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Microsoft

How 8 Pixels Cost Microsoft Millions 734

NubKnacker writes "Economic Times, one of India's biggest business daily's is carrying a story about how a small colouring mistake forced Microsoft to recall 200,000 copies of Windows 95. This wouldn't be the first time that has happened to Microsoft. From the article, "Microsoft has also managed to upset women and entire countries. A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation." Ouch!"
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How 8 Pixels Cost Microsoft Millions

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  • by Lostie ( 772712 ) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:44PM (#10047000)
    This isn't the first time a huge company has made an embarassing translation error. There is that old classic when Ford introduced the Pinto in Brazil. After watching sales go nowhere, the company learned that "Pinto" is Brazilian slang for "small penis." Ford pried the nameplates off all of the cars and substituted them with "Corcel" which means horse.
  • Dupe (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:44PM (#10047007)
    This is a dupe [slashdot.org]. Too bad the editors don't bother checking the dupe email box.
    • Re:Dupe (Score:3, Funny)

      by Roofus ( 15591 )
      Even better, this is a dupe of a dupe. The second dupe was pulled not long after it was posted. As for the Slashdot editors, they're all dupes of a dope! [slashdot.org]
      • So I guess this is actually from the debug-twice-distribute-once-post-thrice dept?
  • Dupe... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmayle ( 200765 ) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:44PM (#10047008) Homepage Journal

    Come one, come all, for the greatest dupe [slashdot.org] on earth... It's not the exact same article, but it's the exact same source materiel...

    If I was low on Karma, I'm sure I could Karma Whore and just copy high scoring posts from the previous article...

  • by AcquaCow ( 56720 ) * <acquacow@@@hotmail...com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:45PM (#10047026) Homepage
    http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1104_2-5316664.html

    Looks like everyone else is a week behind the times...

    -- Dave
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Old News for Nerds. Stuff that use to matter...
  • coincidence (Score:5, Funny)

    by warrped ( 202864 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:47PM (#10047049)
    "Some of our employees, however bright they may be, have only a hazy idea about the rest of the world," he said." ... and this is different from the rest of America how exactly?
    • by Kainaw ( 676073 )
      "Some of our employees, however bright they may be, have only a hazy idea about the rest of the world," he said." ... and this is different from the rest of America how exactly?

      Maybe he is claiming that all the non-M$ employees, however dim they may be, have only a hazy idea that there is a rest of the world.
    • Re:coincidence (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cereal Box ( 4286 )
      ... And I'm sure you enlightened Canadians/Europeans/Your_Nationality are, by virtue of not being American, intimately familiar with the do's and dont's of every culture on the planet.

      Get real. It's not like they goofed up on things that an average child would know. They were details that most people -- including yourself -- are probably not aware of. Do you know the subtle difference between "hembra" and "mujer"? Do you know that including a certain disputed region of India on a map is illegal accordi
      • Re:coincidence (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dustmite ( 667870 )

        It's ultimately a management problem. I wouldn't expect the average programmer anywhere in the world (other than e.g. India) to know these things, but "head of geopolitical strategy" of the world's largest software company better damn know these "details". It's his job to know these things and make sure the programmers know what to do and what not to do, and frankly, for someone in that position, these are not "basic" mistakes, they're huge, stupid mistakes. I mean, you'd think if you're selling millions of

        • there is no right way to draw that particular line.

          That is 'disputed territory'. Pakistan and India both claim it. If they had colored that space in to be part of India, this same article would have appeared, almost verbatim, in www.paknews.com/. So, maybe you have to choose...literally not being able to please both, who do you piss off?

          or, you could piss off both, and use a 3rd color for that area.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:47PM (#10047050)
    The first 10 or so comments aren't quite clear to me.
  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:49PM (#10047072) Journal
    "...destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation."

    I only speak english... could someone explain the problem with that translation?
    • I think it has something to do with the fact that latin males like to be called "el stud".
    • by LGagnon ( 762015 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:59PM (#10047210)
      I can't speak Spanish, but I have been told by a person from Brazil that one of the words for "girl" in European Portuguese becomes "bitch" in Brazilian Portuguese. It is most likely that this is the same situation: a matter of the word's usage changing in other regions that speak that language.
      • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrunNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:16PM (#10047437) Journal

        And the typical Australian is still amused that somebody would actually name their daughter 'Sheila.'

