back to article Microsoft IE8 rolls out the astroturf

Microsoft is hawking the near-ready version of its Internet Explorer 8 browser at its staff in a desperate attempt to snatch back some of Mozilla’s growing market share. The company is asking its UK employees to take part in its very own astroturfing campaign by getting MS wonks to send out an email to at least ten soon to be …


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  1. Simon

    Please no useless bloat

    Ive just downloaded the latest Beta and will be summing up courage to try it out at some point.

    Will it be like all their other application updates?

    Suddenly extra features added that simply slow down your machine, making the old version feel more useable and easier. Having to crawl along at a slower pase until you can convince your boss that you need a faster machine.

    Please Microsoft can I have a new version thats trimmer and faster than the old version?

    First person who tells us how much better Opera is will get a punch in the throat.

    Thank god I don't know any friends who work at Microsoft if this news item is true, because after they have spammed me to death, I umm, wouldn't have any friends who work at Microsoft anymore...

  2. Robert Ramsay

    great quote

    "You know I work at Microsoft, and that I love technology," it reads. "Sometimes I love Microsoft technology so much that I can't wait to tell people about it, and this is one of those times. Microsoft has just released the Release Candidate 1 for Internet Explorer 8, and I think you should install it and use it today."

    "Then, come with me to the Scientologists and take one of their friendly, friendly personality tests"

  3. Lewis Mettler

    if you got IE...

    If you have a copy of IE (any version) your opinion just does not count.

    And now Microsoft wants all their employees to help supress any chance their friends might have had.

    It is bad enought that consumers have to pay cash for IE.

  4. Kenneth Chan
    Gates Horns

    MS coders Have Friends????

    Really, from the people who gave you Vista... Could you imagine...

    Hello (fill in the blank)

    Remember the Vista beta I send you a few years back? Well, to make up for that try IE 8 beta. It is way cooler....

  5. Peter Bradley
    Thumb Up

    MS plays catchup

    The article says:

    "It comes loaded with two modes for viewing sites. The default mode supports the latest web standards such as CSS 2.1, to help satisfy EU regulators."

    Well, actually, CSS3 is upon us (although I'm not totally sure of its status, I have to admit) and most browsers include at least some features of the latest standard. Rounded corners, anyone? I guess IE will catch up some day.

    Having said that, I checked IE8 RC1 on a few of my sites (all of which are xhtml 1.0 strict compliant) and they render just fine. I'm very relieved to see that. IE8 beta2 made a real mess of them - sometimes rendering the banner, sometimes not (alternate refreshes could pretty much toggle between the two states), and altering the banner's position seemingly randomly - although it was perhaps linked to whether or not the cursor passed over a link. So I was fearing the worst.

    As for the astroturfing ... Pathetic!



  6. Bill Gould

    IE8? YIE?

    When IE supports add-ons to the same extent that Fox does I may very well switch to it. For now I'm happy with my 'alternative'.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "You know I work at Microsoft, and that I love technology,

    Sometimes I love Microsoft technology so much that I can't wait to tell people about it, and this is one of those times. Microsoft has just released the Release Candidate 1 for Internet Explorer 8, and I think you should install it and use it today."

    Presumably followed by a download link?

    Can you hear that? Malware writers the world over just let out a massive cheer.


  8. Don Mitchell


    Wow, that was an unbiased take on IE 8...not. How about some real information about it. How fast are various browsers? How do they look. How about the fact that a lot of people like IE's antialiasing, and a lot of other browsers look stone-age because they don't do AA fonts.

    As for standards, what exactly does it mean when a browser has overwhelming market share, and then a European committee proclaims it has to work another way? Some of the decisions of W3C are cool, some (like the behavior of old tags like <font> with tables is just wrong, and many browsers ignore their rulings).

  9. Jamie

    Actual Standards

    I would be more willing to use MS products if they actually used and adhered to international standards rahter than trying to reinvent the wheel everytime they do something.

  10. Rob

    is that allowed?

    i feel a bit taken aback that microsoft is asking it's own employees to spam their friends. surely they pay people for advertising normally..

    it's a new twist on those crappy chain letters i suppose: "if you don't send this mail to 10 friends by the end of today, a fairy will die and your loyalty & usefullness to the company will be questioned"

    is there no rule to stop companies meddling in their employees private lives?

