Friday, May 22, 2009

I’m a PC

You've all seen them: those Microsoft ads with the cute redhead (Lauren) or that other guy, where the challenge is to buy a laptop for less than $1000. These ads are really geared against Apple, whose laptops (while very nice) never dip below $1000.

A reader emailed me an article in Newsweek, from a few weeks ago: I'm A PC. Keep The Change by Daniel Lyons (senior editor and columnist, covering technology.) The article spends a lot of time explaining the Microsoft ads, then raises a few cheers for Microsoft:
For Microsoft, the other good news is the early reaction to its new operating system, called Windows 7. I've been using a prerelease version for a couple of months, and it's terrific. It boots up much faster than Vista, which was one of the big complaints. There are far fewer of those annoying warning messages. The user interface has a slick new feature, a "taskbar" at the bottom that shows what apps you have open. The new system is due out later this year.

While Microsoft's engineers can be proud of that work, what amazes me most is that Microsoft's marketers—with much help from edgy ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which Microsoft signed a year ago—have finally managed to make a decent ad, something that I can't remember this company ever doing. Remember the print ads with office workers wearing dinosaur heads? What did those even mean? Microsoft's culture has always been about engineering, led by über-dweeb Bill Gates. And marketing just isn't very important when you have a monopoly.
What's interesting to me is that the senior senior technology editor for Newsweek doesn't even mention that these features have been available for years elsewhere. "A 'taskbar' at the bottom [of the screen] that shows what apps you have open"? Please. That should be standard - Windows has had this since 1995, and Linux for just as long. Fast booting? Linux does that too.

His last statement in the above quote should give everyone pause. We've known for a long time that Microsoft has held a monopoly in the PC space. Now Microsofties begin to acknowledge that the monopoly is starting to crack. But in my opinion, Apple is the wrong target for Microsoft - after all, Mac OS X doesn't boot on just any PC, but Linux does. And with any common Linux distribution, you get applications that work just the same as (or better than) the Windows apps.

But it's okay if Microsoft chases after Apple for a while. Microsoft has a history of ignoring important changes (the Web, anyone?) until it's too late.


  1. It would appear that this editor was a former Windows 3.1 user, and was cryogenically frozen before the release of Windows 95. That's the only way someone can call a taskbar a new feature, and even use quotes to say it. "Taskbar"... That's like saying "we have these 'feet' that support our bodies and act as an interface between our legs and the ground."

  2. The taskbar in Windows 7 is indeed new, but only in the way it functions and only a little bit. It's mostly (Windows Taskbar)++, which is to say it's (anything else)--.


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