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Microsoft gives away 'free time' to promote Windows Phone

Company sets up "free-time machines" with perks such as free meals, grocery delivery, and access to a personal shopper -- all in a bid to generate buzz for the Lumia 900.

Microsoft is pushing the Lumia 900 hard with its "Free Time Machine" campaign. Reps were in Madison Square Park in New York offering free meals, personal shoppers, and other services to save people time.
Brian Bennett/CNET

Microsoft wants consumers to really get its pitch that Windows Phones are more efficient than rival smartphones and can thus create more free time for consumers.

To drum up attention for the recently launched Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II, Microsoft has set up "free-time machines" in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. They are essentially offering freebies for meals, personal shoppers, grocery delivery, cleaning, and dog walkers. Personal concierges are also on-hand to handle tasks like waiting in line for a burger.

The promotion is part of the core Microsoft strategy centered on the Windows Phones as easy-to-use and efficient devices for personal tasks.

Microsoft, AT&T, and Nokia in particular are pushing hard to get Windows Phone into the minds -- and pockets -- of consumers. AT&T promised the biggest launch for the Lumia 900, although many stores were actually closed for Easter when it launched yesterday, The New York Times noted. Nokia blanketed Times Square on Friday with huge ads and sponsored a Nicki Minaj concert to promote its latest flagship phone.

Now Microsoft is getting in on the mix. The software badly needs the Lumia 900 to succeed, with its other smartphones having made little headway in the U.S., a crucial market.

For consumers not in NY, SF, or Chicago, Microsoft has set up a Web site offering similar promotions.