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Ben Rudolph answers accusations of Smoked by Windows Phone rule bending

WP Central

Ben (the "PC Guy") Rudolph has publicly addressed the disappointment of Sahas Katta, who felt slighted when the Microsoft employee he beat in the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge refused to accept defeat and provide him with his prize - a limited edition laptop worth $1,000.

Rudolph has apologised to Katta via Twitter and has stated he has a Windows Phone and the laptop prize for him. As well as offering a phone, the laptop and a public apology on behalf of the Microsoft Store involved, Rudolph also tweeted the following:

"I stand behind #smokedbywindowsphone wins (and losses) 100%...even when I'm not the one doing the challenges.  And always will!"

It's positive to see Microsoft at least attempt to set things right should reports pop up that their highly marketed challenges could well be staged. We'll never be 100% sure as to what actually happened, and have to take Katta's word for it, but shouldn't we expect some issues to arise when multiple employees are hosting a marketing stunt?

Source: @BenThePCGuy; thanks everyone who tipped us!

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Reader comments

Ben Rudolph answers accusations of Smoked by Windows Phone rule bending

47 Comments

That Ben is a good guy, that is how to treat people right and uphold your reputation and that of the company you work for. Nice job!

Bottom line is that the weather challenge has no discernable advantages between android and windows phone. Just stop allowing that challenge and call it a draw.

Well, WP7 only allows GPS toggling every 30 mins to update a live tile while Android can update a GPS weather widget it instantly.

GPS batches in a background thread based on distance moved. As for live tiles, background agents update every 30 minutes, but there's also the case of push notifications and in app updating. Push notifications/services can be much more constant and as often as the service wants.
As a developer of both, the updating of widgets vs tiles, is really down to the implementation. They might go about their implementation in different ways but both are possible. Updating it constantly can be a bit battery heavy too, you could constantly be using a push to phone tiles to update weather tiles, but performance can be an issue.
I will admit that having a weather widget right on the homescreen is basically the same as having a live tile on the start screen, so both are ridiculous for the challenge, that should have been draw in my mind. Might as well say get the time. It should have been more like launch the weather app and update the weather.
Either way good for Ben Rudolph for sticking to his guns. By and large Windows is decimating the competition, I wouldn't feel to bad about losing to a few tech bloggers.

Really it comes down to what OS works for you Apple is still the best for one reason they can update there os ms can not though they can do it in Zune how long did it take to get nodo.or the keyboard fix until the update issue is resolve all the fast adds in the world does not mean a hill of beans

No offense, but that was when Windows was in its infancy, there updates are smooth now. So comparing a fully matured OS to one when it was new, kind of defeats any purpose of your point.
How many SII owners have 4.0 yet? Can't really base it off of that. 
You can update your OS...that's a new one.

I think a re-match is in order. After reading the blog, being prepared with 2 Weather tiles on hand is not exactly a real challenge. I don't get how he thinks this is a real everyday task and be rather proud of it.
Kudos for beating a clueless MS Employee. You must be so proud.

Either way, this is a PR issue that Microsoft simply cannot afford at such a critical junction in the mobile OS game. A $1,000 laptop, phone and apology goes a long way towards calming the waters, and eventually putting them back in the good spotlight.

Jabtano - you can update the OS on iPhones but you have reduced functionality because of the hardware differences (Siri for example), not really a good comparison.. Id take windowsphone everyday of the week over iphone, itunes and their bu£ine££ model will eventually ruin apple.. They need to start listening to the people and giving them what they want

So true!!!
Unlike iOS updates, Windows Phone updates actually make devices smoother and faster. Tango is set to do that even yet again.

It makes me wonder if they'd just assumed they'd always win the challenge? This sort of thing will never go according to plan 100% of the time, you'll hit an unexpected strategy that'll be a little faster, the employee will fat-finger the phone, your opponent will get lucky... having to give up the laptop occasionally is just an inherent part of this marketing strategy, an expense. If they'd just given the guy the laptop in the first place, this might have been a small story, and everyone outside of the geeky parts of the internet would have never heard of it, Microsoft would get their marketing footage, and it would have been fine.
I wonder what on Earth they were thinking, not just giving this guy his laptop.

I agree. I feel a better strategy would be to show off the capabilities of the OS in terms of how "efficient" they are instead of "how fast". You're right - there are too many variables to always guarantee the "fastest results". Instead, promoting how Live Tiles make things so much easier, and how the Metro design focuses on usability and simplicity would go a long way towards educating the public. Too bad they're still focused on how "fast" you can do things.

Hey mmaestro.
"If they'd just given the guy the laptop in the first place, this might have been a small story, and everyone outside of the geeky parts of the internet would have never heard of it..."

Incidents like this, although probably not intentional, do more to further the marketing efforts than pure success.  Just as you highlighted, more people are now hearing about the challenge than otherwise would have if everything went smoothly.  I'm in commission sales and when you do a great job, that's what's expected. When something goes wrong, you have a chance to shine and you'll be remembered more for how your responded to an issue more than if things just all went as they are supposed to.

Hopefully they clear up the rules and make the challenges more relevant to show off the platform.  Despite this incident, and probably a number more to follow, the OS is seriously impressing a lot of people.  Everyone is a skeptic but everyone is less so when they actually see, or especially when they use the platform.

Maybe they didn't have any laptops left after losing a few times because the store's employees all have android phones and don't know how to run a windows phone properly:) In other words, there are so many variables involved in the challenge that it seems too hard to be objective.

Personally I thought that the MS store employee was probably just bitter for losing as that's what it sounded like. Ben does seem like a good customer representative though as some others have pointed out the comparisons could be have been thought out a bit better.

