We first got a look at Microsoft’s Windows Phone Challenge at the CES, where the company’s Ben Rudolph put his Windows Phone handset up head-to-head against a competitor’s phone, seeing who would be able to perform some common phone tasks the fastest. Anyone lucky enough to squeeze by Rudolph found themselves a hundred dollars richer, while the losers had to make a public video admission that their handsets got smoked by the speed of a Windows Phone model. Since then, we’ve seen the contest revived, with Ben taking things on the road for a tour of the company’s California stores. Most recently, Microsoft’s stepped-up the reward for triumphing in the competition, giving winners a $1000 laptop. Could the presence of this new, more valuable prize be causing Microsoft to be a little less than fair with how it decides who’s won?
Sahas Katta recently decided to try his luck putting his Galaxy Nexus up against Windows Phone in hopes of scoring a new laptop. After heading to a store, getting registered, and going through the required steps to prepare his phone, he was ready to play. The stated challenge was to display the weather in two different cities; luckily for Katta, he had two weather widgets on his home screen, for two different cities, and no lock screen set up. As soon as he powered-on his phone, he announced success.
Here’s where things get sketchy: Katta claims that he was immediately told he had lost, and when pressing Microsoft employees for an explanation why, was told “just because”. Upon further discussions, one worker claimed Katta’s result didn’t count because the two cities for which he showed the weather were in the same state and the contest required they be from separate states a stipulation never mentioned in advance.
Katta was understandably upset by this experience, and blogged away his frustrations. Now that his story is getting some attention, Ben Rudolph himself reached out to Katta over Twitter, promising to make things right and hook him up with the prizes he deserves. That’s a happy ending to this story, but we can’t help but wonder how many other people might be getting a similar run-around by Microsoft retail employees when they show-off their smartphone skills.