a $10 copy of Windows 7 for completing the training. The training course attacking Linux has been covered by other sources, including Overclock.net, where one reader commented, "I think I now know why, when I enter BestBuy, the employees say the odd lies that they do."

Microsoft is also publishing a series attacking Macs, and AppleInsider has obtained the first screenshots publicly published of this training series for retail employees. The first page of the course, outlining its "objectives," says customers get "a lot more computer with a Windows-based PC than a Mac," that PCs run more software programs and "come in a wide variety of colors and configurations," and claims that "customers have less to learn to get started with a Windows 7-based PC."

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


Save and Spend

"It's possible to get a PC with the same hardware specs as a Mac and save up to $300," the second page says, followed by the line, "By saving your customer money, it's easier to attach products and service plans to the sale."

Using BestBuy's GeekSquad service team, that $300 in customer savings will pay for two virus and spyware removal sessions. If the user wants help to install new software, BestBuy charges $50 per title extra. They'll configure a print server or "iTouch" to work on your home network for just $80 per device, and check the security of your network for another $80. They's walk you through how to use your iPod for $50, and provide a troubleshooting session for it for another $50. Email setup costs $50, and a troubleshooting session costs $70. The customer can also add a thirty minute "Windows basic training" and an half hour "Office troubleshooting session" for $50 each.

Microsoft's training does not note that the Apple Store provides these services for free (although Mac "virus and spyware removals" are not in big demand), it just suggests that BestBuy employees sell users on a cheaper PC that will stoke demand for overpriced support fees and service programs. Save customers "up to $300" on hardware, then talk them into spending more than that on PC maintenance.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


Our MobileMe is Free

On the third page of the training, Microsoft says, "Windows Live is FREE. Apple's online service costs $99/year." It outlines Windows Live features including Messenger IM and Hotmail, both of which are also free to Mac users.

Windows Live also includes applications that were formerly bundled with Windows Vista, but which are now a free but optional download for Windows 7. These include Windows Mail (formerly called Outlook Express; comparable to Mac OS X Mail.app), Windows Photo Gallery (comparable to iPhoto), Movie Maker (comparable to iMovie), Writer (comparable to iWeb) and Family Safety (a feature similar to Mac OS X's built-in Parental Controls).

Microsoft is comparing free software it removed from Windows Vista and turned into a optional download for Windows 7 with Apple's completely different MobileMe service. The apps Windows users must download from Windows Live are already bundled with new Macs, including others that Microsoft doesn't note, such as GarageBand, iDVD and Preview. Reviewers also don't equate Photo Gallery and Movie Maker to the richer feature set of iPhoto and iMovie.

Additionally, there's no comparison between MobileMe's actual features and Windows Live offerings. The free service Microsoft offers doesn't include anything comparable to iDisk, Back to My Mac, push-messaging and synchronized mobile and desktop calendars and contacts for cross platform users.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


On page 2 of 3: More colors and fine tuning; Personalize the PC; More software choices, particularly from Microsoft; More Games; and INCORRECT!