  11. Anonymous Coward


    I'm all for it, it may make MS and their employs look like spamming morons, but if it gets just a few people off IE6, I'll be happy.

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Released Candidate #XXXX 42Love Her Irresistible Offers

    ..... Pandoras' Wishes Fulfilled and XXXXPlAIned in Binary Details.

    What happens if you send them AIMacrosoft UniverseCity Satellite email address

    What will IT Generate? Spam or the Real McCoys?

    Feel Free to BetaTest ITs Powers of QControl with NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT....... For Holywood Future Productions Hollywood Style.

    Which I would like you to consider is a Civilian Expeditionary Force Engaged to Military Resources and Sources for Crown Protection and Royal Warrant/Public Purse Provision/Provisional Support/Maundy Source Wealth.

    Although what is the Bank of England for ...... if not to Source Wealth with Paper?

    And please, let's MoveON and forget the medication nurse jokes. Everything is as should and could but maybe definitely can't now be. However ..... Thinking of what can and could and should and therefore must always have been what is to be ..... a Beautiful AInitiating Confusion every Time Love just Happens and Appears on a Wwwhim .... Llan Twittering Circuits.

  13. Hugo

    Real believable!

    "Sometimes I love Microsoft technology so much that I can't wait to tell people about it, and this is one of those times"

    That's just brilliant! To think these marketing people probably actually think we talk like that.....

  14. Martin Lyne


    How to tell when a brand/product is dead: Telling your employees to tell/beg their friends to use their half-baked, legacy-canoodling, standards-defying, user-infuriating, developer-destroying, virus-enabling, shit-bag output.

    They're just mad at Goodle and becuase Google fund Moz/Chrome, we MUST COMPETE!

    Roll over and die. Good dog.

  15. Robert Moore

    That was painfull to read.

    Anyone sending me an email with "You know I work at Microsoft, and that I love technology," in it will be put on on permanent ignore list.

  16. James O'Brien
    Thumb Down

    You know

    I know Im going to never hear the end of this but for some reason I doubt this was intended at the author says. Two ideas come to mind. Either its an over-zealous wonk sending this out to the mailing list or a PR/Marketing drone thought this was a good idea. I really doubt its intended to be "malicious" but thats neither here nor there. Personally Im using IE8 Beta2 (thanks for heads up so I can update) at work along side the latest FF3 and its more stable in every way. FF crashes about every other time I have to fire off something in the browser so yeah, rather not use it for that when I woul dhave expected behavior like that out of a beta product not a released product.

    Yes yes call me what you will dont really care. TTFN

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    Since I have two machines I can keep IE6 and IE7 on them and use each for testing. How am I supposed to test IE8? Microsoft could at least acknowledge this problem by allowing parallel installs of their browser instead of forcing an upgrade.

    I know there's some software out there that allows IE3-6 to be installed on one machine but it doesn't work with IE7 (and presumably 8).

  18. Les

    OK, I'll bite...

    Astroturfing? Is this some well-known idiom I was previously unaware of, or just random word selection?

    Maybe a "Huh? What?" icon would be useful

  19. Brian Dines

    Not entirely accurate

    If you read some of the interviews from MS staff, what they said was that they hope some users who use other browsers will start ising Internet Explorer but don't expect that to happen.

    Anwyay, if you look at the browser statistics you'll probably find that of the '32%' of users not using IE, a large portion, maybe say 1/2 of that, are non-windows users too.

  20. George Shaw


    ....has it really come to this.....

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmmm Spammmmm

    I wonder how long it will be before all those identical messages start being identified by spam by some of the anti-spam engines?

    And of course there will be the malware people who will now start sending out Fakes with links to malware downloads.

    Oh fun and games.

    Luckily I dont know anyone who works at MS, well not anyone who will admit to it

  22. Mark
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft Astroturfing? Never...

    They managed to brainwash half the Internet into believing the dirtbox360 was actually good....

  23. Doug Glass

    Desperation ...

    ... is the mother of Spam.

    Frakk 'em.

  24. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Ever heard of the synthetic gtass Astroturf(tm)?

