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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 27, 2008 at 2:14 PM

NYTimes’ David Pogue frenchifies Microsoft blogger

Pogue channeled Robert Scoble and wrote a piece today about how companies should use blogs and Web 2.0 tools to open up to customers and the world.

Pogue was referring to a blog discussion that began with a September 2006 post by Microsoft’s Windows user interface group that resonated with a lot of people, and I think about it every time I see the games that come bundled with Windows. It explained how the company set out to refresh Windows’ classic “Minesweeper” game for Vista and ended up stuck in a minefield of geopolitical sensitivities.

The author, researcher David Vronay, said the initial solution was to give users the option of finding flowers instead of mines.

In Pogue’s telling, he focused on a jocular follow-up post in October where the flowers are mimes, humanizing the faceless corporate facade of Microsoft.

I was off-base in my first version of this post, which I wrote before I heard back from Vronay. He e-mailed me a few minutes ago and said he still chuckles about the mime entry himself: “Almost as much from the comments of people thinking it was serious than anything else.”

It keeps going. There’s a real product called Mimesweeper. It’s an e-mail security system sold by Clearswift, a British company with an office in Bellevue. I’ll bet they’ve heard a few Marcel Marceau jokes.

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