Is this Microsoft site legit?

[The answer, it turns out, is yes. See update at end of this post.]

Via Neowin, I ran across a pointer to a new site called Windows and Me. It certainly looks like an official Microsoft site, with Windows and Microsoft logos and copyright notices splattered all over the home page. This is the footer on the home page, for example:

image

The site is very slick, and its colors and design are very Microsoft-like. But the closer I look, the more I’m skeptical of this site’s legitimacy. Here are a few observations and some facts that I was able to turn up in five minutes of searching:

  • The About Us link leads to the Microsoft India home page.
  • The footer refers to “Windows live” and “Windows mobile,” both of which are capitalized (as trademarks) on the official Microsoft U.S. site but are lower-cased here.
  • The Windows and Me login system uses an e-mail ID and password combination but is not linked to Microsoft’s Passport or Windows Live ID services.
  • The opening page has a slick Flash animation. Most newly designed Microsoft sites are using Silverlight for animations and other rich content.
  • Trying to register takes you to a contest sign-up page, ostensibly run by Microsoft India. The contest terms and conditions make it clear that the contest is only open to residents of India.
  • The Privacy Statement is ostensibly from Microsoft, and the address at the bottom of the statement is identical to the contact information Microsoft lists for its India subsidiary, but the text of the statement is completely unlike the official Privacy Statement at the Microsoft India site.
  • A Whois search reveals that the domain is hosted by GoDaddy and the registered owner is NetCarrots.com of New Delhi, which identifies itself as a “loyalty marketing” service and has a list of obscure, mostly Asian clients. NetCarrots.com is listed as a Microsoft Certified Partner that specializes in Custom Development Solutions.

It’s hard to make a strong case that this is a malicious site. A more likely explanation is that someone in a relatively autonomous division within Microsoft India had an idea for a website and decided to go full speed ahead without getting official clearance or bothering to read Microsoft’s corporate guidelines for design and content. It’s also possible that the site was started by a third party that crossed the line (went way over it, in fact) in its zeal to be a fan site. Either way, I strongly recommend against providing any personal information at this site until its status is clearer. If the site is official, then at the very least it should be redesigned to make it much clearer that it’s intended for residents of India and not for those in the U.S. or other countries.

Overall, this site is an excellent example of the challenges that computer users face when they confront a site like this. Is it real? Is it fake? Is it malicious? It’s hard to say for sure, based on the evidence I have at hand.

Update: After a little more poking around, I found this in the NetCarrots Newsletter:

NetCarrots takes a giant leap forward in the loyalty space by engaging with Microsoft to develop a community portal for the software leaders.

This CRM initiative has been conceptualized to make Microsoft’s operating systems more user friendly. The community platform is designed to make the users more responsive to the various Microsoft technologies and get more familiar with the features of Windows Vista and Windows Live.

NetCarrots is proud to be managing this community program which includes conceptualization of relationship management, rewards management and handling of strategic alliances and partnerships. NetCarrots will also be managing the entire backend for this community portal, including the technologies, creatives etc.

I’ve asked some local contacts at Microsoft to comment and will provide their response here if and when I receive it.

Update 2, 1-July-2008: Microsoft’s Chris Flores confirms that this site is indeed legit. It’s from Microsoft India and “is currently in beta and is still under construction.”

13 thoughts on “Is this Microsoft site legit?

  1. Honestly, looking at the site I wouldn’t trust it at first glance. The header image has a crummy, old-style Windows logo and has even be re-scaled and now looks pixelated and doesn’t match up with the background. It’s little attentions to detail that make me skeptical.

    There are other little things about it too. The navigation is funky, the Windows Logo in the flash movie wasn’t designed well and, although I suppose this is possible, if the site is meant for people in India (which I’m not sure it is) then why is it writtten in English? If it’s in India but made for the U.S. then why does it even exist? The whole site seems unnecessary…

    WindowsAndMe may be real, but I’m really starting to wonder about WindowsAndMore.

    😉

  2. Why schlep around in the humdrum “loyalty space” when you can dance like Fred & Ginger in the ever-so-more-fashionable “loyalty gamut”? ; )

    I suppose CRM is a big field for developers in India. I’m leery about advances one might claim to make in this arena. Especially when they are merely improved electronic RM systems.

    I totally understand why it’s written in the English for the developers. …of the software for the company of the planet.

  3. Cory seems rather ignorant about India. English is one of India’s official languages. There are probably as many English speakers there as in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Australia put together.

  4. On the contrary, I worked for a company that dealt with India quite a bit (a LOT of out sourcing), and I therefore worked with quite a few companies in India. Most of them had to be taught English before we could do business with each other, and very few already knew English… actually, very few knew English well even after learning :/

    I can assure you there aren’t nearly as many people that speak English in India as there are in Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and Scotland (being Scottish myself 😛 )

  5. Actually I am Indian and have lived in India my whole life, English is taught from 8th grade up (every year). Although the people have heavy accents, most can speak and understand English, especially those who go job hunting. The manner of English that is taught in India is European English and not American English which have their own differences. The reason that could be established for not knowing English is for forgetting it.

    Source 1:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lan_eng_spe-language-english-speakers

    Source 2:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population

    There you have it second to only the United States of America. Though it does matter where your company is based and what kind of positions are being filled.

  6. Sorry for getting off-topic Ed, but I do want to defend my comments 😉

    Vickas: the site you linked to shows more people speak English, but that’s not saying much considering there are over 1 billion people there. If you click on the “Per capita” link it tells quite a different story. In fact Canada, Australia, Ireland, all of Great Britain and many others are above India. It says that 9.26% of the population speaks English. I’d hardly call that an “English” speaking nation.

    Anyway that’s all beside the point. I was simply making an observation that an “English” site for a foreign nation seems unnecessary.

  7. Ed, I am a Microsoft MVP from India and our MVP lead shared this site with us sometime back though under embargo.

    It’s done by Microsoft India and is now open for public.

  8. Thanks, Amit. If it’s intended to be regional site for customers of Microsoft India, the designers need to go back and do a bit more work.

  9. I dont think its real, whats the give away you ask? They are using Flash instead of SilverLight.

    Case closed.

  10. The site is not hosted by microsoft.
    take a look at the name servers.
    NOT microsoft official.

  11. whois information from Network Solutions:
    The windowsandme.com domain was registered by GoDaddy.com to:
    NetCarrots.com Pvt. Ltd.
    E-19, 1st floor, Hauz Khas
    New Delhi, 110016
    India

    The domain expires on December 21st, 2008.

    According to the netcarrots.com website they are a marketing and customer relationship management firm which does business in the Dubai, India, UK and USA. I imagine Netcarrots is doing a little marketing in India for Microsoft. Go to netcarrots.com and click on a link in the menu or at the bottom of the page… you will get a page of javascript code!! I guess netcarrot is working so hard for Microsoft they are neglecting their own website 😮

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