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Microsoft's anti-Android Twitter campaign draws ire, irony

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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.

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:

Sorry to hear about those plans, Pete. ®

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