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Microsoft disowns Nokia cybersquatting prank

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Microsoft has blamed a lone, crazed cybersquatter for hijacking Nokia-related domains and diverting them to The Beast's own rival PocketPC website.

The prank works like this. Type www.series60.com into your browser - that's as in Series 60, the name of the software platform for Symbian smartphones that Nokia launched at Comdex - and you'll find yourself magically transported to www.microsoft.com/mobile, where you can read all about The Microsoft® Smartphone Software Solution, which offers both voice and rich wireless data capa[that's enough - ed.].

Yesterday Redmond told us that it was the work of a single cybersquatter, acting alone:-

"Microsoft definitely doesn't relate to this domain in any way, and doesn't condone these pranks," a spokesperson told us.

The Series 60 domain was registered on 15 November, two days after Nokia made its landmark Open Mobile Architecture (OMA) announcement at Comdex.

"It's funny!" a Nokia spokesperson told us, his grimace almost visible over a crackly GSM link to Helsinki*.

"All of Nokia's website branding falls under the xxx.nokia.com domain," he said, "in order to maintain consistency in our customer experience." And no, Nokia wouldn't be taking action.

Lone gunman

So who's the perpetrator? The Series 60 domain is registered to the InterCosmos Media Group, a Louisiana-based TLD registrar, which owns the DirectNIC registrar. Calls to DirectNIC to reveal the identity of the real domain holder have so far been unsuccessful.

For good measure, the prankster also registered Series 20, Series 40 and Series 80 domains on December 3rd using a bogus name and address. In fact the applicant successfully filed all three domains under the name "First Name Last Name", which suggests that DirectNICs auditing procedures are a little less than razor-sharp this week.

Of course we didn't suspect for a moment that Microsoft - the world's most successful software company and a technology industry ambassador feted by heads of state - would stoop to such peevish and childish behaviour. Uh, did we?

Then we remembered the transcript of a press conference Microsoft held in October last year in London, featuring veeps Juha Christensen and Ben Waldman, the two Microsoft execs most in need of earplugs this evening.

Christensen had been poached from Symbian - Microsoft's public enemy number one - and had been instrumental in creating the Symbian consortium, which is the cellphone industry's bedrock OS for fancy next-generation phones.
As we recall, each time Waldman or Christensen mentioned the word Symbian, the microphone mysteriously stopped working, with the S-- word replaced in the transcript by (inaudible). It's the love that dare not speak its name...

That's when we decided to call Redmond, so they could confirm something we already knew, and dismiss something that we hadn't even thought of.

So the hunt continues for the identity of the Series 60 prankster. Is he alone, or working with an accomplice firing Nokia-related domain names from the book repository? We hope to have this cleared up real soon now. ®

*This might be explained by the fact that today is Independence Day in Finland - and many happy returns to our Finnish readers. We'll be celebrating by watching Aki Kaurismaki's Ariel for the first time, a video of which has just come our way. When the going gets tacky, you need Aki...

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