Microsoft coughs up prize in bungled WP7 promotion

Microsoft has acknowledged that someone managed to beat it at its own game in a mobile promotion that no one was supposed to win.

The software giant has been running a contest where, at certain Microsoft Store locations, it challenges people with an Android phone or iPhone to beat a Windows Phone-toting Microsoft employee in a specific challenge.

The challenge is called “Smoked by Windows Phone” and over the weekend, the event was held at a Microsoft Store in Santa Clara, California.

The primary point of this challenge is as a promotional gimmick, of course. The competitor is told to do something with his or her phone, like bring up a website or log into an instant messaging service. If he or she can do it faster than the Microsoft employee, the HP laptop is awarded (supposedly).

However, we all know that’s not supposed to ever happen. What Microsoft expects is that it will win, and if that happens the competitor still wins a prize – a Windows Phone, if they are willing to give up their existing phone.

During Sunday’s competition, though, one of the competitors was Sahas Katta, who was met with this challenge – display the current weather in two difference cities.

The Microsoft employee of course already had two live tiles displaying the weather in two cities, but little did she know, so did Katta.

So when Katta unlocked his phone and shouted “Done!” he thought he had just won a new laptop. Instead, the Microsoft employee said no, that she won, and would not be awarding the prize.

After this story was spread around the blogosphere, Microsoft evangelist Ben Rudolph got in contact with Katta and said he finally got his prize. He was told to go back to the Microsoft Store in question to pick it up.

“I dropped by this evening and after spending a few minutes chatting with two rather extremely friendly store managers, I walked out with a $1,049 Hunger Games Special Edition HP Folio 13 and a $899 Nokia Lumia 800 Bundle,” Katta said.