Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

Free The People... F Apple.

Free The People... F Apple.

  • Comments 25

Could it really, really be?

"We've got a pretty noisy competitor out there," Brooks said of Apple whose "I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC," commercials criticize Windows Vista. "You know it. I know it. It's caused some impact. We're going to start countering it. They tell us it's the iWay or the highway. We think that's a sad message. Software out there is made to be compatible with your whole life."

- Brad Brooks, Microsoft's VP of Windows Vista consumer marketing

[via InformationWeek]

Really?  Could it be that our marketing folks are finally going to commit to being a part of Microsoft?  Could it be that our marketing folks are finally ready to proactively market to our customers, show them what a digital lifestyle looks like and what Microsoft can really do?

I am so completely and utterly sick, as an employee and a Microsoft shareholder, of seeing empty spending on crap like "People_Ready".  Remember the completely ridiculous Office Dinosaur spots?  C'mon, marketing, grow a pair... let's see some results.  No, I don't want to see a retort ad making fun of the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" goons.  That ship has long since sailed.  Let's see what all that Microsoft money and some of the smartest people in the world can come up with.

Here are some things to brush the dust off the ol' marketing degrees.  Get Fake Steve Jobs in regular primetime spots making Jobs look like a maniac.  Make Sergey and Larry look like bumbling idiots trying to copy everything you invented first.  Make fun of iLife.  Show a college kid with an iPhone cussing because he can't read a Word document, and then another college kid telling him to send it to his Windows Mobile and he'll show it to him.  Get Jessica Alba in some Windows commercials wearing something really skimpy, make the censors squirm... do something that my grandfather would never have proposed in a business setting.  Get rough, get baudy, get raunchy... get the message out there in marketing that is quotable and memorable.  Heck, even if it's just raunchy and memorable, get the Doritos girl and the GoDaddy girl wrestling in a water fountain.

If I haven't been clear, let me make it even clearer.  "HEY, MARKETING!!!  STEP UP!!!!".

My MOTHER asked me why Apple computers never get viruses.  She knows I am a diehard Microsoft fan, and she certainly knows I work for Microsoft.  Yet even with me telling her that Apple is not immune or impenetrable, she still believes what she hears in commercials.  Oh yeah, to show how qualified she is, she also THREW AWAY a computer (yep, in the trash) because it got a virus. 

The problem is that Microsoft has been the schoolyard pansy for way too long.  The Slashdot freetards essentially defined Microsoft's persona.  That persona was then taken to the mass consumer audience in clever commercial spots.  Figure it out, take it back to the masses.  Step up.

Here's a shocking thought... advertise in cheap late-night commercial spots that you can buy the Office suite for $6 per month installable on up to 3 computers.  I'm talking during the same spots that the local used car dealers advertise in, during late-night Cops and Law&Order reruns.  Try actually advertising to people with little or no money that they can create free websites on Office Live (yep... go after Oprah commercial time), right after the commercials for ambulance-chasing lawyers and study-at-home professional schools.  Try advertising how cool Windows Vista is during a primetime show. 

Here's an absolute shocker... instead of sponsoring "American Idol" through Ford and Microsoft Sync (and almost completely losing brand identity to Ford's overshadowing), why don't we invest in a top show like Survivor or one of the CSI variants?  Quit getting jazzed because Virtual Earth or Windows Mobile shows on one single episode, make it an integral part of the show.  Ya know, marketing.  I realize we sponsored Rock Star: Supernova... now, let's try sponsoring a real show that airs regularly with high ratings for a change.

Here's an absolute braniac idea... let's do something about calling "searching the web" something like "websearch" or "search", instead of calling it "Googling."  Let's do something about the "personal media player" instead of calling it a fracking iPod.  That's not going to happen overnight, you need to start working on kids shows.  I can't believe that we don't already see Zune and Windows permeate through Disney Channel shows.

Remember the Kenny Rogers song, "Coward of the County?"  Lord, I hope it ends the same, where Microsoft finally decides to stand up for itself. 

