Microsoft is taking an innovative, if somewhat underhanded, approach to promoting its Windows Phone: It's offering a free device to Android customers who've been victims of malware and want an escape.
In a new social media campaign spreading on Twitter with the hashtag "Droidrage," Microsoft is offering a Windows Phone to the "5 best (worst?)" stories of suffering through Android malware. Microsoft's Ben Rudolph (BenThePCGuy on Twitter) spearheaded the contest.
(Msnbc.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)
Messages to Rudolph on the highly active Twitter feed include: "When you get key-logged on Android and they steal both of your email accounts"; "My whole Samsung phone is malware" and "D'loaded an 'Angry Birds' app from Android Market. Launched it …BOOM! Phone is bricked. Found out it's a fake app."
This last Tweet comes just a day after a crop of fake Android apps was removed from the official Android App Market; the cloned apps were found to be harboring malware that rung up victims' monthly bills by sending premium-rate text messages from their infected phones.
It's a clever marketing ploy, but given Microsoft's less-than-stellar record in keeping its own software free from bugs, it's one that has the possibility of backfiring. As Graham Cluley from the security firm Sophos wrote in a blog post, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
From the Twitter feed, it appears those stones are already being tossed back at Microsoft.
"I really hate the freedom and flexibility my Android phone gives me," one message reads. "I prefer my style/preferences thrust upon me."
Another reads: "Why would anyone want a BSOD [Blue Screen of Death] on a $$ phone? No Microsoft phone for me, I love Android."
And, of course, there's the obligatory Star Wars joke, made by one respondent: "One time I was waking through the desert on Tatooine, talking on my mobile when R2D2 mugged me. #DroidRage Do I get my free phone now?"
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