Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Microsoft's Multicultural Missteps

JO BEST, CNET NEWS - Microsoft's lack of multicultural savvy cost the Redmond, Wash., behemoth millions of dollars, according to a company executive. The software giant has seen its products banned in some of the biggest markets on earth -- and it's all because of eight wrongly colored pixels, a dodgy choice of music and a bad English-to-Spanish dictionary. Speaking at the International Geographical Union congress in Glasgow last week, Microsoft's top man in its geopolitical strategy team, Tom Edwards, revealed how one of the biggest companies in the world managed to offend one of the biggest countries in the world with a political faux pas.

When coloring in 800,000 pixels on a map of India, Microsoft colored eight of them a different shade of green to represent the disputed Kashmiri territory. The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as non-Indian, and the product was promptly banned in India. Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try to heal the diplomatic wounds. "It cost millions," Edwards said...

Another blunder from Microsoft involved the use of chanting of the Quran as a soundtrack for a computer game, which was roundly denounced by the government of Saudi Arabia and then banned.

A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation.

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