‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ Contestant Plans To Take Legal Action Against Microsoft

Earlier this week, a huge fiasco unfolded surrounding Microsoft’s promotional ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ competition, in which tech blogger Sahas Katta participated in the contest, and was told that he lost even though according to his account, he beat the Windows Phone at the challenge.

Now, yet another participant who feels that he was unfairly declared the loser in the competition has taken a less passive approach. Instead of taking to the keyboard to deal with the situation as Katta did, Vivek Viswanathan took to a lawyer. Visiting his local store in Atlanta to participate in the challenge, Viswanathan claims to have beat the Windows Phone twice, while being denied the laptop.

Here’s what happened, according to his own account of the events that he provided to CNET: Viswanathan’s iPhone has an issue. All of the physical buttons apart from the home key did not work. So, he disclosed this information to the Microsoft employee, and he shut down all of the background apps. The challenge that he had to perform was to open up a Facebook page on the phone. “I unlocked the phone and pressed the Facebook icon I had on my screen, placed the phone back on the table and as soon as a page loaded I said done, moments before the associate.” However, despite this, the associate claimed that he had won.

There was a crowd, and, when offered to perform a second challenge, Viswathan begrudgingly agreed.

With all the due diligence completed, the associate challenged me to find a restaurant near the store. Again, I unlocked the phone opened Maps and pressed R and restaurants showed up as a suggestion (I may have added that to auto correct in the dictionary a while ago) and then hit search. I place the phone on the table and as soon as I got a hit, I screamed done well ahead of the associate.

The asociate, Lee Johnson, then admitted defeat. He did, however, state that Viswathan did not qualify to win the prize due to the defective iPhone bower button. A manager showed up, wanting to see a third challenge. Viswanthan did not go ahead with it, and the manager backed his associate in saying that Viswathan is ineligible.

Interesting. Viswathan has now hired a lawyer, who has contacted Microsoft to attempt restitution. So, is this yet another legitimate complaint from a participant unhappy with Microsoft’s handling of the matter, or is this someone else trying to take advantage of the immense (negative) media coverage that Katta brought to the competition only days ago? On an unrelated note, the egg display picture on Vivek’s recently registered Twitter account is quite bothersome.

Microsoft Issue Apology, Laptop To Controversial ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ Participant

Yesterday, we reported on the ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ controversy which rapidly found its way throughout the entire Internet. Now, Microsoft has finally issued a proper response and apology, likely due to the colossal PR catastrophe that transpired as a result of Sahas Katta blogging about the incident.

Microsoft Evangelist Ben Rudolph tweeted, stating that he had a laptop, phone, and apology to offer to Katta. “Hey @sahaskatta , @Microsoftstore & I want to make things right. So I’ve got a laptop & phone (& apology) for you. Email me!”

While it was the appropriate response in terms of PR, due to the nature of this story — primarily its rapid spread throughout practically every technology blog, even finding its way to the front page of Reddit — Microsoft ended up in a lose-lose situation. If they stood by their reported Windows Phone victory, they would have been heavily criticized for hosting a rigged competition. But, in providing Katta the laptop (and a bonus phone), people attribute the company’s apology to the situation being such a PR nightmare (i.e Microsoft would have done nothing if it didn’t become such a news headline.) But, it t was really the best they could’ve done.

The big question is, where does this leave the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign now? Overnight, the enthusiasm surrounding the campaign was essentially crushed. The campaign went from being fun and admirable — as when Rudolph lost, he admitted it and issued the prize money to contestants with no quips — to being thought of as a rigged-from-the-beginning “competition” by much of the Internet, or as a casino, where the house always wins.

So, now that Katta received his goodies, what is he doing with them? He announced in a new blog post on Monday that he plans to auction off both the laptop and phone to charity, donating 100% of the proceeds.

Microsoft Kicks Off Widespread ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ Contest

During CES, the ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ competition was born. In it, a user would try to perform a task on their Android or iOS device in less time than the Windows Phone (which, at the time, was handled by ‘Softie Ben Rudolph.) If they beat the Windows Phone, they receive $100, and if they didn’t, they’d have to acknowledge that their smartphone was smoked by Windows Phone. Since this competition’s inception, it’s gained quite a fair bit of traction, recently becoming a widespread digital ad campaign.

Microsoft is continuing to cultivate the popular competition. For a limited time, Microsoft has brought the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge to their brick-and-mortar stores, and the stakes have been raised. Now, if you do manage to smoke the Windows Phone, you’d win a Hunger Games Special Edition HP Folio 13, valued at around $1,000. And if you lose? You’ll have the opportunity to swap your current smartphone for a Windows Phone (but, unfortunately not a Lumia 800.)

So, in both cases it’s a win-win for participants. But, of course, this is limited to brick-and-mortar Microsoft Stores, which are currently sparse.

Smoked By Windows Phone Ignites Into A Digital Ad Campaign

Remember the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign, where Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph headed to CES, challenging smartphone users to tasks to see which phone can complete them the quickest? Starting today, Microsoft is debuting a new digital ad campaign showing off the many victories — Windows Phone won 88% of the time at CES (95% if you factor in the California Smoked by Windows Phone tour) — in 15 to 30 second segments. Among the sites that the ads will be shown on are Forbes, CNET, Entertainment Tonight, Geek.com, and Daily Candy.

Microsoft’s recent, increasingly aggressive advertising approach against competitors has been quite entertaining. What I like — and what I think people will like — about this particular campaign, however, is that, unlike the Gmail man and Googlighting videos, Microsoft is attacking the products of its competitors by showing how their own products are better. The videos attacking Google, however, are exaggerated (but I found them funny, with a true underlying message.)

If YouTube comments are any metric of public reception, the feedback of Smoked by Windows Phone has been far more positive than that of the recent Googlighting video. Also, speaking of YouTube, the videos of the challenges have been viewed over 500,000 times. This is one of the few genuinely cool ad campaigns produced by Microsoft, and it would be cool if they also produced a “Smoked” television commercial. And if Ben goes on a coast-to-coast Smoked By Windows Phone tour.