Free Windows Vista Laptop from Microsoft?

A minor uproar is going on, apparently some bloggers have received some free laptops with Windows Vista, the original post, for me at least, was on Laughing Squid, Microsoft Sent A Free Laptop With Windows Vista, he received an Acer Ferrari 1000 12.1? notebook, with an 1.80GHz AMD Turion 64?2 with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a SATA 160GB hard drive, loaded with Windows Vista Ultimate. As usual, some people think it’s payoffs for positive blogging, etc.

Ok, so yeah, I’ve been blogging about Microsoft quite a bit lately. I guess their marketing people are doing their job well, since the launch of Windows Vista is next month. Speaking of which, on December 20th I received an email from Edelman, the PR firm who is handling the launch of Windows Vista, letting me know that Microsoft is sending me a present in the form of a laptop with Windows Vista installed on it, no strings attached. Source: Laughing Squid

On Robert Scoble’s blog he calls it his idea of PayPerPost. In a comment, Robert McLaws of says,

AFAIK, AMD is the one that provided the laptops to websites that are members of the Windows Featured Communities program, as well as several other Microsoft influential’s. I think it was more of an AMD ploy to get dual core x64s into the hands of influential’s then it was trying to get people to buy into Vista. Most of these people were relatively Microsoft-friendly to begin with.

BTW, AMD said that the computers could be kept or given away. Most were kept. Source: Robert Scoble

Mitch Denny has posted on the subject, apparently it is part of a viral marketing campaign called the Vanishing Point, and along with he laptop, he received a puzzle piece containing a USB drive with three files on it, Cipher Key 4.jpg, from_Loki.txt, and Loki.wmv.

Back story: About mid-December I was contacted by Aaron Coldiron from the Windows Product Management Group and asked if I would like to try out an Acer Ferrari 1000 courtesy of the Windows Vista team and AMD (the Acer Ferrari has a Turion64 dual core processor and ATI graphics). I was interested in trying out the device mostly because I hadn?t used Vista on a 64-bit machine before and I hadn?t used an AMD processor in I don?t know how many years.

After reading the letter there was a knock at the door (spooky) and our neighbor delivered a box, presumably the courier must have thought it was for them (we live on a split block). Inside the cardboard box was a wooden trick box which took me a few moments to open up. Inside was another copy of the letter and a USB memory stick and on the stick were three files:

Cipher Key 4.jpg
I have uploaded the video to Soapbox on MSN Video under the tag of “vanishing point”. I am uploading from an ISDN connection so progress is slow. Anyway – I am off to find fellow decoders and crack some of the puzzles!

Update: Folks have requested that I post up the cipher key image. As you can see the key is not a new one as I?ve seen it posted on the Internet is a few other locations – thanks to those who referred me to Source: notgartner

The wiki has many links to keys that have been uploaded, sites that are working on the game and more. A couple forums that are actively working on it are Neowin and unfiction. Mitch Denny was contacted by the Windows Vista team, Scott Beale was contacted by the Edelman PR firm and Robert Mclaws says it’s AMD. My question is, why didn’t I get one, this looks like fun. Oh, and to all of those people complaining about the “gifts” saying they will never come back to this blog if they don’t return it, etc., come on, get over it. Most of the posts that I saw don’t appear to be swayed by it, I know I wouldn’t be, it’s just a perk of putting your stuff out there, nothing more, keep it or don’t, I don’t care. Just Send me one! hehe.

Added: Marshall Kirkpatrick writes that Microsoft has informed them they need to give it away or send it back when they are down with the reviews. Indian givers.


No good deed goes unpunished, right? You may have seen that other bloggers got review machines as well. Some of that coverage was not factual. As you write your review I just wanted to emphasize that this is a review pc. I strongly recommend you disclose that we sent you this machine for review, and I hope you give your honest opinions. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding of our intentions I’m going to ask that you either give the pc away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews.

Thanks for your understanding, and happy reviewing,

Aaron *** Source: Marshall Kirkpatrick

Load of crap if you ask me, there will always be someone unhappy with something no matter what it is, so why let a small minority make you back pedal and do something other than originally planned?