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Microsoft: Facebook Home? Wait, that's Windows Phone

Redmond seems somewhat aghast that Mark Zuckerberg's great, new app-less tool bears some sort of resemblance to the Windows Phone launch of 2011.

3 min read
A Windows to your Facebook world?

You may have been one of those who felt enthralled and delighted at Mark Zuckerberg's launch of Facebook Home yesterday.

You also may have felt appalled and slighted. Especially if you worked at Microsoft in 2011.

The morning after the morning before, Microsoft's forthright head of PR, Frank X. Shaw, offered words to suggest he'd have liked to X-out most of Zuckerberg's wide-eyed unveiling.

On the company's own blog, he wrote: "I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times. Not to see if it was still April Fools' Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011."

You see, all that "putting people first" stuff that Zuckerberg so charmingly oozed yesterday seemed to resemble the exact strategy of Windows Phone.

Yes, of course, Microsoft had already thought about starting with people on your home screen, rather than chilly -- or even cuddly -- icons.

The company's fine engineers had even thought that it would be a spiritual experience if you could tap your own face to check into your mobile world.

Personally, I have to tap my own face just to check that I'm still alive most mornings, but the idea of doing it on one's phone was, indeed, so very 2011.

Shaw took a moment to take his hands away from his keyboard and noisily put them together.

He wrote: "While we applaud Facebook for working to give some Android owners a taste of what a 'people-centric' phone can be like, we'd humbly like to suggest that you get the real thing, and simply upgrade to a Windows Phone."

Those of a terpsichorean -- or even simply Korean -- bent will wonder where the genesis of such rhythmic humility might lie.

Every time I see my engineer friend George with his very fetching Nokia Lumia 920, I see how personal it is and how much he likes it. But it took a long time for this phone to arrive. There were so many temptations along the way -- some from Korea.

George wanted to be different. Yet now he is frustrated because he cannot get the apps he needs -- specifically Instagram -- on his very personal phone. Yes, it's gotten to the point where even Nokia is personally frustrated about it.

Zuckerberg is not a great innovator. Every day he smiles a little, relieved that there seems to be relatively little competition yet for the fruits of his bloated behemoth. It helps when you believe everyone's data is actually your own.

His site has one essential goal -- not to be people-centric, as much as advertising revenue-centric. And he thinks he can get there by appealing to his core obsessives and, he hopes, teens, tweens, and prom queens.

Microsoft would like you to believe -- and with some justification -- that Android is "complicated enough without adding another skin built around another metaphor, on top of what is already a custom variant of the OS."

But there must be days when those at the heart of Redmond must look in the mirror and want to alter their status from "too complicated."