Microsoft smoked in Microsoft 'Smoked by Windows Phone' contest

Up against a tech blogger and his Android smartphone, Microsoft's latest marketing gimmick blew up in its face

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Unbeknownst to the poor Microsoft Store employee, Katta already had two weather widgets on his home screen, and he had disabled the Galaxy Nexus lock screen. He writes:

After a three-second count down, I hit the power button on my phone and said, "DONE!" out loud. ... I didn't even need to touch the screen, since the two weather widgets were already there.

My opponent finished a split-second later. She had two live tiles on her home screen displaying the weather of two different cities as well. Why does it take longer on Windows Phone? She had to perform two actions. First, she hit the power button to turn on the screen. Second, she had to swipe away the lock screen.

Katta snagged himself a brand-new HP laptop, right? Wrong. The Microsoft Store employees told him he hadn't won. Why?

... another Microsoft Store employee (possibly a manager) came by ... [and] quickly gave a ridiculous out-of-thin-air reason that I need to display the weather of different cities in different states and that "my phone could not do that."

To be fair, Katta gamed the rules a bit. But to be equally fair, Microsoft clearly didn't put a whole lot of thought into the rules of said contest and how one might easily skirt them.

Microsoft also saw how this result was playing out on the InterWebs and quickly resolved the issue by awarding Katta a new laptop and a new smartphone. That was a smart move. The whole "smoked" contest? Not so much.

Granted, I have had nothing but love notes and daffodils for Windows Phone 7 since I started using one -- so much so that even I am starting to worry about my own mental state. It really is fast; I can get a weather report on my phone in about 1.5 seconds, if I want one.

But most people don't stand there holding stopwatches next to their smartphones. They aren't carrying around an iPhone or a Nexus because they're 22 percent faster at posting social media status updates or finding the nearest churros stand. They're not plugging test results into spreadsheets and making some kind of analytically driven decision about what to carry in their pockets. They're carrying around an iPhone or a Nexus because those things are cool and Windows Phones aren't.

Windows Phones aren't cool because they're designed by Microsoft: the company that brought you 347 failed marketing campaigns before this one, the company that thought it could make Bill Gates seem hip by pairing him with Jerry Seinfeld. Microsoft's problem isn't WinPho or the iPhone's iOS or Android. Microsoft's problem is Microsoft. And no multi-million-dollar marketing campaign or silly in-store promotion can change that.

Are you planning to take the WinPho challenge? Post the results below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Microsoft smoked in Microsoft 'Smoked by Windows Phone' contest," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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