Microsoft has been forced to apologize to staff and customers after an event to promote its Azure Cloud platform. During the event, dancing girls sang and danced to lyrics that attendees called obscene and vulgar.
The event was a dance routine that involved the so called “dancing Azure girls” sang obscene lyrics such as: “The words ‘Micro’ and ‘Soft’ don’t apply to my p—-”, and references to sex and drugs.
The girls danced to techno music in tiny hotpants, at a European developers’ conference in Oslo, Norway. The words were also flashed up on screens around the stage throughout the performance. The event to promote updates to its Windows Azure platform but has instead sparked anger amongst delegates.
A prominent UK software developer and the keynote speaker at the conference, said Microsoft was “clueless” about what constitutes appropriate corporate behaviour. The developer challenged organizers over the sexist content ahead of the Azure girls’ performance, but it is understood the only amendment they made was to some of the lyrics that appeared on screen.
Meg Natraj, one of the female developers at the conference, expressed her outrage on Twitter. Microsoft eventually apologized for the performance, admitting it included “vulgar language, was inappropriate and was just not ok”.
Microsoft UK has been struggling to shake off allegations of inappropriate behaviour amongst its employees, since a High Court battle exposed an apparent culture of “excessive drunkenness” and “outrageous behaviour” last year. Similar allegations have been levelled Microsoft following a conference in Atlanta, USA.
However, the incident has highlighted what many see as examples of antiquated corporate behaviour. Event organizers since the economic turndown have been struggling with a public perception of MICE and incentive “perks” and such “bad press” does little to reshape public opinion.