    Well, there's your "astroturf" reference explained.




    Shit, what are they teaching kids these days...

  25. BlueGreen

    @Les: Astrotrufing

    Corporate attempts to fake grassroots (see? there's the pun) support for X.

    Or just <> and follow the first non-ad link.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm sure Wikipedia does it better but astroturfing = a false grass roots campaign

    It's been around a while and, IMHO, along with sockpuppeting is a great contribution to the language from the US

  27. C. Nelson


    "Astroturfing" is accepted usage you weren't aware of. It means counterfeiting a "grassroots" campaign, or at least trying to. Usually in the sense of being deceitful, as in trying to make marketing messages look like they originated with enthusiastic employees/users.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Les: yes, it's perfectly well-known

    the derivation running something along the lines of it being an artificial form of generating grass-roots support.

    I have to laugh at the disingenuous suggestion that Microsoft finally getting round to supporting (however badly) well-established standards is indicative of a love of technology...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @James O'Brian, Don Mitchell

    Firefox - crashing? This comment's posted using a nightly build* - these are not even /alpha/ quality, and I don't remember the last time it crashed. (Admittedly, Thunderbird wedged today & needed "Terminate" click, probably something to do with susdid pending my laptop and bringing it back up on alternately my work and home networks for a few days without logging out, or possibly because my Exchange password was changed.)

    @Don Mitchell - I don't know where you get that idea about AA fonts in non-Microsoft browsers. Apart from the fact that I've got nice AA'd fonts pretty much throughout KDE (this is on Mandriva 2009 GNU/Linux), every time I'm forced to rdesktop onto a terminal server at work I find myself marvelling at the primitive, blocky and certainly not anti-aliased fonts in MSIE . And it's been that way since, oh, 2003 at the latest.

    (* Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.2a1pre) Gecko/20090127 Minefield/3.2a1pre , actually, fact fans. Notice that "20090127"? That's the build date)

  30. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Black Helicopters

    @Les - astroturfing


    A fake "grassroots" campaign, fake grass, hence astroturf

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    If you want NPOV, go away. This ain't Wikipedia.

  32. Tom Maddox Silver badge


    I know, it 's hard to understand. If only there were some way of finding information on the Internet, some kind of "search engine," into which you could put words and find out what they mean. Here, maybe this will help:

  33. Dave

    My Response...

    Oh? There's a version for Linux then?

    I know someone who used to work for Microsoft, but I somehow don't think I'm counted among his friends. The Borg got to him first.

  34. Adam Williamson


    'Astroturfing' refers to trying to fake the appearance of 'grass roots' support (it's quite a clever coining, really). So actions like paying off PR people to post in forums and discussion threads about how awesome your product is - without disclosing their status - come under the heading of 'astroturfing'.

    I wouldn't say this is actually a case of astroturfing, because there's no fakery going on. The email states clearly that the sender works for Microsoft. So there's no misrepresentation going on here - just a really bad marketing idea.

  35. Peter Bradley


    There. That wasn't too hard, was it?


  36. J
    Paris Hilton


    Pay attention. The article is not about IE8. It is about the astroturfing. Therefore all you say is irrelevant. Were I in a less charitable mood today, I would seriously question your intelligence, or at least reading skills.

    Oh, have you sent the message to your ten friends yet?

    By the way, were I a Microsoft employee, I would create myself 10 Hotmail accounts and then send the pathetic spam to them. Then forget about the accounts forever -- or until next time MS wants me to send ridiculous messages that sound like a bad advertising campaign.

    If this whole story is true, of course.

  37. Chris C

    Support for standard cookies?

    Does IE8 have support for standardized cookies? Standardized as in RFC2109 (Feb 1997) and/or RFC2965 (Oct 2000)? IE6, FF2, and PHP5 only support the Netscape proposal. They don't support the standards. I don't have IE7 or FF3, so can't test those. I guess 12 years isn't enough time to implement a standard.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You've probably never heard of LMGTFY either.

  39. Danyer

    But... does it work on Linux?

    "You know I work at Microsoft, and that I love technology," it reads. "Sometimes I love Microsoft technology so much that I can't wait to tell people about it, and this is one of those times. Microsoft has just released the Release Candidate 1 for Internet Explorer 8, and I think you should install it and use it today."

