Microsoft has apologized after a Polish version of the company's ad had been retouched to have a black man's head replaced with the head of a white man.

The image alteration of the picture was making rounds on the forums last night and Microsoft pulled the picture.

The edit of the Microsoft ad for its Polish division was crude to say at least. The US ad depicted three people at a conference table: an Asian man, a black man and a white woman. When localizing the marketing image for Poland, Microsoft had the black man's head clumsily replaced with that of a white man.

The photos are basically identical and the Microsoft ad left room for racial interpretation. However, in the picture, only the black man's head was replaced -- the hands noticeable of a different colour.

Many thought this was originally a joke, but a double check last night on Microsoft's both US and Polish sites confirmed otherwise. Microsoft apologised and pulled the image from the Polish site today, while "looking into the details of this situation," the company told Cnet.

The Polish Microsoft site now features the unaltered image.

There are also a couple of other peculiar things about Microsoft's (even unedited) image. First of all, the laptop in front of the black man is an Apple MacBook (yes, another Apple product in a Microsoft ad with the logo covered) and the computer monitor in front of the woman is not plugged into anything, even though the keyboard is.

Perhaps Microsoft should either look twice before buying stock photography or just hire a local photographer when they want to localize some marketing images.