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Microsoft: 'Facebook Home just copies Windows Phone'

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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg might think his company broke new ground by building its Facebook Home skin for Android around the idea of "people first," but according to Microsoft, all the social network has done is borrow a page from Redmond's playbook.

In a post to the company's official blog on Friday, Microsoft mouthpiece Frank X. Shaw wrote that Zuck's presentation announcing Facebook Home reminded him of discussions he heard 'round the water coolers in Redmond ... in 2011.

"When we sat down with a blank sheet of paper and designed Windows Phone, we put three words on the wall to guide the team: 'Put People First'," Shaw reminisced.

During Zuckerberg's presentation on Thursday, the Behoodied One explained that Facebook's goal was to shift the emphasis of the smartphone experience "away from tasks and apps and toward people." According to Shaw, that's exactly what Microsoft set out to do with Windows Phone, too.

"People are more important than apps, so phones should be designed around you and the people you care about, not the apps you might use to reach them," Shaw wrote.

In case you don't believe him, Shaw went as far to post a promotional video for Windows Phone that features the slogan "Put people first" displayed prominently throughout. And lest you assume the video was cleverly cooked up after the fact, it's actually promoting Windows Phone 7.5, not 8:

Putting people first is so 2011

Shaw went on to explain how Windows Phone's Live Tiles bring all sorts of people-centric services together in one screen – by combining Facebook messages with email and SMS in one Tile, for example.

At the same time, Shaw couldn't resist getting in a knock against Android, the Google-built smartphone OS upon which Facebook Home is based, noting that its UI offers nothing to compare with what Windows Phone delivers.

"We understand why Facebook would want to find a way to bring similar functionality to a platform that is sadly lacking it," Shaw wrote. "But as Android owners know, that platform is complicated enough without adding another skin built around another metaphor, on top of what is already a custom variant of the OS."

Fair point. But here at Vulture Annex in San Francisco, we can't help but note that Android is currently the most popular smartphone platform in the world, while Windows Phone is, well ... not.

In fact, last we heard, sales of Windows Phone have remained so dismal that Shaw himself has admitted that Microsoft's platform is outselling Apple's iPhone in a mere seven markets – including Argentina, India, Russia, South Africa, and a smattering of Eastern European countries. And when he said that, Shaw didn't even bother to mention Android, which is handily clobbering both its rivals in all of those regions.

So it's easy to see why Shaw would be miffed to see all this Facebook foofaraw, given that Microsoft hasn't managed much success with a phone OS based on similar ideas.

But we have to wonder: if Facebook Home really is so similar to Windows Phone, what does that bode for sales of the HTC First, the first preloaded Facebook Home handset, due to arrive on AT&T's network for $99.99 on April 12? Your humble Reg hack dares not speculate. ®

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