Update: Microsoft decides to make good after getting smoked in its own game

Update: And just as we suspected, Microsoft's decided to do the right thing. Ben Rudolph (aka @BenThePCGuy) just tweeted the following:

Hey @sahaskatta , @Microsoftstore & I want to make things right. So I've got a laptop & phone (& apology) for you. Email me!

Wish it hadn't taken a public shaming, though.

Original: We've always watched Microsoft's "Smoked by Windows Phone" competition with a bit of amusement. On one hand, Microsoft hit a stroke of marketing genius here. (And lord knows it's had enough experiences in the opposite direction.) Put a Windows Phone up against anything else to see which can perform a specific task more quickly, and film it for posterity.

We've used Windows Phone. It absolutely can do some specific tasks pretty darn quickly -- often enough more quickly than other phones, and catching folks getting "Smoked" is YouTube gold. But it's also always been a bit of a techie carnival sideshow, albeit a popular one, as we saw for ourselves at Mobile World Congress. (No, I didn't actually get smoked, because I didn't belly up to that midway game.)

That brings us to today's tale. Skatter Tech's Sahas Katta writes that his Galaxy Nexus, armed with a couple weather widgets on the home screen, indeed was able to beat Windows Phone at its own game -- "bring up the weather of two different cities," Katta says. He had an ace in the hole: An option mod that bypasses the Ice Cream Sandwich lock screen and goes straight to the home screen when he presses the power button. The Windows Phone competition didn't have that, and finished "a split second later."

So Katta and his Galaxy Nexus won, right? Nope. the Santa Clara (Calif.) Microsoft store decided, after some gnashing of teeth, followed by some quick thinking, that it had to be to cities in different states. Oh. Good bye $1,000 custom laptop, hello "Smoked" pic of shame.

We're willing to bet Microsoft makes good here after this PR gaffe, and that some store employees might have seen better days. And let's hope Microsoft does it on camera, and posts it alongside its other "Smoked" videos.

Source: Skatter Tech, via WPCentral; more: Smoked by Windows Phone (opens in new tab)

Phil Nickinson
  • Never heard of this but hillarity. As for windows pc dominance? Its smoked
  • What he had was not a "mod" as I understand it. In my unrooted GNex I can do the same, under settings, security, screen lock: None. Pretty standard ICS.
  • True. Tweaked that sentence.
  • Standard Android. I believe that's been a lock screen option since inauguration.
  • Play Angry Birds Space. O wait nm =op
  • Make your face the background for the home screen... :D
  • Change your custom ringtone without having to go through the following: http://blogs.technet.com/b/keithcombs/archive/2011/10/14/windows-phone-7...
  • What a coincidence I went into the windows store at my local mall the other day and I was asked to do this competition. At first they told me it was to post to facebook and then they changed it to weather in 2 different states but they wouldn't show me the process they were using at first. They didn't allow me to use my rooted G-Nex so I used a Motorola Droid X and was beaten. I said let me setup some widgets and have a redo but they denied me.
  • Did they give you time to setup? Or was it just off the cuff?
  • They made you use a 19 month old device against their latest and greatest? What kind of bullcrap is that?
  • Huge reddit discussion on this
  • They did the same thing to me, I was able to post to facebook quicker but then changed it saying I needed to tag myself first. Extremely annoyed
  • I take it the challenge was to post a pic to Facebook? Just asking as WP phones can't tag people in status updates.
  • yup, ice cream sandwich was faster that time around and they changed the challenge on the spot after I said I was finished.
  • I wonder who's gonna want to play now that we know about MS's shenanigans. WP has "lame" written all over it.
  • thats your opinion and i strongly disagree. wp isnt lame at all. ive owned one. however i feel that right now , it still needs some tweaks, so i am happy with my bionic. have you owned one? if not what are you basing your opinion off of?
  • This is stupidity
  • Microsoft can't win anything without rigging the contest. Kind of like how they 'optimized' IE9 to score better on javascript benchmarks.
  • So wait, they're holding this contest in their stores then changing the rules when they get beat? WTF is that about?
  • Can the Windows phone skip the lockscreen as well if they set it up that way or is it not even an option? That's pretty good if Windows phone can beat any Android phone every time when both are set up identically. It's probably not legal to change rules after the contest. I wonder if anyone will do anything about it.
  • I'll be impressed with the MS interface when I can walk into a challenge like this where *I* can set the rules for what the activity will be and MS can still beat me. Seriously, what is more important, being able to quickly do something arbitrary that someone else thinks is important? Or doing something you think is important and do every day? -Suntan
  • +100
  • I KNEW they would make WP win as long as they could. Perfectly logical. And biased, naturally.
    I've always thought I could win over them. ICS with custom ROM. Android FTW!
  • This reminds me of that other brilliant Microsoft campaign. They had tried to show potential customers how stupid they were for thinking Vista sucked by disguising it under a different name, putting it on amazing hardware, and getting people to agree it was fast and slick only to reveal that it had been Vista all the time, making participants look like fools. If I remember correctly, adoption of Windows Vista skyrocketed just afterwards.
  • windows phones are great phones, extremely smooth and integrated applications. bing music, bing scout, bing eye, zune marketplace... however its not for everyone. and of course MS has rigged this contest to win 99% of the time. why would they willingly give away free laptops and cell phones? that would make the whole idea a waste of money. its a marketing campaign and a damn good one. iphone, windows phone, and android all make good operating systems. depending on how you use your phone, would depend on which one would benefit you most. be proud that MS is finally marketing their products properly, give them some props. dont hate
  • WHAT! In your paragraph you say that Microsoft rigs their contest so they don't have to give things away for free so you can be tricked into coming over and listen to their marketing? THEN YOU ASK ME TO BE PROUD FOR THEM? NO! Other than that, I do agree with your other points.
  • You're asking me to give them props for rigging a contest. No thanks. This general tech industry, where a successful market campaign basically boils down to ridicule and pointing out how stupid are the people that use other products, is really tiring. Everyone does it, but that doesn’t make it right. -Suntan
  • Which makes it all the more enjoyable when their BS is exposed.
  • It may have been a good marketing campaign, but now it's shot. This will taint every WP7 win, and perhaps cause some to give thought about the overall relevance of each contest. For instance - The test in question and others which have been discussed depend on the phone being pre-configured to work the way the user needs it to. If one phone is pre-configured one isn't, of course the prepared phone will win. If both are configured, it's nothing more than a test of who can turn their phone on faster. Utterly pointless in establishing superiority, IMO.
  • I would have TONS of fun taking my shotgun to the free phone! The laptop I would use, IF I could get rid of the Hunger Games branding. (I read the book, its damn good, but I dont think I would show the thing in public if I could avoid it!) Back to the shotgun...I would love to video this and show the WP7 phone getting "smoked" :)
  • Ebay likes those things you know...
  • Bleh... double post... Shoot me now.
  • Their new motto should be: "Take Down by Andy!" or "Beaten at our own game..."
  • Ha Ha great post, it's not good to lose but it's even worse to not to honor your agreement.
  • Windows Phone 7 is not lame. At all. As someone who owns a Galaxy S2 and Titan, I can say that it does certain thigns a LOT better than Android can right now. Social networking? Better. GPS-related stuff? Way better. And yeah, nobody can deny that it's just perfectly smooth. The fact that my GS2 isn't as smooth as a single core Snapdragon (the weakest processor generally) shows that WP7 is really well-configured. I can understand hating hating on iOS because of all of it's half-assed crap, but I personally think WP7 is a terrific OS. It isn't perfect, but man, what it does do well, it does amazingly. Seriously, guys, knock it off on the WP7 hate.