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Computerworld's Win 7 RAM Source Was a Sham

Last week we relayed a story from Computerworld that cited its Devil Mountain Software source as finding that 86 percent of Windows 7 PCs in the over 20,000 machines it monitors would frequently encounter low memory situations.

Despite the entire Internet community jumping on Devil Mountain Software, the company's blog stood by its claims. But things started to fall apart for DMS's exo.performance.network (XPnet) when ZDNet suspected that Craig Barth was actually an InfoWorld/IDG Network columnist (Computerworld is also a part of IDG). Before ZDNet published its suspicions, InfoWorld's Eric Knorr announced that IDG had severed ties with its contributor Randall C. Kennedy, who "had been misrepresenting himself to other media organizations as Craig Barth, CTO of Devil Mountain Software…"

"DevilMountain Software is a business Kennedy established that specializes in the analysis of Windows performance data," Knorr explained. "There is no Craig Barth, and Kennedy has stated that this fabrication was a misguided effort to separate himself (or more accurately, his InfoWorld blogger persona) from his Devil Mountain Software business."

Following the reveal, ZDNet went ahead and published its story detailing the connections found between Barth and Kennedy, making them the same person. Gregg Keizer, who wrote many of the stories for Computerworld that cited Barth, explained his position in a new article.

"The two, Barth and Kennedy, are one and the same. The problem was that I didn't know that. The problem was that Kennedy didn't tell me he was Barth, that I didn't figure out Barth was he, and that together, they were DevilMountain," Keizer wrote. "I have spoken with the man I knew as Barth between 15 and 20 times since December 2007. There was a phone number and a man behind the phone number. The guy seemed to know his technical stuff."

"But on Friday, after I confronted Barth with evidence that linked him to Kennedy -- I didn't yet know they were one and the same -- he assured me that although the two had worked together in the past, and in fact, now worked together at Devil Mountain, any allegations that he and Kennedy were the same person were ridiculous," Keizer continued. "Two hours later, I received an e-mail from Kennedy, who I'd e-mailed separately."

"Time to level with you," Kennedy wrote. "The individual Craig Barth doesn't exist. It's a pseudonym I created a decade ago while writing news copy for Windows NT Magazine. I resurrected it a few years back in an effort to separate my sometimes controversial editorial contributions to InfoWorld from the hard research content I was developing as part of Devil Mountain Software. "What began as a simple e-mail exchange of benchmark data two years ago snowballed, as all such white lies tend to do, into the mess we have today," he added.

Kennedy and XPnet appears to still stand behind its Windows 7 RAM data, a more pressing real-world implication of Devil Mountain Software's activity deals with the privacy of its clients that use the firm's performance benchmarking software.

In a follow up article, "Barth" revealed that Devil Mountain Software's Clarity Suite was being used at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston, as well as on Wall Street trading floors. The financial firms wouldn't confirm whether or not it used DMS's products, but regardless, it's either a violation of client privacy (perhaps with unauthorized use) or a complete fabrication.

Read ZDNet's expose here and Computerworld's story here.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • theuerkorn
    Yeah but, it's in the Internet ... so it's true. ;-)
    Reply
  • Pei-chen
    Rule 34 followed by 42.
    Reply
  • Shez
    Bets on if M$ goes after this guy for damages?
    Reply
  • redplanet_returns
    the original article's testing methodology was too vague and make way too many assumptions to be taken seriously anyways.

    i'm sure most of tom's hardware readers already found a lot of problems and faults with the article to begin with.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    "Despite the entire Internet community jumping on Devil Mountain Software, the company's blog stood by its claims."

    You mean, despite the entire internet community jumping on you, because it's simply astounding how such ignorant information could be passed on by a 'professional' columnist working for an IT enthusiast site.
    Reply
  • ominous prime
    Curnel_D"Despite the entire Internet community jumping on Devil Mountain Software, the company's blog stood by its claims."You mean, despite the entire internet community jumping on you, because it's simply astounding how such ignorant information could be passed on by a 'professional' columnist working for an IT enthusiast site.
    You sir, hit the nail on the head.
    Reply
  • ordcestus
    I knew it wasn't true. I've worked on and examined a hundred windows 7 machines and even the 1 gb netbooks aren't overly starved for ram
    Reply
  • Honis
    Don't forget to update the article from last week.
    Reply
  • rhino13
    What does this guy stand to gain by discrediting a great OS like Windows 7?
    Reply
  • micr0be
    its all about the he said she said bullshit .....
    Reply