back to article Microsoft apologizes for digital head transplant

Microsoft has apologized for digitally removing the head of a black man from a website photo and replacing it with the head of a white man. Yesterday, countless bloggers and other netizens noticed that Microsoft's Polish site had reproduced a photo from the company's main English language site - with one obvious change. The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    All the bases covered

    The black man is old which means the woman must be handicapped and the asian gay. The original pretty much covered everything then.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Is he the new Michael Jackson?


  3. mlo0352



  4. Utrecht
    Jobs Halo


    Congrats. I think you were the first to notice the MacBook. Amazing the Polish didn't Photoshop in an HP somethingorother.

  5. M. B.

    Also unusual is...

    ...the fact that the Dell monitor isn't plugged in to anything.

  6. Chris McFaul


    interesting everyone automatically assumes its about race - and yet they left the asian guy in?

    maybe its because the black guy had grey hair and was the oldest in the pic, maybe they wanted it to reflect a younger more "dynamic" image ?

  7. Martin Lyne


    Becuase there isn't enough variety in feckless managerial idiots smiling as their salaries increase for holding meetings about meetings imagery laying about on stock photo sites. No. Let's instead photoshop one. Badly.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Somewhere in Microsoft...

    ...heads are rolling.

  9. Steven Hunter

    Also worth noting

    The LCD on the table has no cables connecting it to a computer, let alone power. Way to market, Microsoft.

  10. Jason Togneri

    @ M. B. / unplugged monitor

    Don't you see, that's why they need to "empower their people with the IT tools they need". The unempowered never learn to RTFM, try turning it off and on again, or see if it's plugged in.

  11. Paul RND*1000

    Stock photo

    Generic "smiling people in suits with computers and plenty of racial/sexual diversity" photo from iStock* - $5

    Copy of Photoshop - $700

    Bad head-transplant job performed by the office intern - $7.50/hour * 5 minutes = 62 and a half cents.

    Extracting a public apology from Microsoft - PRICELESS!

    * NOTE:

    "The company has not addressed the laptop in the middle of the photo. It appears to be an Apple MacBook. But like the black man's head, the Apple logo seems to have gone missing."

    Stock photos can't have visible trademarks unless they're for strictly editorial use, so the photog who created the original would have had to edit out the Apple logo.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    ...and being replaced.

    Somewhere in Microsoft...

    heads are rolling...

    and being digitally replaced with different heads

    Anyway, I don't think it's a racial thing in particular. But it is very silly nevertheless. The monitor not plugged into anything and Macbook are of course even more silly (per M.B. and Cade Metz@El Reg.)

  13. multipharious

    Lack of cultural sensitivity

    It is stunning that in an attempt to be culturally sensitive by using images of diversity that they can so utterly miss the very same goal of being representative in homogenous countries when sending it out to all the subsidiaries. It mocks itself.

    Hate to say it because as an ex-pat I am just slamming my countrymen, but get a freaking clue and perhaps a document management system of some sort so the images can be swapped out easily. Whole world out there that doesn't speak a foreign language since to them English is a foreign language. They do not use MM/DD/YYYY. They have their own currency.

  14. Mat Child

    Not the 1st time

    I remeber when Ford got caught doing the same thing in the late 80's early nineties.

    Their excuse was the poster of a sample of UK workers was amended to more accurately reflect the ethnic balance of the east european country they were re-using it in.

  15. Frumious Bandersnatch

    light and shadow

    One other thing that seems to be wrong is the lighting. The new head appears to be predominantly lit from the left side. Everything else is being lit from the right. A bit glaring, that, if you'll pardon the expression.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black man, white woman

    Wow.... Google has thrown up some interesting ads alongside this story.

  17. Aaron Gilliland

    Isn't it obvious?

    Poland is in The Matrix. One of the Agents is taking over the body of the black gentleman, but he's only 25% complete.

    Or 24%, since he isn't wearing sunglasses.

  18. E_Nigma

    The Very Concept of Photo Forgery Is Epic Failure

    And when it's done this badly...

    I don't think that the actual intention was to kick out the black guy, but rather to introduce a white one. Assuming that there are more men then women in IT in Poland (which is a pretty safe bet anywhere in the world) and considering that Poland has neither native nor immigrated black or Asian population of any significant number, you'd be hard pressed to find an IT office without a single white male in that country. I assume that that made someone believe that this skewed demographics would make it less likely for an average Polish IT worker to relate oneself to the people in the picture, and then he realized what's just the right thing to do. One awful Photoshop job later and every IT portal in the world is talking about them, bravo! Of course, this could have been done without decapitating the poor black guy by simply snapping a photo of a few local people and thus get some local mugs on the local site (probably) without all this fuss, but where's the fun in that?!

  19. Jedi Name Germinator

    Cool story bro.

    Don't you just hate that?

    It's the new "FAIL".

    Or is it - "+1"?

  20. supersat

    New version

    Microsoft's Photoshop skills have apparently inspired some people to post their own variations, such as

  21. Craig 2
    Thumb Up

    The real issue...

