Microsoft Invents a Fictional Consumer

On October 9, Microsoft posted a testimonial on its Web site called "Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert." It was a first-person account by a "freelance writer" about how she had fallen in love with Windows XP. "I was up and running in less than one day, Girl Scout's honor," said the attractive, woman in the photo. "There was only one problem: She doesn't exist," writes David Pogue. "A with-it member of, the popular hangout for articulate nerds, happened to notice that the woman's picture actually came from, a stock-photo agency. Ted Bridis, an Associated Press reporter, took it from there. Amazingly, he tracked authorship of the article to Valerie Mallinson, a public-relations woman hired by Microsoft to write the story." Microsoft reacted to the revelations by hinting it might punish Mallinson, and her PR firm tried to pretend she didn't work there. Microsoft also deleted the fake testimonial from its web site, but you can find a mirror of it at