Leading the attack are Apple's “Mac Guy, PC Guy" ads which depict
Windows/PC as a chubby overweight maladroit businessman, while OS X/Mac is a
hip, suave younger man. The ads offer up criticism of Windows -- be it
real or made up -- fueling popular criticism
of Windows Vista. The ads have lead to public misconceptions such as
Windows being less secure, when in fact most security experts believe Macs
to be far easier to hack, due to poor patching.
Microsoft has long sat and watched these attacks with a sort of resigned
indignation. Bill Gates once
remarked, "I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it's superior. I
don't even get it. What are they trying to say?"
Now Microsoft is fed up enough that it is vowing not to take
Apple's tongue-lashing anymore. Brad Brooks, Corporate Vice President
of Windows Consumer Product at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in
Houston announced during his keynote address July 8 that Microsoft is launching
a $300M USD advertising counteroffensive against certain unnamed competitors.
He stated, "We know our story is very different from what our competitors
want us to think. Today we are drawing a line and are going to start
telling the real story (about Vista)."
Mr. Brooks decline to specifically call Apple out, instead alluding to a
"pretty noisy competitor out there". He says, however, that
Microsoft will strike back at noise makers with a pricey ad campaign being
designed by marketing gurus Crispin Porter +Bogusky.
The problems with Windows Vista, Mr. Brooks accuses were due to hardware
manufacturers negligently expecting Windows Vista not to be delivered on time,
and then being left unprepared when it was. He did acknowledge that
security changes and other changes broke numerous hardware and software
apps. However, he says Microsoft fixed virtually all these problems and
continues to hone Vista.
to hardware partners to prepare for Windows 7, previously delivered by
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, were reiterated by Mr. Brooks. If partners
don't act, they risk losing support from Microsoft according to Ballmer's
previous remarks. Windows 7 is the successor to Windows Vista, due
in 2009 by latest reports.
In an attempt to tout how compatible Vista has become, Mr. Brooks unveiled the
new portal site "Windows Vista Compatibility Center". The site
currently lists 9,000 devices and software products (3,500 apps and 5,500
devices) compatible with Vista. Microsoft hopes to up this list soon
based on feedback.
Microsoft is also preparing a secret weapon; it has developed a new system tool
called Windows Advisor, which some are calling the "Don't Blame
Vista" tool. The new tool assesses system problems and tries to convince users
that they are not Vista's fault. It assigns blame to everything from
user impatience to virus and spyware.
Also announced by Mr. Brooks was a new business ad campaign titled "Move
to Windows Vista with Confidence".
Vista adoption by businesses has been painfully poor, with even longtime
"Wintel" partner Intel
forsaking the OS, deigning it not worth the costs. The new campaign
is aimed mainly at small businesses, a possible growth area.
In its campaign Microsoft states, "Risks are a part of every small
business. Making the move to Windows Vista isn’t one of them. Buy a new PC with
genuine Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate and receive free
coaching and support from Microsoft to help you get the most out of
Microsoft will offer goodies to participants -- free phone support; tips and
tricks via a new Vista Small Business Assurance Web site; and access to
existing online tools and guidance.
Mr. Brooks concluded his pro-Windows rally stating, "Windows Vista is a
good product. The quiet majority of millions and millions of Windows
Vista users out there are going to have a great experience. The message
is ‘Move to Vista. The time of worry is over.’"
It should be interesting how Microsoft's new more aggressive methods pan
out. Will they help repair Vista's tarnished consumer image, which has
become somewhat of a pop culture humor piece? Will they convince some stubborn
users to finally move from XP? Only time will tell, but it’s
definitely a new tactic from Microsoft.