    You have all missed the real point here...

    Microsoft are not being racist themselves, they are accusing the whole Polish population of being racist in that they would not buy products advertised by black people!

    Class action by a whole country coming up....

  22. Kevin 6

    not a bad job

    seeing they probably only had MS Paint to work with ;)

    ok I lied I pulled off better alterations with MS paint long before I used paintshop or adobe ;)

  23. BadmashJavawallah
    Paris Hilton

    Regardless of the skin colour...

    ...the extraordinary smiles are the same.

    (Maybe Paris knows why.)

  24. Andrew Stevenson

    Off with his head

    An Apple computer in the picture... off with his head.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    So the Microsoft marketing department believes Poles will respond negatively to people of negroid ancestry? Apparently Microsoft = Silly.

  26. Ke

    Target Market

    Why is this racist?

    Chances are that in the target market (Poland) IT professionals are predominate white males or females - given that the percentage of darker skinned people living in Poland is extremely low ( ) this is highly likely the case.

    Good advertising should connect with the target market and typically this involves using local actors. MS's approach may be cheap or efficient depending on you view - but it is not necessarily racist.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Some have said that in pairing a white man's head with a black man's hands, Microsoft is displaying a commitment to racial harmony."

    Microsoft probably doesn't have the same level of fanaticism from its fanboys as, say, Apple whose fanboys would defend the most disturbing things, but in any case, such people are mere apologists for racism.

    Is it Microsoft's fault, Microsoft's Polish business unit's fault, Polish society's fault? Perversely, Microsoft HQ is least likely to be at fault (this time, unlike on most other occasions) by merely being guilty of not supervising its underlings properly. Sadly, in their near monopolistic position, Microsoft Poland can (if we are charitable) be fairly accused of pandering to racist attitudes perceived in Polish society, instead of challenging such attitudes.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    It might be a Macbook

    I know this might be hard to believe but it could actually be running Windoze.

    Some crazy people even install Linux. I don't know why.

  29. Big-nosed Pengie

    Considering their software...

    ...why should we expect them to be competent in any other area?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Worst spin of the week.

    "pairing a white man's head with a black man's hands, Microsoft is displaying a commitment to racial harmony"

    Give me a fuckin break!

  31. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Palisade Defense commercial anyone.

    Not very PC.

    Mine's the one iwtht he copy of "Severance" in the pocket.

  32. Steve Taylor 3

    Too meta

    >> "pairing a white man's head with a black man's hands, Microsoft is displaying a commitment to racial harmony"

    > Give me a fuckin break!

    So did AC miss the joke, or did I miss AC's meta joke? it's all too hard...

  33. lukewarmdog


    After the IE7 n/e/ne1/lolwtbbq debacle this is clearly a metaphor to frighten the Easter European censors.

    You cut off one head, another grows back.

    Even Adolf couldn't pull off that trick.

  34. Anonymous Coward


    the "new guy" has a shadow of his former head on the same side as his face is lighted.

  35. Paul Glavin

    Extra legs

    Is it just me or are there a few extra legs under the table?

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @AC chumps

    "Some have said that in pairing a white man's head with a black man's hands, Microsoft is displaying a commitment to racial harmony."

    On planet earth, we like to characterise comments like this as 'tongue in cheek' or perhaps 'taking the piss'. Such mocking is characteristic of a characteristic of human nature generally known as 'humour'.

    How you twerps with your bleating about fanbois and apologists managed to get past the moderatrix I don't know. You should be given a spanking and forced to spend a week posing for stock photos.

  37. Rod MacLean


    ...and it's a better job than the MS photshop effort - at least the lighting is from the correct side!

    MS had a 50% chance of getting the lighting angle right but seemingly a 0% chance of anyone spotting:

    a) That an altered picture was being used

    b) That the lighting was from the wrong angle

    c) That their marketing department are idiots.

  38. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @AC chumps

    I wasn't here, but I am now. So.

  39. JohnG


    Why do people do this? The people that decide to do this must be really stupid. It is in the nature of adverts that many people will see them and, sooner or later, some people will see both adverts and spot the difference. All they have to do is just use a different picture with their chosen mix of ethnic/gender/age groups.

  40. Ben Klumaster

    Both just as bad?

    When I opened up the article I could only see the original image, and my first thought was "that guy in the middle's obviously been pasted over someone. Political Correctness Gone Mad etc".

    Only to scroll down and find out my mistake.

    Seriously, how is it that some people manage to look photoshopped in real life?

  41. Geoff Johnson

    Could be good marketing

    How many people have looked at that page who otherwise wouldn't.

  42. Spleen

    @Geoff Johnson

    "How many people have looked at that page who otherwise wouldn't."

    If the rule of "no publicity is bad publicity" has a limit, this is it. Every single person who has looked at that advert has thought "wow, what a bunch of stupid tossers". Even racists won't feel more inclined to use Microsoft, because they'd be annoyed that Microsoft used a black man in the first place. And you can't use the "raising awareness" excuse because everyone already knows about Microsoft, at least, everyone who would have come across this news article.