      • Not quite (Score:5, Funny)

        by Rui del-Negro ( 531098 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:31PM (#10047650) Homepage
        Nope, "bitch" in Portuguese is "cadela" (brazilians tend to use "cachorra", but in both cases it means bitch, never girl or woman). The issue is a slightly different one. In Portugal, we use several words for "girl": "menina", "moça", "rapariga", "miúda", etc.

        One of the most common ones is "rapariga" (feminin of "rapaz", which means "lad"). In Brazil, "rapariga" is usually used to describe a prostitute (although technically it means the same - a young woman).

        A more interesting word is "puto". In standard Portuguese, it means "kid" (boy). In brazilian Portuguese it means "male prostitute". So, as you can imagine, when a portuguese writer (Altino Tojal) published a book called "Os putos" ("The kids"), in the 1970s, the brazilians thought Portugal (then a religious dictatorship!) was a really open society... ;-)

        The feminin ("puta") does mean the same in both dialects. ;-)

        Another interesting word is "Durex". In Brazil, it means sticky tape. In Portugal everyone knows it as a condom brand (although Control is more popular, and if you've used both, you know why). A couple of years ago, a (female) brazilian friend of mine came to Portugal, and needed some tape. She went to an office supply store and asked for "some Durex". The woman behind the counter looked at her as if she was some sort of nut and told her "well, if you want Durex, go to the chemist's!". She found this rather odd, but did as she was told. She walked into a pharmacy and asked for Durex. The chemist said "what type?", and she said "well, any type will do, I really need it quickly". The chamist said "well, what amount do you want?". Se held her hands about 70 cm apart and said "well, a piece about this big".

        True story.

        RMN
        ~~~

    • In the Spanish version, they used "hembra" instead of "mujer". There is a more descriptive article [guardian.co.uk].
      • by SoTuA ( 683507 )
        Well, while "hembra" is not "delicate", I wouldn't go as far as saying it is "bitch", unless context clearly indicates so.

        The problem arises from the fact that there are different words for the english aceptions of "male/female". You use "Masculino/Femenino" for gender, and "Macho/Hembra" for animals, or cable plugs.

    • by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:02PM (#10047252) Homepage
      You do know that they do not speak LATIN in Latin America, right?
    • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#10047314)
      Well you see, the term "not specified" in Spanish means they're gay. And they don't like that.
    • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#10047513) Homepage Journal

      My friend Zaulo was here this weekend helping me re-arrange my office, and we were discussing this exact story (thankfully this is a dupe, so I've had a chance to get some Local Color betweent the first and second postings!)

      File this under "the Spanish-speaking world is big. Really Big.". In Locale esMX macho and hembra are commonly used for animals, meaning male and female respectively.

      When applied to humans, they take on the connotation of "super manly" (a usage that is common in US English) and "extremely feminine and beautiful" ... (a usage that seems not to have found its way to the US).

      In some Latin American coutnries, the usage ranges from decidedly negative to merely curious.

      There was a similar story that made the headlines for a while, that some beer company had a series of commercials where all of the characters were referring to each other as "güey" (pronounced "way", like "do you know the way to san jose?") , which in esMX is the closest translation possible to "dude." In some other locales it is much more rude.

      The word is, in fact, a variant on the word buey (Ox) which is a very crude insult, likely leading to physical assault.

  • by ormoru ( 121922 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:49PM (#10047074)
    After duplicating a post 8 times, Slashdot found that the majority of readers flamed the story before setting fire to their servers in protest.

    And now for a naked dwarf chasing a chihuahua...
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:49PM (#10047076)
    how a small colouring mistake forced Microsoft to recall 200,000 copies of Windows 95.

    I seem to recall getting a lot of blue from Win95, and yet nobody at Microsoft returned by calls when I told them I wanted a refund for their faulty OS...
  • No game (Score:5, Funny)

    by StevenHenderson ( 806391 ) <stevehenderson&gmail,com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:49PM (#10047078)
    A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch"

    Pretty bad when even the Slashdot crew knows thats not too smooth... :)
  • whatever... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:49PM (#10047080)
    please keep in mind the 'bitch' problem is from people in central america using the SPANISH (IE, DESTINED FOR SPAIN) version of the OS...

    its not microsofts fault that people in central america, use an OS destined for ANOTHER COUNTRY, and their words overlap into profanity.

    anything to bash MS, eh slashdot?
  • A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation.

