Oh it really is truly pathetic. Microsoft - renowned worldwide for embracing and extending the notion of good business practice - has retreated to schoolyard ethics as its empire collapses in the face of Apple's iPod.

The company has launched a brand-new anti-marketing scheme across its Zune group headquarters - an iPod Amnesty Bin. Employees are meant to dutifully drop their music players into the bin, and run hot-foot to the company store to buy themselves a Zune (also available in, erm, brown).

And they aren't doing it.

Well - sure, there's a few iPods in the bin, but there's no saying who put them in there. Those few binned iPods depicted in this Flickr-found image seem to be recent models.

(Congratulations, by the way, to intrepid photographer "fjmoculous" for capturing this image. He wrote: "We visited the Zune headquarters today. In the entryway was an iPod recycling bin.")

The fact of the matter here is that by attempting to coerce employees into abandoning the world's favourite music player, Microsoft is actually showing how very popular the iPod has become - and the fact employees aren't playing ball reinforces the notion that Microsoft has lost this battle for good.

No one wants a Zune. Not really.

If Apple were to place a Zune Amnesty Bin in its Cupertino campus there would be no Zunes in that bin. Why? Not because the Zune is popular, but because no one in Cupertino owns one (except possibly for testing - there must be a way to make song streaming work surely? Though presumably the Zune software needs to be succesfully installed first).

If you want my opinion, and it's my blog so you can't avoid it - I get to have an opinion here - the iPod Amnesty Bin move (if true) is a sign of Microsoft's corporate decadence. Child-like and unrealistic behaviour, the equivalent of King Canute's ill-fated attempt to turn back the waves.

Will Apple respond in kind by putting Windows Amnesty Bins across its chain of retail stores, so Mac switchers can dump their old PCs in there? They could call it a 'recycling scheme'.

And which of those two images would inspire better investor confidence?

(Of course, the drawback to this discourse could be that the Flickr image could be faked - but does that really change the fate of the Zune, the dominance of the iPod, and the steady erosion of the Microsoft empire?)