  43. Craig 28


    Much of the English speaking world doesn't even use MM/DD/YYYY for goodness sake.

  44. Will Shaw

    Interesting metaphor...

    The woman is maintaining a fixed grin whilst slowly - so slowly - her hand edges towards the "escape" button. Armageddon-ouda-here.....

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: MM/DD/YYYY

    @ Craig 28

    No it's not "much of the English speaking world", it's pretty much ALL of it. In fact Wikipedia says "the vast majority of the world's countries" (whether they are English speaking or not).

    It's only the USA and a couple of tiny countries (like Belize and Micronesia) that routinely use MM/DD/YYYY.

    Everyone else uses a sane system of either big or little endian.

  46. Maty


    I think those smiles are fake too.

  47. Simpson

    Empty suits

    I'd say that the black guy's head was pasted on too.

    If you go to the original at and zoom in (ctrl+), the head is too big. The wrist is a different color than the hand too.

    Maybe MS just has a bunch of pics of empty suits, that they paste random heads onto.

    @Sarah Bee: Too bad you're ignoring me, as this post contains a perfect line for a "that's what she said" response.

  48. Rex Alfie Lee
    Jobs Horns

    Ve Are Not Vacist Pigs

    Microsoft are ze new vave. Hitler lives in Poland & is in contwol of Microsoft. Ve vill have no more blck people unless zey are in cages. Asians are cleaners so zey are allwight but ze blck people zink zey can be vhite but zey are wong. Cut zere heads off, zuck zere guts out zrow ze skins away, nobody knows how much I love my zree blcks every day.

  49. Damien Thorn

    way off the mark

    Were in the 21st century, and someone changed a photo.

    Only the person who changed the picture and who he works for and with know the real reason why.

    So the options are either:

    a) It was changed to reflect a younger dynamic group

    b) It was racist.

    c) On the page the image looked incorrect or clashed or contrast drawing the users attention away from some other item

    Or perhaps it was one of a million other possible reasons.

    This is a prime example of a problem with society, the word Racism has to be the most abused word we today know of, positive discrimination then exists.

    So when something like this happens, were so forcefed thinking of others etc, and not wishing to offend people we end up doing just that by shouting "racist"

    Microsoft didnt add a caption, nor did they add inference to his race / religion / orientation, all they did was replace it with a different image for whatever point they had to advertise, it was those who saw it first who implied it was racist thing to do.

    Which means it cant possibly be racist as there was no reason for it to be seen as such, there was no victim other than those going round saying it was racist either offended because some person none of us actually know was removed or jumping on the bandwagon to appear to be in tune with modern society.

    Plus microsoft even said sorry as they had no idea it would cause any sort of insult etc.

    So ppl need to get off there high horse and just learn to live with everyone in the world and dump racism because now its creating the issues it was designed to name and shame.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    I'm Polish but I'm not racist

    hi guys. i hate m$. i'm linux user. i'm polish. i'm not racist. joke, because someone might think, that in poland only racists are (incorrect grammar, i don't care). idiots R everywhere

  51. amoney


    LOOK closely at the hands at the cuff, there is something very unatural. I think the whole pic is cut and past from stock, even the womans hands look fake.

    Photo manipulation like this has existed since the dawn of MS paint. This is not the first time Microsoft or other companies have done something like this.

    And yeah it was done to reflect the population of the country, so what, people are make a big deal out of nothing.

    Critisize Microsoft for being lazy.

  52. Andus McCoatover

    re. re: MM/DD/YYYY

    Odd that USA still uses Fahrenheit.

    But, so does Libya.

    So, are they still talking now?

    Be bombed if they are! (oops!)

  53. LaeMi Qian

    re. re: MM/DD/YYYY

    Well, MM/DD/YYYY makes sense if you write it in WORDS rather than numbers (eg, September the ninth, two thousand and nine) but in digits, please use something that remotely resembles order-of-magnitude. Although at work I use DD/MM/YYYY as it is Aust. standard, I prefer YYYY.MM.DD as it has the same direction-of-magnitude as all the other numbers I use. I've got better things to do with my limited mental capabilities than work with special-case idio(t)syncrasies like that.

    I always find the way USians try to call their measurement systems 'Standard' quite hilarious. NO!! it's "IMPERIAL" as in the King and the Boston Tea Party. Accept the 19th century end of monarchical power like the rest of the world already ;-P

  54. lpopman

    re. Imperial metrics

    You know, when I hear the term "Imperial", I don't automatically think of kings and queens, I think of feet, inches, fathoms, tons (imperial, not metric "tonne", or even the lighter US version of the ton).

    Empire, Imperial and other similar words originate from scientific terms such as Empirical (rough meaning: definitive)

    Nothing to do with oppressing USians into bearing arms :)

    /etymology rant

    as for the main story, isn't it just a simple case of brain catching up with mouth, as opposed to some conspiracy....

    hmm, applying Occam's razor to the story allowed me to say something to defend MSFT on this one, but I feel dirty....very dirty...can we get a shower icon, dearest moderatrix?

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