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Most memorable tech industry apologies of 2012: From Apple to Google to Microsoft

Bob Brown | Nov. 9, 2012
Tech vendors have been as bombastic as ever promoting the magical and amazing things their latest smartphones, cloud computing wares and network gear can do. When things go wrong, they're naturally a little less visible, but plenty of companies have sucked it up and done the right thing this year (perhaps with a little legal prodding here and there) and publicly apologized for minor and major customers inconveniences.

*Naughty Microsoft

With all the challenges to its Office and Windows products, does Microsoft really need headaches like these, too? Among the issues Microsoft has apologized for in 2012: a coder slipping the term "big boobs" into software code connecting the Linux kernel to Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization product, and a raunchy dance routine that preceded an Azure presentation in Norway. 

As Network World's Paul McNamara wrote about the coding issue: "Some chucklehead working for Microsoft thought it would be funny to slip a thinly camouflaged sexist remark - 'big boobs' -- into software code that connects the Linux kernel to Microsoft's HyperV virtualization product. Naturally, someone noticed -- that was the intent (snicker, snicker) - and, as should surprise no one, criticism has ensued, since the vast majority of grownups have come to recognize that this kind of juvenile nonsense has no place in the business world."

Microsoft issued an apology: "We thank the community for reporting this issue and apologize for the offensive string. We have submitted a patch to fix this issue and the change will be published in a future release of the kernel."

As for the dance routine in June, Microsoft's Azure team issued this apology: "This week's Norwegian Developer's Conference included a skit that involved inappropriate and offensive elements and vulgar language. We apologize to our customers and our partners and are actively looking into the matter."

Once that was settled, Microsoft was able to focus on apologizing for interruptions to Azure service, such as it did in July when its cloud offering went on the fritz in Western Europe. "We sincerely apologize for any issues this caused impacted customers, and will make the necessary adjustments to help prevent a similar issue from occurring in the future. Impacted customers should contact support to file an SLA credit," wrote Mike Neil, general manager, Windows Azure, on a company blog

On the less racy side, Microsoft also apologized to a blogger in March in the wake of a Windows Phone marketing promotion called "Smoked by Windows Phone" that proved unfair when store employees failed to recognize the blogger's Samsung Galaxy Nexus the winner of a $1,000 laptop prize. Microsoft PC evangelist Ben Rudolph came to the rescue, via Twitter, once the story got picked up: "Hey @sahaskatta , @Microsoftstore & I want to make things right. So I've got a laptop & phone (& apology) for you. Email me!," @BenThePCGuy tweeted.

*Amazon cloud crash

People tend to notice when Amazon Web Service's cloud offerings collapse, not that they necessarily realize Amazon is involved. Rather, it's the companies whose websites depend on AWS that get noticed, and often wind up apologizing to their customers.


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