Microsoft apologises after Windows Phone speed challenge backfires


Microsoft has apologised after initially refusing to reward a tech writer who "smoked" a Windows Phone using an Android handset, as part of a new in-store competition to promote its new smartphone range. Microsoft has now rewarded a new laptop and Windows Phone to Sahas Katta, the CEO of Skatter Tech CEO, who used an Android phone to beat a Nokia Lumia during a "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenge.

Watch a video from this year’s CES showing how the campaign should work:

In its retail stores, Microsoft has been running a "Smoked by Windows Phone" campaign, in which participants are challenged to use their existing smartphones to try to beat Windows Phone in basic tasks. For example, users are asked to send text messages to their spouses, look up the weather, or find highly-rated local restaurants.

If he or she can do it faster than the Microsoft employee, a HP laptop is awarded.

If Microsoft wins, the competitor still wins a prize - a Windows Phone, if they are willing to give up their existing phone.

During Sunday's competition, though, one of the competitors was Sahas Katta, who was met with this challenge - display the current weather in two difference cities.

The Microsoft employee of course already had two live tiles displaying the weather in two cities, but little did she know, so did Katta.

So when Katta unlocked his phone and shouted "Done!" he thought he had just won a new laptop. Instead, the Microsoft employee said no, that she won, and would not be awarding the prize.

After several employees failed to explain why, another employee stepped in and claimed that Katta's phone didn't win because its two weather locations were in the same state.

"I calmly and politely tried pointing out that I was absolutely never told about having to show off two different states, but at this point I realized there was no point in even attempting to argue since the Microsoft Store employees clearly had no intention of even potentially discussing the possibility of considering me the winner," Katta wrote.

The story attracted lots of attention in the tech world, getting picked up on the news aggregation site Techmeme. On Monday, Microsoft's Senior Manager (and self-proclaimed Microsoft Evangelist) Ben Rudolph wrote on Twitter that he wanted to make things right, and promised Katta a laptop, a phone, and an apology.

Microsoft smoked apology tweet

Rudolph tweeted the comment:

"@BenThePCGuy 26 Mar 12 Hey @sahaskatta , @MicrosoftStore & I want to make things right. So I've got a laptop & phone (& apology) for you. Email me!"

Katta went on to explain that, after exchanging emails with Rudolph - who instigated the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge earlier this year - he was told that a laptop and phone had been set aside for him at the Santa Clara Microsoft Store.
"I dropped by this evening and after spending a few minutes chatting with two rather extremely friendly store managers, I walked out with a $1,049 Hunger Games Special Edition HP Folio 13 and a $899 Nokia Lumia 800 Bundle," Katta said.

"I recently just purchased a new HP Envy 15 and I am rather happy with my smart phone, so I decided to put both of these up for auction on Ebay. I will ship the highest bidder of each listing the respective device and donate 100 [per cent] of the proceeds to a charity."

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