  • Wow. Honestly, I think the comments are better than the original post.

    But kaevans, you're wrong thinking that marketing is the problem, or the answer to countering what you see as an Apple threat. Yes, marketing helps. But unless you actually have the product/service to back it up, you will ultimately lose.

    But just what is this perceived threat that so impassioned you to write this post? As other have pointed out, Apple's PC market share is way small compared to Windows. There's no way in any credible person's forward projections that Apple is going to sell more systems running their OS than MS is in the forseeable future.

    You seem frustrated that MS can't counter Apple. But that's not what they are about. Others have pointed out the difference between their market focus. Apple is a consumer-focused company. MS is a big business-focused company. In the consumer's mind, MS is the boring crap they have to deal with at work, and on the way home on the bus/train/tram/car/whatever, they listen to their iPod and enjoy.

    And I'm not talking about the few of us that read your blog, we're the ones that care about this stuff. I'm talking about the great unwashed - everyone out there that has to use a PC every day and doesn't give a crap about who makes whatever.

    You can't counter that with an ad. Especially not one featuring Jessica Alba mentioning the words "Zune" or "Windows". I mean seriously, can you imagine what that would be like?

    Alfiejr got it right. It's about the people. The predominant focus of all news media around the planet is individuals. That's how we all think. Apple is just more focused on that market than MS, and far, far smarter about how they generate marketing buzz/hype/reality distortion fields/whatever you want to call it than just about any other company on the planet.

    There is no ad in the world that Microsoft could run that would result in any kind of consumer mindshare paradigm shift to make them look cooler than Apple. Nada. Zip. You can't fix that stuff with one ad.

    But seriously, if your work frustrates you this much, why aren't you doing something else?

  • I'd address each post individually, but the sentiment is pretty consistent throughout... one reply should hit pretty much all of them.

    I love Vista.  There, I said it.  I love Vista.  

    The experience of Windows Mobile + Zune + Media Center + XBox + Windows Home Server is simply awesome.  No, I am not talking about the enterprise, I am talking about consumer-facing experiences.  You know, the stuff that Microsoft never seems to talk about.

    There are some great XBox commercials.  There have been a few decent Zune commercials.  I would wager that very few people outside of Microsoft have any clue what Media Center is and why it brings the Zune and XBox together.  That's the kind of experience stuff that I am talking about.

    Watch this video:

    Oh yeah, the video player in that link is Silverlight.  Yet another piece of the experience equation that Microsoft *does* actually get it, but we are doing an abysmal job of getting the word out.  I don't have a Ford with Microsoft Sync, but I from what I have seen it brings the entire experience along with you from home to car and, yes, to work.

    I don't think a TV ad is going to immediately help perception, especially with the empassioned crowd that replied here.  It needs to be a long and committed campaign.  But we gotta start showing people that we do, in fact, have some great products and innovations.

    Several people hit it on the head:  Microsoft has focused on the enterprise with marketing.  There's where I am stunned that we don't have more presence with the home consumer, because the masses don't know about most of the great stuff we have.  

    Live Search rocks, especially Live video search and Live image search.  Live Maps (Virtual Earth) is also an incredible experience, providing better visualizations than competitors.  But that doesn't make it to the end consumers because we don't advertise to consumers.  When I mention these to my non-tech friends, they look at me and ask, "is that Google"?  

    I am not arguing with the replies at all, there is quite a bit of truth in each of the posts.  I agree, Apple makes great products.  However, Microsoft makes great products as well, just nobody really knows about them.  It's time to change that.

  • Your Digital Lifestyle: Girl from Mars spotted in the comments of Kirks blog Rob Technorati Tags: Microsof

  • I wanted to watch "The Girl from Mars" - I really did. But no way am I installing Microsoft Software on my MacBook. It took me years to escape the bloat and system-dragging ilk of MS Office and such. Sorry, you can't have my hard drive.

    QuickTime option please?



