Microsoft's anti-Android Twitter campaign draws ire, irony
Wags take Redmond to task on malware issue
Microsoft has launched a repeat of a Twitter-based anti-Android marketing stunt that it first tried last year, but this year's campaign seems to have netted the software giant more than it bargained for.
On Wednesday, Redmond's official Windows Phone Twitter feed at @WindowsPhone laid into Google's mobile OS for being vulnerable to malware, citing a recent Sophos Security Threat Report that labeled Android as "today's biggest target."
In a series of tweets, the Microsofties went on to outline a rather sarcastic three-step plan for dealing with smartphone malware:
Step 1. Wait for your Android phone to get infected with Malware
Step 2. Recover from SMS scam bill shock
Step 3. Skip steps 1 & 2, buy a Windows Phone and connect with people you care about instead of some hacker plotting in a dark basement
The feed followed up this advice with an exhortation first made by Microsoft product evangelist Ben Rudolph in 2011, in which he called upon Android users who were frustrated with malware to tweet their woes using the hashtag #DroidRage.
Do you have an Android malware horror story? Reply with #DroidRage with your best/worst story and we may have a get-well present for you.— Windows Phone (@windowsphone) December 5, 2012
This year's Windows Phone team tweet didn't give any specifics, but for last year's stunt, Rudolph offered the tellers of his five favorite sob stories each a free Windows Phone.
While a few Android customers seemed willing to play along, however, citing tales of deceptive apps that spammed everyone in their contacts list or sent premium-rate SMS messages, the majority of this year's participants were more inclined to treat the stunt with ridicule.
Many of them used the hashtag campaign to mock the idea that Android customers were in "rage" over their devices, comparing the platform's market share to that of Windows Phone:
Others were just disappointed in Microsoft's apparent willingness to tear down the competition, rather than promote its own products in a positive fashion:
One of the more popular observations, however, was that Microsoft should perhaps be more careful about throwing stones where malware is concerned:
Ironically, similar comments were made last year by Graham Cluley of Sophos – the same Sophos whose report Microsoft cited as proof of the Android malware problem – who described the #DroidRage hashtag campaign as "a somewhat below-the-belt punch."
"I guess it must be kind of thrilling for Microsoft ... to find the malware boot on the other foot for once," Cluley wrote at the time. "After all, they have long suffered having the Windows desktop operating system negatively compared to the likes of Unix and Mac OS X when it comes to the levels of malware infection."
To follow the full blow-by-blow of this year's anti-Android marketing ploy, readers can grab some popcorn, surf on over to Twitter.com, and search for the #DroidRage hashtag.
Here at The Reg's San Francisco outpost, however, our favorite comment on the subject so far came from Peter Durfee, whose own droid rage had nothing to do with malware:
My pathetic underlings failed to shoot down the escape pod since it had "no life forms aboard." Death Star plans: gone. #DroidRage— Peter Durfee (@Durf) December 5, 2012
Sorry to hear about those plans, Pete. ®
Android isn't perfect. Neither is iOS, Symbian, Tizen or Windows Phone. BBX might be, given that QNX is amazing, but we'll have to wait and see on that. (Even with a "perfect" OS, if there are no apps and the vendor's name is mud, what hope is there?)
The difference is: Android is open source, and Apple has a strong core of people who trust it. With Android, you aren't reliant on Google; if they Oracle us, we'll fork them.
Microsoft's strong core of people who trust them is [insert phone sales here]. Non-zero, but not what it used to be, either. In fact, they've been so busy aiming for the middle of the bell curve with such laser precision, they haven't' realised that at some point, everyone belongs to the edges. By pissing off nearly every niche over the past few years, they've alienated entire generations of people.
Microsoft doesn't have trust. It doesn't have apps. It doesn't have wow, it doesn't have buy-in.
So it doesn't matter if Android is flawed. It doesn't matter if Windows Phone is superior, equal or worse. What matters is that at least three generations of individuals in today's markets are looking at the Microsoft brand name associated with Windows Phone and saying "no. Not again."
When this happens – when your brand name is so strongly associated with things like malware, enthusiast antagonism, anti-competitive practices, lock-in, hostile licensing, anti-consumer scandals (plays for sure, does it?) and so forth – you've got bigger problems than the launch of one phone operating system.
Microsoft is facing the reality that habitually screwing over their customers has created such broad animosity that they are now a legacy vendor. You heard me: Microsoft are a legacy vendor. They are going to have a miserable time entering new markets. Not because they aren't technically competent, but because of how they have treated customers. They need an image reformation, and they need that soon.
No new interface – Ribbon, Metrololo or otherwise – can cover up the urgent need for a massive change in corporate culture.
Microsoft may have the world by the balls, but then, so did mainframe vendors not so long ago. So did Novell. So did RIM. IBM still sells mainframes. HP still sells Itanics. Novell still authenticates users and RIM still pushes email. Yet to call any of these vendors anything but legacy in these markets is insane; they don't have customers, they have hostages. Microsoft is no different today.
Windows RT, Server 2012 (hyper-V + storage) and Windows Phone are all excellent products. Windows RT is a top notch tablet platform that deserves serious consideration. Server 2012 can go to toe to toe with VMware. Windows Phone has consistently proven to be capable, fast and have great battery life.
So what is holding back explosive adoption? Nobody wants to play with Microsoft any more. They are just tired of getting treated like a prostitute whose loyalty is assured by their substance dependence. Microsoft expects that they can slap us around and we'll crawl back up the steps the next morning, looking for a hit.
They have treated us like this for so long that you would have to be out of your right mind to want to marry yourself to them in a new market.
Microsoft is a fantastic organisation populated by some of the smartest people on the planet. They are capable of amazing innovation and technology leadership, not simply following others. They have demonstrated this over and over again, even in their newest line of products.
That isn't enough any more; there are others that can do this too.
If Microsoft wants to succeed, they need a "mea culpa" moment. Where they admit the sins of the past, make the changes required to win back consumer, small business and enterprise loyalty; they need to undertake some dramatic steps to polish their tarnished corporate image.
They can be replaced. They are being replaced. One Android phone, iPad, VMware licence, and Google Apps subscription at a time.
Re: Hackers would go after Windows phones...
@JDX - really! Linux not being very popular then on consumer devices?
I know you are probably trolling but underneath every android handset is linux. And every iphone and ipad essentially runs a version of *nix, not to mention the Mac. Or quite a lot of netbooks.
Oh, and the raspberry pi, yes there is that. I think they sold a few of those too.
Oh, and most consumer NAS drives. Oh, and quite a lot of routers.
But no, nobody would pay for any of those would they?
I'm assuming you are doing those posts to keep your gold badge. Don't worry about posting informed critique or comment, just put loads of comments in any article so you can keep your gold badge. Bless.
What is it with Microsoft?
I don't know of any other organisation suffering such a severe and persistent case of foot-and-mouth disease.