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Microsoft apologizes for 'vile' Amy Winehouse tweet

Microsoft's U.K. PR team sends out a tweet suggesting people should download the dead singer's "Back to Black" on Zune. Cynical or merely business?

Amy Winehouse is dead.

That means everyone who has music of hers to sell will try to do everything to sell that music.

However, so often in this world, how you sell something really does matter. So when the person behind Microsoft's U.K. PR Twitter account, Tweetbox360, decided to send out a tweet Sunday, only potential purchasers could decide whether it was in perfect taste.

The tweet read: "Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking 'Back to Black' over at"

Yes, it was hard to get it all into 140 characters. But the intention seemed clear: Amy Winehouse is dead. You can get her music here.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Yet some people seemed to find this tweet highly offensive. Cynical, even. A tweeter called Simon Riley offered: "Crass much?" Shaney Hudson suggested: "Vile leeches- seriously?" And Stuart Houghton tweeted: "Stay classy Microsoft PR jackals."

Other tweeters, though, thought this was overreaction. David Smyth, for example, declared: "It's what she would have wanted."

I have no reason to believe that Winehouse was a Zune aficionado. However, it's clear that Microsoft reads its Twitter feed, for it soon replied: "Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse 'download' tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you."

Many might suggest that, oh yes, it was purely commercially motivated and that nobody should be surprised. It's not as if Microsoft is alone in bringing Winehouse's music to people's attention after her death. Apple also put a picture of Winehouse on the iTunes front door with the words "Remembering Amy Winehouse".

However, Microsoft seems to have compounded its confused demeanor by sending out another tweet that read: "With Amy W's passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy's family and friends at this very sad time."

The original tweet, though, is still on the Tweetbox360 Twitter feed at the time of writing. Which means that perhaps not all Tweetbox360's thoughts are with Winehouse's family and friends. It also means that tweeters still have the opportunity to give their opinions on Microsoft U.K.'s writing skills.

Microsoft's apologies don't seem to have done much good. As tweeter Bec Vaughan says in response to Microsoft's apology: "Why don't you let people download for free then?"

Oh, but wouldn't that feel like taking advantage?