NYT: Microsoft is the Messiah

FOLLOWERS: Hail Messiah!
BRIAN: I’m not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand?! Honestly!
GIRL: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.
BRIAN: What?! Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!
FOLLOWERS: He is! He is the Messiah!
BRIAN: Now, fuck off!
      — from Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Last night on Microsoft’s conference call the company that Bill built went out of its way to blame Windows Vista sales weakness on piracy troubles in some of Microsoft’s fastest growing markets. You know, the "those damn foreigners" excuse.

And the NY Times isn’t buying it. The paper’s Bits blogger Bob (okay, Steve Lohr — I made up the Bob part for alliterative power) thinks MSFT is actually seeing weak Vista sales, full stop. No foreigners required. His evidence? One, because people buy less stuff during recessions; and two, because Microsoft would deny it if it were true. Shades of Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

You know, I’m as much of a Vista hater as the next Microsoft basher, and Lohr may be right, but even I’ll concede this is a fairly thin reed on which to hang an anti-MSFT case. While there is no doubt Vista isn’t doing as well as anyone expected, it is tricky stuff indeed to argue the case from the fact that Microsoft is denying there is more Vista weakness than investors already know about.