updated 08:25 am EDT, Mon March 26, 2012
Incidents show Windows Phone comparisons stacked
At least some shoppers have accused Microsoft of rigging its retail "Smoked by Windows Phone" tests to favor itself. One incident that happened to a SkatterTech writer saw him legitimately handle a test faster than a Windows Phone on his Galaxy Nexus. He did so by showing the weather for two different cities, for which he happened to already have two different widgets available. Despite this, and having already used an official feature of Android 4.0 that disables the lock screen (thus getting to the home screen more rapidly), retail staff insisted that the Windows Phone had won, despite taking longer.
When pressed, Microsoft Store staff reportedly used thin reasoning to justify its position, arguing that they had won "just because" and inventing a condition requiring that the cities be in different states. While terms allow Microsoft to disqualify anyone who "cheats," its definitions are vague and likely wouldn't include someone who was using features built into Android 4.0.
More serious accusations have followed with commentary on the story at Reddit. Microsoft was alleged to be deliberately throttling Wi-Fi speeds for non-Windows Phone devices attached to its store network. While this might be to prevent people outside the store from exploiting its Internet access, it would have the effect of artificially biasing the tests by letting Windows Phones work at full speed.
Microsoft hasn't responded to the claims.
While it remains possible that the stores are trying to justify mistakes, they also come as Microsoft has much stronger incentives to win than with the tests Microsoft conducted that Electronista saw at CES and Mobile World Congress. Either trade show, which saw most of the challengers come from the media or otherwise technically savvy users, were more than willing to let an Android device, iPhone, or other platform win, but often for much smaller prizes. At its retail stores, Microsoft not only has to award a $1,000 HP ultrabook if it loses but may have to give up one or more potential customers. The contest still offers a Windows Phone free on contract if the shopper loses.