What I like about this and has nothing to do with WP or android or IOS? Ben's being willing to be held accountable for this, whether the challenge is suspect or no. You don't often see accountability in this industry and I work in it every day. He didnt have to be accountable and most wouldnt be, just pass the buck and blame the store rep. He didnt and I applaud that! Kudos to him!

Ben is the originator - MS should keep this little bit of marketing limited to him. That way we won't have upsets like this. 
Kudos to Ben and MS for putting this right - "Putting People First".

If memory serves me correctly, when Ben originally did the challenges the rule was that contestants had to unlock the screen.  Is that designed to favor Windows Phone?  Correct.  In fact, the whole contest is.  However, I can see how that will cause problems if that stipulation isn't addressed before hand.

Next time they should make it a rule to start from power-off state. Windows Phone will win everytime no matter the challenge :-)

The day every phone comes with a custom Android ROM out-of-the-box is the day that guy wins. Here's your phone, here's your laptop...and congratulations for being the first one to screw it up for everybody.

Disabling the lock screen does NOT require a rom....it is a feature under the settings menu. Windows phones win almost all of the challenges, just pay up when they lose once in a blue moon, or they can take that challenge away in the future if the MS stores don't want to pay up.

On this site and others, MS has gotten some praise for quickly trying to quell any negativity the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign created. However, lots of negativity was raised by the AT&T decision to not push out the 8107 update. People like myself are pretty upset about this (my phone has some issues right now, 8107 won't address them all but I'd love to have the best experience as possible). Where MS in all of this? I realize this ultimately comes down to AT&T, but a statement saying that MS understands the frustrations of its users and that they are working with AT&T to better articulate the platform's future would be greatly appreciated. 

ABSOLUTELY get ben involved in this issue maybe just maybe someone who matters will listen to him 0n the 8107 AT&T system killing stance where it does matter to people NOT being put first.

Here's the deal, I went to the same store and did the same challenge. They make you sign a press release and there is a copy of the rules for you. It seems he didn't have his phone locked and he didn't find the weather in the right places, he obviously did his research and came in trying to beat the system. He most likely had his phone set up specifically in such a way that he could do most of the challenges. Many of which he would have still lost if he had his phone locked like he was supposed to. I don't really know of anyone who completely disables screen lock and just walks around ready to lose all their info when they lose their phone...

 
I also think this has something to do with it being a handful of people they picked to be in the contents (on the MS side), probably grabbed a couple of people the week before and did some quick training with the 5 tasks. I'm sure they get some kind of bad mark if they lose, so I would chalk this up to employee enthusiasm vs MS maliciousness. However, that is if the rules were followed, but i think with something this public you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the contestant. 

The simple fact that Android advocates are rooting their phones, turning off their lockscreens, and other unusual customizations to compete with standard Windows Phones means that Microsoft is onto something big here.
 
They wouldn't undergo such extraordinary efforts if HP had a similar webOS challenge, for example.

Stock Galaxy Nexus out of the box:
1. settings
2. security
3. screen lock
4. none
No root required.

So a four-layer deep customization that requires extensive knowledge of the OS and makes the phone far less secure, against a Windows Phone that does it securely out of the box.
 
The fact that the Google product requires such extensive customization and shut-off of key security features just to keep up proves Microsoft's point.
 
"You can make your Android device as fast as a Windows Phone!  Just turn off all screen-lock security features and drill deep into the OS, following these steps."

The challenge was for cities in two different states. So technically he lost. He came prepared but looked stupid not following instructions and now wants to cry about it.

There should be guide lines to the challenge.. Looking at a weather app is not a challenge.. Taking a picture and posting it up on face book it. Even of you take the picture. Make it black and white then post it on Facebook.. The challenge was a stupid challenge to begin with

Kid cheated. He set up his phone so that everything was ready beforehand. That's like looking at the answers to a flashcard question, memorizing it, and then yelling it out the moment they flash the card. Microsoft basically called him on it. He bitched about it. And Microsoft thought "what the hell" and gave him his prize that he cheated to get.
Would an iOS challenge go as smoothly? I bet not.
Regardless, as a former Android user, I can safely say that WP7 is simply faster in so many regards. Android phones need a dual core processor and a faster GPU to run half as smooth as WP7. What does that say about Android? Yeah.. it's like a tank.
 

Lol, there would never be an iOS challegne like this because apple tells their consumers "facts" without proving them. (ex: the new iPhone 4s has a dual core processor which makes it twice as fast...)
 
This WP challenge was a smart marketing tool.

I knew this "challenge" would blow up in Microsoft's face! Steve "Sweatypits" Ballmer must scrap this nonsense and stop the bleeding NOW!!

I think my main complaint about this is that the kid who complained about not winning seems like the sort to not try out WP7 and get a feel for it himself, but to instead go on eBay and see how much he can net for it.
Anyone who goes out of their way to disable lock screens and "conveniently" have 2 different weather widgets obviously knew the contest & wanted to beat it.  Even over in Slickdeals forums you have many people trying to overclock this and root that in the hopes of beating this challenge - sad when you figure the contest was intended for stock Android/iOS experience vs stock WP7 experience.

It is good publicity.  Every Android user's response to this thread helps Microsoft's case.
 
"I can make my Android as fast as the Windows Phone!  I just need to shut off security, root it, modify twenty-six settings, and create a custom view JUST for the competition, and I can match the stock Windows Phone experience in this limited test!"
 
Why not get actual security, no need to root, no need to change settings, and a "real" phone experience (rather than one "optimized to win")?
 
Oops.  Google loses.