Microsoft has supposedly offered laptops loaded with Vista Ultimate to influential bloggers ! Read the story here. Well you can imagine why a firm would want to do that :) Bribery, of course, for not writing bad reviews on Vista and maybe even for writing good stuff.
Blogging has created a whole generation of citizen reporters and independent reviewers and no force on earth (MS included) can alter the course of media history. Identifying influential bloggers and using them as opinion leaders for marketing propaganda seems to be the holy grail for marketers. However, millions of roving reviewing eyes are sure to see through this guile, even if the influential ones are ready to be bribed. The very notion of influence in the blogging world relies on credibility and when there is a conflicting signal from a credible source, I believe that the system is mature enough to discredit the source than to buy into the signal.