Microsoft Illegally Vandalizes Mission

It's bad enough it's in your computer at work, in your Xbox at home, and in your parents' phone. Now Microsoft is attempting to make itself a permanent fixture on the sidewalks of the Mission.

The giant software company -- or at least, an advertiser representing it -- has been spraying advertisements in front of peoples' homes and businesses for its new "Windows 7" phone. The ads don't come up with water. They've been doing the same thing in New York, using the graffiti to advertise Windows-branded concerts by Katy Perry and Maroon 5.

The vandalism includes a URL where people can get free tickets to the concerts if they click "Like" on Microsoft's Facebook page -- in essence, putting themselves on Microsoft's mailing list.

It may be attention-getting, but it's also illegal. The Department of Public Works is quite firm on that point: if if doesn't quickly, easily, and completely wash away, it's against the law.

The city said that it would ask the company to remove the ads, and then bill them for any cleanup costs.

Microsoft has run afoul of graffitti laws in the past. In 2002, New York went after the company for gluing ads to city infrastructure. Similarly, San Francisco attacked Zynga for throwing ads resembling fake dollar bills all over the city.

There's a hint of irony to Microsoft's use of sidewalk ads. You're most likely to see the ad if you're looking down at your phone, but the company's new ad campaign has made fun of people who look at their phones. Yes, really.

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