When I ran a direct mail operation at a newspaper, our strategy was quite simple and very effective. We could strong-arm our advertisers into using our direct mail program by providing discounts to their overall advertising rates. We had a quality direct mail program, but our pricing was extremely high compared to any competition. The strategy was very successful and we consistently took business away from our competition… even though advertisers paid more.
Internally, this was simply a strategy of reviewing what differentiated us from our competition. What differentiated us was that we already had relationships with these advertisers, we simply needed to leverage it. I'm sure from the outside looking in, folks thought we were evil. But it was business. I did not feel bad about it because I think the benefits of our program far outweighed any of our competitors' programs. We did free analysis, maintained fantastic databases, managed their Do Not Mail lists, etc. It was a win-win.
The Reaction beta blog has some information regarding Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and its compliance testing results with CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) standards. The results are terrible. Microsoft may actually be going in reverse with respect to internet standards, not forward. This may not be a big deal for users, but it's a terrible situation for development companies. If the gap widens in how browsers treat standards, the cost of that is pushed to the companies distributing web applications. They must support independent platforms with more complex code, and possibly an array of features based on each system. Ugh. Longer development cycles, more bugs, more complaints, etc., etc.
So… if you were Microsoft and you happened to be evil, what would your strategy be if you wanted to put out a sub-standard product? Perhaps you would distribute it anyways. What if people did not want it? Well… now that you have everyone utilizing Automatic Updates, simply designate the upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 as a critical update. Problem solved… the mass involuntary adoption of a sub-standard product through brute force.
The bad thing is that I'm a fan of Microsoft, I'm not a Microsoft is Evil guy. But I think I smell a rat. My impression of Microsoft may be changing very soon.
Download Firefox, folks. This is going to be a battle.