    This would only seem to be detrimental to MS, therfore beneficial to competing products (Linux, Mac, etc.).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:51PM (#10047102)
    Same source, same headline, different day.

    It's Groundhog Day!
  • Who is Daddypants? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3@ p h r o g g y.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:53PM (#10047125) Homepage
    Daddypants is the e-mail address subscribers are supposed to send e-mail to if we notice a duplicate (or otherwise problematic) article is about to be posted. If the editors aren't going to bother to read Slashdot to see what has already been posted recently, why won't they at least check this e-mail account to see if anyone actually reports problems?
  • 8^2 pixels (Score:4, Informative)

    by kg_o.O ( 802342 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:53PM (#10047134)
    8 pixels is nothing to be mad about. Microsoft has flooded Poland in win2k/xp. Just check the map in time zone setting. They didn't get banned here though. Seems they predicted how global warming affects Europe in the future.
  • This is not only a duplicate, it's a poorly written rip-off of the other article. While the other article (in the Register, I believe), was obviously anti-Microsoft, this tabloidish piece doesn't even fully explain the stories.
  • It's a tradeoff... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rarose ( 36450 ) <.moc.ymabor. .ta. .bor.> on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:54PM (#10047141)
    between flashy products and grim utalitarian products.

    OS/2 2.0 caught a lot of crap from people because the icons and graphics were basic, simple with muted colors. What people didn't know was that those icons had been vetted through legal review, special-needs review (i.e. all the various forms of color blindness), internationalization (like pointing with the index finger is OK here, but bad in europe, etc).

    By the time you get through all those reviews, most of "chimp attract" is gone.... so where along the continuium do you want your product to be?
  • by Secret Chimp ( 557933 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:55PM (#10047147)
    Qué género es usted? El Man, La Woman, o Los Unspecifieds?
  • How could they possibly make such a simlpe mislake?
  • Its India, for having weird anti-free-speech laws that ban inadvertent mistakes or differing opinions. What kind of crap is that? In the US and probably most other free western countries I could publish software that says India is part of China and that the US owns Kashmir. Just nobody would use it. on the other hand, in the US, most folks wouldn't know the difference. and yes its a dupe.
  • This wouldn't be the first time that has happened to Microsoft
    No kidding, I mean, I seem to remember the same thing happening just a few days ago: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/19/142 203&tid=109 [slashdot.org]

    So yeah... dupe!
  • irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by bis ( 4748 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:57PM (#10047186)
    I especially love the subtitle of this story: "from the debug-twice-distribute-once dept."

    Perhaps it should have been from Slashdot's "post-twice-spellcheck-zero-times dept."
  • Oh come on. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TwistedSpring ( 594284 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#10047503) Homepage
    So now Microsoft is taking the fall for America's lacklustre level of cultural awareness. Companies do this all the time, and I'm only surprised that Microsoft havent done this a lot more, when you think of the amount of products and services it provides across the globe.

    I like the way the article neglets to inform us which part of Windows 95 was to blame, or which game(s) were causing offence. Perhaps things would suddenly become understandable and cause the article to lose some of it's bashing impact had these details been presented.

    The only map I can think of in '95 was the for setting the timezone, and as I remember all of that map was the same shade of green. It does sound a bit bitchy to make kashmir a special exception, so I'd like to know what part of Win95 this map was actually in, and whether other parts of the world had special shades of green too.
    • Re:Oh come on. (Score:3, Informative)

      by rufusdufus ( 450462 )
      The map was indeed the timezone map. The all green undifferentiated map is the 'fixed' version. The original had boundary lines; when they removed them for kashmir, they removed all boundaries for all versions of windows.
  • Beware of the source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gzip Christ ( 683175 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:30PM (#10047637) Homepage
    Beware of the source. I came across another article from their site earlier this morning and I'm perplexed as to how they can be considered a credible news source. Check out their article on programmers outsourcing their own jobs [indiatimes.com] if you need a good laugh. They took a comment that was posted on Slashdot awhile back from some guy who was joking about how he had outsourced his own job to India and not only did they treat this guy's post as a reliable news source, but they also extrapolated it into claims of this practice being the hot new trend. It's quite bizarre. I wish I could find the original comment because I remember reading it and laughing at the time, but Google isn't turning it up for some reason.
  • dupe (Score:5, Funny)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:31PM (#10047656) Journal
    Can we have a forumcode that says "just go back and read my comments from the last 2 times this story was posted"?

