May 11

Microsoft perplexes again

Many years ago, I was actually a fan of Microsoft.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve been holding it in all this time. I feel much better now.

Yes, as a writer who loves technology, I used to anxiously await each new release of Microsoft Word for Mac. I enjoyed exploring the labyrinth of buttons and menus. The more, the merrier. I couldn’t give Microsoft my money fast enough.

But it gets even worse: I was a stockholder too. I rooted for them to succeed.

So it’s not like I slam Microsoft out of some genetic hatred. I do it because I find them absolutely perplexing. I like smart companies — and Microsoft, once a symbol of smarts, now so often plays the fool.

I wonder how a company with practically limitless resources can go MIA when revolutionary changes are afoot. I wonder how a CEO can keep his job when all those lapses take place under his watch. I also wonder what they’re thinking when they approve many of their ads — the latest example being the one above.

It appears to be an encore performance of their I’m a PC campaign, which was a timid comeback to Apple’s Mac vs. PC campaign. Where I come from, encores happen when enthusiastic audiences demand more. This campaign’s end was met more with relief than disappointment.

More perplexing, though, is the content of this ad. It’s hard to believe that creative directors, strategists and finally, the brain trust at Microsoft, would ever approve such a silly “let’s build a PC store in your house” idea.

The coup de grâce comes when our hero experiences her grand revelation: “So there is no tower anymore? Wow!”

Yikes. Who’s going to break it to her that we now have smartphones and microwave ovens? Way to make your customers look smart, Microsoft.

Then again, maybe this explains why Microsoft was so willing to overpay ($8.5 billion) for Skype this week. “We can actually make audio and video calls on our computers? Wow!”

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  • Hopefully in the near future, thanks to Skype, Microsoft will be able to find new customers cheaply. With IP cold calling! :D

    P.S.: wasn’t expecting a MS stakeholding outing! :)

  • MS Fanboy

    I actually thought this was a good ad. I don’t understand Apple fanboys always putting down everyone else. Look, if Apple wins and they are the only game in town, then we’re all fucked.

  • kevin

    “Look, if _____ wins and they are the only game in town, then we’re all fucked.”

    feel free it insert microsoft, google, facebook, any company you like.

    now where did anyone say apple was going to “win”?
    is there a pennant or gold cup in it for them?

  • ken segall

    Maybe you’re new around here. I do my share of criticizing Apple’s ads as well. But to continue my “perplexed” theme for the day, I’m perplexed by your argument that we will all suffer if Apple wins and becomes the only game in town.

    No one company will ever “win” to the point that they become the only choice. People will never be forced into Mac slavery. Keep in mind that when the Mac was born in 1984, it was Apple that gave people a choice in a world dominated by PCs. And PCs still dominate with 90% of the global market today. By design, Apple appeals only to that minority of customers who value the things that Apple values.

    I wish I understood why PC fanboys have this fear about Apple taking over the world. Just buy what you want to buy, and let others buy what they want to buy. It’ll all work out.

    @Kevin: Sorry, I didn’t see your comment when I posted mine. You beat me to it!

  • Paul

    Can someone explain to me who Russell is (the guy identified at the beginning and at the end?) and why is she going to kill him? Seriously, what’s that about?

  • rd

    Microsoft is buying a brand and a verb.
    apparently windows, office and microsft is not a verb.

    8.5 billion is cash that microsoft doesn’t want to
    pay tax because it is sitting outside the US.
    so they are saving 35% in their mind and
    cheating the american people at the same time.
    I guess they are against paying taxes.

    They probably want to go into ad business.
    they will pepper ads on skype. They can’t
    really go against carriers but if Windows Phone
    fails, they might try a hail marry pass with skype
    trying to bypass the carriers. how that will work
    is not really apparent because gov will side with
    carriers as cellphone bring in a lot of taxes.

    as for the commercial, it is just another
    lame humor that microsoft emplyees poses
    in order to be cool.

  • Bladrnr

    This commercial is so wrong on so many levels. First, did they really have to build a store in this lady’s house to get her to buy a PC? Second, how long has the iMac been around? 2004? You know, the computer without the tower. Built into the screen. So MSFT is touting a PC form factor as new when it’s been around for 6 years??? Lastly, the war is over. And yet MSFT is standing on the court with no opponent wanting to play. Apple won and went home, so no more “I’m a Mac” commercials. Apple did what they were hoping to do: get people in their stores to buy Macs. Look at the margins they get on their Macs. Look at the Mac growth for the last 28 quarters. It makes the PC market look like it’s on life support. They now have 10% market share and since they have a lot of head room, the sky is the limit. And just when it looks like the computer market is dying, shazzam!, they come to market with the iPad to announce its death. Brilliant.

    MSFT. I don’t know where you would start if you were Steve Ballmer. There is no hope in sight. They don’t get it. They aren’t willing to take big chances anymore. And they just pi$$ed away $8.5 billion they will never make a profit on. Incredible.

  • jsk

    “Towerless” PCs (or all-in-ones) go back further than that. At least to 1983’s Lisa for Apple (and the Osborne 1 for Osborne before that in 1981 – it was a “portable” too!). Certainly to 1984 when Jobs pulled the original Mac out of its bag (remember, all Macs were all-in-ones before the Mac II came out). So, at least 30 years by my count.