Microsoft's handling of the Windows Update controversy is a good case study for how the company's public relations efforts work. The lessons are important for Microsoft customers and partners.
I had my first dealings with Microsoft PR in 1994, when I worked as technology editor for a life insurance trade magazine. In those days, Microsoft PR aggressively courted eWEEK (which had a different name then) and other high-tech "trade" news organizations. The trades' influence meant much to Microsoft. Most of the communication came from PR agency Waggener Edstrom, for which shorthand is Wagged.
The PR mechanisms would remain pretty much the same through the early part of the 21st century. However, Microsoft would spread its accounts among other PR agencies, primarily Edelman and Webber Shandwick. While Wagged would remain the main PR agency, the additional agencies created competition for account business—and not always in Microsoft's best interests. For example, Edelman scored a big coup in the early 2000s by wooing MacBU (Macintosh Business Unit) PR from Wagged. Edelman also handled PR for Windows Vista's launch, rather than Wagged, which is the main account holder for the Windows client business.