Microsoft's 'Ten Grand' Competition Ends, Was Actually Pretty Clever

Remember that online competition Microsoft Australia set up where they’d give away $10,000 to someone who found the cash, that was buried somewhere on the Internet? The aim was to promote Internet Explorer 8, and visitors of the campaign website as it was launched initially told users of other browsers to ‘get lost’ in rather rude way, which led to a Mozilla developer setting up a parodying website in response (and MS being forced to change the wording).

Anyway, the treasure hunt apparently ended quietly a while back, when the campaign’s Twitter account announced that on August 18 someone had successfully retrieved both a website address and the password needed to access it. The winner, Gavin Ballard, was announced 11 days ago and I just stumbled across this blog post on i.techreport who revealed that the website was and the password was ‘Courval’.

When you go to that website and enter the password, you can download a document with all the answers to the clues that were provided by Microsoft in order to find where the $10,000 was ‘buried’. Or you can just download the doc here or view the answers in the embedded file below.

Reading the document, I have to admit the campaign was more elaborate than I’d have thought and actually quite clever. The clues that were transmitted through the campaign’s Twitter account (which currently only has about 3550 followers left) were apparently quite mind-challenging at times and often required the treasure hunter to use Microsoft’s and many other – some even competing – online products to solve the puzzles.

It took Ballard 67 clues and 65 days to get to the correct answer.

And now I’m wishing I had participated in the online treasure hunt too.

Ten Grand