Smoked by Windows Phone Contest “Rules”

“Smoked by Windows Phone” was a great PR campaign by Microsoft to help promote the Windows Phone platform. Originally launched at CES 2012, “Smoked by Windows Phone” challenges smartphone users to pit their handset against one running Windows Phone 7.5 to see which phone can perform common tasks quicker. In the video above, poor Justin was *this* close to scoring a cool $100 for finding a four-star Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas (I call shenanigans on any four-star Chinese restaurant by the way); sadly his Samsung Galaxy Nexus wasn’t up to the challenge.

Since CES, Microsoft has relaunched the “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign but unfortunately not without some controversy. Sahas Katta of Skattertech.com┬árecently took the Windows Phone challenge at the Microsoft Store in Santa Clara, CA with a different result. Armed with his┬áSamsung Galaxy Nexus and stock version of ICS, Katta was tasked with displaying the weather of two cities. Katta had already installed two widgets on his home screen that displayed the local temperatures of San Jose, CA and another fore Berkley, CA. Katta also turned off the option of having a lock screen on the phone. The Microsoft Store employee had verified that his phone was fully powered down prior to starting the contest and at no point objected to either of the aforementioned settings on the phone.

Katta won the contest upon starting up his phone, again 2 widgets displaying two different city’s local weather without the additional step of unlocking his phone’s screen, but it was ruled that he had lost. Keep in mind that both the weather widget and the disabling of the lock feature are both out-of-the box, non-hacked options in Android 4.0. Neither action nor the phone would have violated Microsoft’s contest rules.

It’s sad to hear that Microsoft would have backed out of their own contest; especially since a $1,000 laptop (the prize up for grabs) would probably be cheaper than having to repair their image. The “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign is still a great piece of marketing on its own – win or lose, but by giving Katta the shaft it makes it appear as if Windows Phone needs help against its main competitor. Let’s hope Microsoft does the right thing and then never lets this happen again.

UPDATE: It looks like Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph has reached out to Katta to make things right. Rudolph has offered to send Katta the laptop in question and threw in a brand new Windows Phone for good measure. Full story on Electronista.