Written by IainB

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

image for Microsoft Icon Scandal
The face that sparked the controversy

Microsoft has got itself embroiled in a bitter scandal over the icon for its media player.

Icons are the small pictures used to indicate an action that can be performed and are prevalent across all aspects of computing; from the web to desktop applications. On media player, one of the actions that can be performed is the Send to MP3 Player, and it is the icon used for this action that has caused the controversy.

The icon clearly shows a man with an MP3 player, which has angered feminist groups across America, who claim that Microsoft are trying to indicate that women are incapable of loading an MP3 player with music.

"This blatantly shows Microsoft for the misogynistic organisation that they are," said Sue Formillion, spokeswoman for Equality. "And we demand that they change it to an androgynous image."

Microsoft, which has always been applauded for its equal opportunities employment policy, has retorted back that the icon was designed by a woman, but this has not placated Equality.

"The icon designer was obviously given a design remit, and as all companies only promote men into positions of power, that remit will have come from a man. We've no doubt that the icon designer is under the heel of a despot!"

It is looking like Equality will get their way, as Microsoft are preparing to release a patch replacing the icon with one depicting only the music device, and removing the person completely.

This isn't the first time an icon has caused controversy. Two years ago, Initek, a world leading supplier of medical recording software used a picture of angel wings for their Death Recording module, which almost sparked a religious war, with users claiming it showed a religious bias. They too backed down in the face of overwhelming public hatred, and replaced it with a black square.

Gryff Hartest, editor of Icon Designer magazine thinks that people are too sensitive: "Icon design is a tricky business already. Drawing an image that represents an abstract concept in a grid of sixteen by sixteen different coloured squares is difficult task already, without nutters complaining that it offends them."

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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