    Or, for slashdot editors:
    Can we have a forumcode that says "just go back and read my comments from the last 2 times this story was posted"?

    Can we have a forumcode that says "just go back and read my comments from the last 2 times this story was posted"?

    Can we have a forumcode that says "just go back and read my comments from the last 2 times this story was posted"?

    Can we have a forumcode that says "just go back and read my comments from the last 2 times this story was posted"?
  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:36PM (#10047716) Homepage Journal
    The "bitch" translation error was due to the fact that the same word means "woman" in some regional dialects and "bitch" in others. This is clearly a forgiveable mistake.

    I mean, what kind of culture actually uses the terms "woman" and "bitch" interchangeably?

    Oh, wait...
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:45PM (#10047832) Journal
    Male or female, if you're using Windows, you've already been made the bitch.

  • by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:52PM (#10047917)
    I wish to call on the slashdot people to change the icon for microsoft. I find that portraying one of it's founders and current top executives as a Borg insulting to the maturity of people here. Simply use the actual microsoft logo or something that just says "microsoft" if there are legal problems with their trademark.

    I'm not trying to make this a serious conservative website about tech news and opinions, but a lot of us are open source advocates and the community is represented somewhat on this website. This site has a responsibility to the OSS community and while this Borg icon may have seemed funny years ago, I think the joke is on us now.

    And while people may say how microsoft bashes linux and opensource openly, that doesn't mean we should in turn bash them with an icon. All this anti-microsoft does is give credibility to their argument that open source projects are managed and supported by a bunch of geeks in their basements, and not hardworking, intelligent companies.
  • Or... (Score:4, Funny)

    by pimpinmonk ( 238443 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @02:03PM (#10048029) Homepage
    How 8 Slashdot Editors Don't Read Slashdot
  • by CharAznable ( 702598 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @02:14PM (#10048133)
    In Central American Spanish "male and female" can be translated to "macho y hembra" or "masculino y femenino". "Macho y hembra" refer mostly to animals, while "masculino y femenino" are used with humans, and are considered correct when used in, say, a fill out form. "Hembra", while not strictly a profanity sounds very rude when used on women.
  • by Java Ape ( 528857 ) <(ten.063) (ta) (sggirb.ekim)> on Monday August 23, 2004 @02:24PM (#10048258) Homepage
    I hate to spoil the fun taking pot-shots at Microsoft, but the Spanish language error is hardly their fault. I speak fluent Spanish, and lived in South America for several years. Each time I moved to a different region (even within the same country!) the language would undergo substancial change. Most importantly, the words most likely to change were those with sexual connotation or profane impliction.

    For example, cojer means "to pick up", but in mexico it means "to have sexual relations with". You can swing by to cojer your friends in most countries, but your Mexican buddies will probably object. (Acutally, I don't don't know if this is true for Northern Mexico, not having been there). There are literally thousands of similar examples -- be very careful asking shop keepers if they have eggs!

    Since the language is extremely variable over even short geographic distances, it would be VERY difficult to provide Spanish-Language versions of your software that didn't offend someone.

    For the record, I believe the word in question here is "hembra" - which means "female" most places, but can be derogatory in others.

  • by jamiefaye ( 44093 ) <jamie@[ ]tonia.com ['fen' in gap]> on Monday August 23, 2004 @03:19PM (#10049113) Homepage
    Long, long time ago I had to add French, German, & Spanish translations to an arcade game Midway produced called 280-Zzzap. (It was a "night-driving" game).

    The program would rate the player's driving skills on a 1 to 5 scale. In French, the worst performance phrase was "reprendre la école", which means "go back to school". Since the game font did not have a circumflex in it, I put the phrase in as "reprendre la ecole".

    The rough translation of this in French is "you're a cunt!".

    We had to rev the ROMs and make sure we shipped the bad ones only to the US, England, Germany, and Spain!
  • Uruguay? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday August 23, 2004 @03:27PM (#10049265) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Microsoft has also seen its unfortunate style of diplomacy have an effect in Korea, Kurdistan, Uruguay and to China--where a cartographical dispute saw Chinese employees hauled in front of the government.

    What does my country in south america to make a diplomatic between korea, kurdistand and china, that in a way or another are somewhat close?

    Seems to be closer the "WWIII: Microsoft style". A good example where with great power one don't give a shit about the great responsibility.

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