2008 was Microsoft’s worst year to date in terms of press coverage. In no small part to Vista, Windows Mobile (lack of development), XP downgrade fiasco and not to mention all the antitrust lawsuits, lent Microsoft a bad hand in the computer game. At first it seemed like a failed attempt to revitalize an already sour user base, but as the months slipped by it is clear that Microsoft has not one but an entire plan in which it is using to fix its tarnished name.
It all started with their answer to the Apple “I’m a Mac” ads. Needless to say, Apple did a pretty good job of making it seem like only fat lazy business executives were attracted to Windows (why else was the PC guy on the chubby side). While outside analysts have not proven it, Apple says that these ads are directly responsible for boosting their sales in the U.S. Even if that’s not the case, I have to say that because of them a lot more people don’t have nightmares of waking up to an Apple controlled world.
While many will argue about Microsoft’s first attempt at getting into the ad business, one thing is for certain, using Seinfeld for the ads got people talking. Marketing 101: your ad doesn’t have to be relevant to your product for it to be effective, just ask Geico, Anheuser Busch. Microsoft followed that up with the “I’m a PC ad” which had moderate success, but nothing got people talking as much as the “Laptop Hunters” ads which hit Apple right where it hurt: price!
And according to Microsoft the ads have been doing so well that they’ve gotten calls from Apples legal department. Microsoft has been playing their cards very well. In all their ads nothing has been mentioned about the OS (which currently is Vista), instead they have poke fun at Apple’s pricing, limited variety and of course the whole idea that Apple computers are more powerful than PC’s.
But advertisement is not all, Microsoft has also been courting the love of the tech world with their forthcoming Windows 7 OS which as the name suggests is the 7th installment of their ever so popular Windows OS. I have been surprised to see so many blogs and magazines who just a few months ago cussed the hell out of Vista are now talking about how Windows 7 rivals that of Snow Leopard. Don’t get me wrong, Windows 7 is an awesome piece of software (that is what I am writing this post on), but to be frank, (just like Snow Leopard), it’s nothing more than a glorified Service Pack.
Other PR stunts that Redmond has pulled include Microsoft’s new online store as well as a revamped head of operations. If that wasn’t enough, Microsoft has now decided to launch its own set of stores that, yes, will be popping up near Apple stores all over the world. When I first heard the idea, I was like an entire store that’s ells Windows 7? But then it hit me that we’re not dealing with stores that are catering specifically to Windows, but Microsoft as a company.
Remember that Redmond not only has Windows but Office and if the latest ads about the 1020 version of Office say anything, Microsoft is planning something big. But they just don’t stop there, on the list is Xbox and Zune and of course their venerable Windows Mobile OS.
I’m not saying this will knock Apple out of the park, but after talking to a few Best Buy and worse Wal-Mart employees I can safely say that Microsoft is doing themselves a favor by taking it out of the hands of the incompetent.
Last but not least, Zune is getting its first major update since the system was released. Again I’m not gonna talk too early but if the preview of the new Zune’s have said anything, it’s the fact that they’re finally taking their game high-tech.
Taking any of these aspects by themselves doesn’t say much, but put together and you can see the working of a stellar PR team and of course the billions Microsoft has lying around just itching to use. So as it seems Redmond will be around for a little while longer, and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t mind using a “Surface” at one of those new Microsoft stores now would you, I know I wouldn’t!
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.