  • As a former member of the Collective I can see your points, Kirk, and I agree with you - except for the root of the problem.  MS Marketing is usually atrocious ("People_Ready", please) but it cannot by itself solve the fundamental problem, which is that the consumer business unit with the solitary exception of Xbox is not a priority for the company.  Windows, Office, Back Office, and always the developers are the only priorities for the execs.  Consumer BU does make some very cool stuff but management has never really cared about driving any of it into the marketplace, remaining focused on the enterprise.  Marketing's lack of focus on consumer is a result of executive decisions, not the problem itself.

    Regardless, it's true that MS should have had a response to the "I'm a Mac/PC" ads years ago. APPL has always had brilliant marketing. MS has... the dinosaurs.

  • Its all about work and play.

    If you work in a business that uses Macs, chances are you use a Mac at home.

    If you work in a business that uses PCs, chances are you use a PC at home unless, well, you know!

  • @Wayne,

    Exactly right. I'm a refugee from the Collective too; I've put 25+ years into living, breathing, bleeding Microsoft. Five years ago, when it became unavoidably clear that Microsoft was no longer interested in the small developers and were pricing everything so that only megacorps could fit out their shops with all the latest tools (or even a good MSDN subscription), and not yet ready to walk away from the PC hardware I had salted around the house, I switched to Linux and FreeBSD - and found that developing good Web sites (that worked on browsers, not just on IE) was a heck of a lot less painful, and I didn't have to buy all-new systems every time an OS update came out. And I could fiddle and twiddle to my heart's content....

    About three months ago, my main system started flaking out, and I decided I needed to finally buy a new one. I started looking around and got to thinking: if none of the reputable stores here (Singapore and Beijing) support Linux on a stock configuration, and if my to-do list was growing faster than my shipped-it list, did I really want to continue to spend half as much time fiddling with Linux as I'd need to spend mind-f**king Vista, just to get my stuff done?

    I'm the happy owner of a new 24" iMac 3.06 GHz, running Mac OS X 10.5.4 (and XP SP3; thanks to Parallels, the fastest Windows system I've ever touched.) I have kept careful track of the amount of time I spend maintaining/thrashing around in/confused with the Mac and.... in 39 days, the grand total is..... 22 minutes. That's 33 SECONDS per day; less time than it takes to boot Windows or Linux (and about 5 seconds longer than the Mac takes). It has been at least 25 years since I've had a system this long and still felt a thrill every time I sit down at the keyboard - "What do I want to do today?"

    This isn't entirely unexpected, but the intensity is a bit surprising. Back before I left the States, I ran desktop support for a large paper company whose products are quite likely on your desk right now. We found that our Mac users (for general office work, not specialty graphics or any of the "typical" "Mac-geek" tasks) were 74% more productive, on average, than their Windows-usee colleagues. We were also spending, on average, more than ten times as much to support a Windows seat as a Mac seat. So what if the initial hardware was twice as much? We'd have payback of that difference in a very few months - and the rest of the time the system was in service was what every bean-counter loves to hear: "reduced costs", and every manager "improved productivity."

    So MSFT has been slipping even before Vista. They've certainly not just taken their eye off the ball in the consumer space; they give every indication of being blissfully aware that that ball is in the air...a high fastball headed straight for their nose. Business shops are revolting over Vista; nobody has the budget to replace their entire fleet AND their entire software stack when the best possible outcome is that they'll be no worse off, productivity/value-wise, than they are right now with XP (or, quite often, 2000). New machines that they buy too often are infested with Vista Home Basic, but the company-standard XP image usually fixes that problem just fine.

    If Microsoft is going to survive to 2015, let alone regain some semblance of former glory, they're going to have to change - radically, visibly and immediately. That change is going to have to include a wholesale reaming of the executive levels; when the investors have gotten fed up with your company (see Kudlow et al) and the consumers only "consumed" your product because it was rammed down their throats, you have A Problem. It's not going to get better under SteveB; it's not going to get better if MSFT does eventually succeed in their Pyrrhic conquest of YHOO. It will get better only when the monkey boys and other anti-technical drones are shown the door (or the noose), and visionary technically-savvy people save the day.

