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Microsoft bans April Fools' Day pranks

BusinessToday.In     March 29, 2019

Elaborately planned pranks on April Fools' Day have typically been de rigueur for tech companies. For instance, last year we saw Google pranking customers with the Bad Joke Detector for its Files Go app and Uber Eats offering the world's first anti-ageing ice cream while at home telecom operator Reliance Jio shared a video of Jio Juice- a new SIM card that would allow users to charge their phones wirelessly without carrying chargers and heavy power banks.

But not everyone loves such corporate pranks and some have been known to backfire spectacularly, as in the case of Google's 2016 Minions-themed prank. So, Microsoft has taken the lead in banning Aprils Fools' Day hoaxes and pranks this year. The Silicon Valley giant's marketing chief Chris Capossela, in an internal memo, asked all employees not to do any public-facing April Fools' Day stunts come Monday, The Verge reported.

"Sometimes the outcomes are amusing and sometimes they're not. Either way, data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles", read the memo. "I appreciate that people may have devoted time and resources to these activities, but I believe we have more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day". Past pranks by the company include an MS-DOS mobile for Windows Phone and Google insults.

The report added that Microsoft's stand comes just as the company temporarily resurrected its Clippy Office assistant. Microsoft workers had transformed the paperclip into an animated pack of stickers for the company's Teams chat software, but a source told the tech news portal that the "brand police" inside the company shut it down a mere day later.

Capossela's memo also reminded employees that corporate pranks are not always funny. Google's prank three years ago is a case in point. On April 1, 2016, the company silently replaced Gmail's 'send and archive' option with a 'send and mic drop' option. The prank added a Despicable Me minion GIF to emails- minions dropping a microphone- and then muted the thread, but Google was soon forced to admit that they had ended up pranking themselves.

"Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We're truly sorry. The feature has been turned off", it said in its official blog after plenty of users complained of the feature impacting important correspondence.

(Edited by: Sushmita Choudhury)

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