    OK, what repository should I add?

    Until then, I'll be happy with Firefox on my Linux, Mac and Windows computers for a unified experience.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    IE8 highly suprisingly better than FF3

    I have long being a FF user, and before that the original Mozilla / Netscape browser.

    Hated IE6. Then IE7 caused no end of issues. But you know what, IE8 is bloody good and stable, and nbelievably another reader confers above better so than FF3.

    Whether it is as secure, well that's the ultimate question for me. So for now, I will gradually migrate to IE8 when its finalised, but also keep using Opera for all the financial and banking sites.

    Never trusted FF entirely for those secure sites - not because of FF itself but all those great add-ons / extensions which to be honest are written by anyone and no way can you monitor all those to ensure no backdoor / holes.

    Bloody hell, at this rate I'll be upgrading to Win 7 instead of wasting my spare time f'ing around with various flavours of linfux trying to get it to run my biz apps under wine, crossover of f'ing around with win4lin and other VMs that slow my system to crawl. It's great and stable and secure, but unfortunately MS still rules the real world of the business desktop, at least for the next upgrade cycle / 5 years.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Call yourselves professionals?

    Jeez, all you weeners complaining about needing another machine to test IE8, how about you catch up with the rest of us in the 21st Century and use Virtual Machines?

    Microsoft is even providing IE8 in a free XP Virtual PC:

    It's obvious that actually learning anything new might be asking a bit much for some of you, but at least the 20 minutes you spend figuring out how to install a VPC is 20 minutes that you won't spend pissing and moaning on ElReg.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Don Mitchell

    would you be the neutral ex MSFT guy here: ?

  43. James
    Gates Horns


    Wow, you know you've broken the internet when you get a list of websites that a new browser will work with.

    Hark MS, that's the sound of all your 'standards' chickens coming home to roost...

  44. Anonymous Coward

    How about they pulled the damned thing out of the OS

    I am tired of my "multitasking" operating system breaking because one instance of IE hangs. Fuck MS.

  45. Argus Tuft
    Paris Hilton

    what about the wimmen?

    given that the average microsoft programmer would be a pimply 30yo virgin?

    i suppose the local pizza shop would get a lot of spam though

  46. Toastan Buttar

    D/L'ed it last night

    I must admit that IE7 has been my favourite browser. Nice and clean interface. For the past few months however, I've been having real trouble with Flash under Limited User Accounts (which I outright refuse to change to admin accounts). The same thing happens with FF. The only browser I've been able to get to work with LUA's is Chrome. I hoped that the issue would have been sorted out with IE8 but it behaves exactly the same way as IE7/FF. It's a pity, as I'm not too fond of the Chrome UI, but the kids and I just can't live without Flash, so we put up with it.

    Using FF on my Ubuntu partition, Opera on the Wii and Bon Echo (a lightweight FF variant) on my Elonex OneT. We're OS and browser agnostic in our house !

  47. Geoff Mackenzie

    Friends don't let friends

    run MSIE.

  48. OFI


    "Can you hear that? Malware writers the world over just let out a massive cheer."

    LOL good point.

    Personally i'm all for this as there are rumours we may move to IE8 at work once the final release is out (up from IE6..)

    Just thinking to myself a minute ago.. what is in this for MS? The browser has always been free, surely it doesn't sell OSs. Where is the profit in developing the IE product?

    Firefox works well for me anyway :-)

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Don Mitchell and James O'Brien

    WOW, who's paying you two?

  50. Mark

    re:Call yourselves professionals?

    How about IE6? 7?

    Do you need another license? Does IE change when you have Vista Ultimate rather than Vista Basic? etc.

    How about not making IE the core functionality so you can change the browser maybe per account to be whatever you need to frigging test against.

    You don't need a VM to test FF2 and FF3 on windows, do you. So it's hardly necessary.

  51. Anthony Garrett

    @Peter Bradley

    I'll happily give you details of my site which is XHTML 1.0 Strict compliant, renders perfectly in IE7 and fails in the IE8 release candidate. I'm glad it has improved... but it isn't good enough yet.

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