    Ballmer is a cheap imitation of Gil Amelio. Or perhaps John Akers. But that isn't fair; Amelio and Akers had to display some level of competence before the Peter Principle kicked in. All SteveB had to be was a Friend of Bill. He's certainly no friend of *this* shareholder.

  • I bought an Apple IIC when they came out years ago. A few years later I bought a PC and never used an Apple since. For some reason the PC appealed to my inner geek in that I could take it apart and customize and the freedom to buy hardware from any vender. I think that's something that still applies today.

  • "The problem is that Microsoft has been the schoolyard pansy for way too long."

    This is, of course, nonsense.  The problem is that Microsoft has been, for too long defending its mother ship monopolies and doing nothing important to improve them.

    When it has made attempts like Vista, they have ended up as Vistasters.  Its other home-grown products have been resounding failures.  Xbox was vastly over budget, had failure rates > 40% on some lots and cannot ever earn a profit in excess of its cost of capital.  

    Zune is so bad and sells so badly that it is beyond embarrassment.  Zune has sold 2MM devices in almost two years.  Apple will sell that many iPhones in two months.  Apple sells 2MM iPods in two months.  I have never, ever, seen a Zune in the wild.  It has been and will stay a vanity of Gates/Ballmer.  Who will have the sense to kill this me-too offer-nothing-incrementally stupidity.

    So also were SPoT, PlaysForSure, and WinMobile.  

    Has anyone ever heard of a WinMobile Killer?  Of course not because no one targets it.  No one wants to use a WinMobile device because it was a shrunken, clunky version of Windows.  MSFT decided to use it as a Windows monopoly defender instead of developing a package uniquely tailored to handheld devices.  Consequently, people who use the clumsy junk migrate to other devices which do NOT use WinMobile.  

    No WinMobile killer?  The reason is it is already roadkill.  

    I personally used 11 WinMobile devices and never enjoyed using any of them.  The browser vitiated most of the reason to buy the device.  The browser is simply a shrunken headed version of Big IE.  In other words, it does not and cannot work right - just another monopoly defender.

    Until MSFT dedicates itself to REAL innovation instead of fourth rate, crap, monopoly defender software, people will migrate to other platforms.

    I know.  After almost 15 years of Windows, I got so tired of not being able to do a simple 15 folder backup under that abortion Windows Explorer that I gave Mac a try.

    I Will NEVER go back to Windows because the Mac actually does what it says it will do without a blizzard of grotesquely stupid interrogatories and notices.  If I want to do some drag and drops, I do not want to be repeatedly informed of the file extension and asked to confirm and reconfirm.  JUST DO IT WITHOUT ALL THE PETTY NONSENSE!

    Simply put, MSFT wasted my time when I was trying to do simple things for years.  It wasted my time with stupidly conceived, engineered and marketed products that vastly over promised and vastly under delivered.I will never trust it again.

    Schoolyard pansy?  Yes, that is, in some sense true.  It sat around, like a big bloated frog for years, doing those monumentally stupid ads - saying how innovative it is.  Xbox, Zune, PlaysForSure, SPoT, Vistaster?  These are innovative?  These are plainly junk that bring no shareholder return.

    MSFT is being squeezed to death by Apple and google.  Apple will, over the next few years, take away much of the profit of Windows as more and more people leave the massive Windows bloat and frustration behind. The iPod and iPhone were the opening wedge; they showed that using a computer does not need to be root canal work IF you use a non-MSFT computer.

    In the office arena, OFFICE has been vastly over bloated for around a decade.  google will wipe out Office within five years while the Redmond mandarins argue how much to screw their customers.

    Pansy?  Yes, it is true.  MSFT is an innovation pansy, having sat on its fat ass and defended its monopolies while the world moved on.

    Oh, by the way, did I mention MSFT's innovation initiative in Search?  Wow, there is a real winner!  Another candidate for Pansy of the Year!

  • I’m the first to recognize that it’s easy to complain, but harder to give props.  Today, I am giving

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