Microsoft Corp. became the victim of a hoax Thursday when a link to a parody Web page based on one of its "How to" instructional sites spread rapidly around the Internet via email.
The web site, entitled "HOWTO: Read the F---ing Manual," is a spoof of one of Microsoft's information pages, and aims its caustic and profane comments at users who ask obvious questions about how to use their computers.
The page features familiar design elements from Microsoft's own Web site and makes it appear that the company's network has been hacked, prompting users to disseminate it widely among friends and coworkers. A closer look shows that the actual page comes from a different domain.
"It's just directing users to a page hosted (on a different) Web site," said Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn. "Nothing in our network has been compromised; you're not even looking at a page that's on one of our servers."
Microsoft is investigating the source of the page because some people who receive the link might mistake it for a Microsoft Web page, although it's not clear if the author violated any laws, Sohn said.
The site goes on to say that the information in the article applies to "General Lamers," and lists "the ability to read" and "basic brain function" as prerequisites. An additional "References" section includes advice on "How to: Read" and "How to: Apply for employment with McDonalds."
The mock Web site, which contains several profanities, can be viewed at: http://email@example.com/pub/mskb/Q209354.asp/.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or http://www.microsoft.com/.