Think about this: Microsoft dropped about $1500/laptop * 90 laptops + shipping (my rough estimate puts that at a little less than $150,000) to get some positive digital ink. That's a fairly expensive campaign for the blogosphere, and by comparison if we assume that their boxed Vista product costs them about $20/unit, that same $150,000 could have been spent on seeding Vista to about 7500 bloggers.
Microsoft and Edelman didn't send out boxes with the OS DVD, though, did they?
And so, the question that I'm amazed that no blogger seems to have asked is why didn't they send out the OS and let us install it on our own computers?
The answer, once you think about things this way, is obvious, and that's the real story here:
Microsoft Vista is in fact a bear to install and has prohibitive hardware requirements.
Before the fanboys that seem to be attracted to MS criticism show up, think about that - the people who got the notebooks (and could have gotten DVDs) are all pretty tech savvy. Presumably, they would be capable of getting Vista installed and taking a look at it.
Now sure, sending Vista out that way would presume that each of the bloggers had a spare machine on which to install Vista (say I had gotten such a DVD - I don't have a spare machine like that lying around, other than an aging PIII laptop). So I don't think this argument should get as much weight as Taylor wants to give it. I haven't been paying tons of attention to magazines like PC World and PC Magazine - have they done base installs? Typically, that kind of evaluation is done by the trade press.