"Marketing site photo mistake—sincere apologies," said Microsoft public relations officials, in a post on social networking site Twitter. "We're in the process of taking down the image," the officials said.
The hubbub began after bloggers noticed that a photo manipulation tool had been used to replace the face of a black business professional with a white man's head for the Polish version of an ad for Microsoft enterprise tools.
The ad features two men and a woman seated at a conference table in a hi-rise office building engaged in either a meeting or a presentation. "Empower your people with the IT tools they need," says the ad's copy.
While some have speculated that the move was made because Poland's population is almost entirely white and ethnically Polish, others observed that the image of an Asian man in the original photo was left intact for the Polish campaign.
Microsoft did not offer an explanation for the change, or specify whether the ad was created by in-house marketing staff or an external agency.
The photo editing wasn't the only source of embarrassment related to the ad for Microsoft. The black man who became the white man is, in both versions of the image, using what appears to be an Apple MacBook.
The Apple logo, however, was airbrushed from the device.