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[ NNSquad ] Microsoft's Bizarre Anti-Google "Scroogled" Campaign Jumps the Shark -- Again!

          Microsoft's Bizarre Anti-Google "Scroogled" Campaign Jumps the Shark -- Again!


I know some great people up at Microsoft, including top-notch software
engineers.  And these days -- more and more -- I find myself feeling
sorry for them.

I don't believe it's my place to ask them how embarrassed and
humiliated they've become working for a once great firm that
increasingly is sinking to tactics that one would ordinarily associate
with Tea Party wacko campaigns.

Yet, Microsoft's increasingly bizarre, anti-Google "Scroogled"
campaign is doing exactly that, and while we thought Microsoft had
"jumped the shark" in the past, their new chapter is even more strange
and inexplicable.  In fact, when I mentioned this to a few people this
morning, I got responses back suggesting that perhaps the new campaign
hadn't really been approved, or that the site had been hacked.  One
person told me they did a WHOIS lookup just to verify that it really
was a Microsoft site at all (it is).

I'm not going to provide any link juice to Scroogled in this posting,
but the gist of Microsoft's latest weird assertions is clear enough.

Microsoft is attempting to make a "Google is evil" argument by
suggesting that Google is purposely trying to confuse Gmail users into
not knowing the difference between legit email and advertising.

And if you merely look at the home page for this new campaign (which
has a key contextual label obscured!) or watch the associated scary
sounding video (which has that same key contextual label blurred!) you
might actually fall for Microsoft's misdirection.

But if you dig a little deeper, you discover that -- as has become the
modus operandi for Microsoft these days -- the real story is nothing
like what Microsoft claims.

Yes, Google has a Gmail ad style that delivers in the format of an
email message within Gmail.  But there are two crucial reasons why
it's virtually impossible for anyone to confuse these ads with normal
non-advertising mail.

First, the ad messages are clearly and uniquely labeled as ... ads!
Not only that, the labeling is in a format that is different from that
used for any other email you receive via Gmail.

But as if that weren't enough, these ad messages don't appear in your
primary inbox tab as implied by Microsoft, but in the new Gmail
"Promotions" tab (that's the label I noted as being covered or blurred
in the two instances mentioned above).

The Promotions tab is specifically where Gmail attempts to sort
emailed promotions, ads, and related materials that aren't categorized
as spam.

So, quite literally, Microsoft is complaining that Gmail is labeling
its ads as ads, and placing them in a Gmail tab specifically
designated for ads, separate from all your other email.

Perhaps this might confuse a completely inebriated Homer Simpson, but
it's hard to see how anyone else could possibly confuse such ads with
the rest of their email in the manner that Microsoft's Scroogled
campaign is breathlessly claiming.

If Microsoft is planning to keep repeatedly jumping the shark with
this kind of pathetic, misleading material, they might wish to
consider opening up a marine research facility and giving up on
computers entirely.

On the other hand, then we'd have to worry about Microsoft posting
exaggerated and misleading (wait for it ...) "fish stories."

(Disclaimer: I'm an occasional consultant to Google. My postings would
be exactly the same if I weren't.)
  - - -
Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org/pfir-info
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://google.com/+LaurenWeinstein 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
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