Microsoft introduces us to the Gmail man

Mike Halsey MVP
Jul 29, 2011
Updated • Jun 26, 2017
Gmail, Microsoft

It's very common for the major technology companies to release video adverts for their products that deride or poke fun at the competition, probably the best example of these are Apple's excellent parodies of Microsoft's "I'm a PC" adverts.

Now though Microsoft are hitting out at Google with the introduction of the Gmail man, an annoying postman who reads everyone's emails before delivering them to search for key words he can use to deliver adverts to them.  The video is an advertisement itself for Microsoft's new Office 365 product.

Update: Google announced in 2017 that it will stop reading Gmail emails for advertisement purposes.

It was spotted online by ZD Net blogger Mary-Jo Foley who asked Microsoft is the video was from them, as it includes touches like the company name "Contoso" which is the company's favourite fake company name, and one I've had to use myself with Microsoft Press.  She received a firm "no comment".

The producers of this video have used every outdated stereotype in the book, from the annoying man you just want to hate, to the little girl portraying the high moral ground.  The whole video is pretty wretched stuff.

The most important part though is that while it is based on truth, it's twisting it considerably and stretching credibility too far.

Compare this to Apple's "I'm a PC" advertisements after Windows 7 launched which were genuinely funny, had some excellent writers and, factually, simply couldn't be argued with.  They were in response to Microsoft's own "I'm a PC" ads and Microsoft's attempts to get back at Apple failed abysmally.

In all the Gmail man is utterly forgettable as a video, if you watch it you'll probably just come away disliking Microsoft a little bit more.  Perhaps they should have got Google to read the notes first to get keywords they could use in the script?  ;)  You can watch the Gmail man video here:

Microsoft introduces us to the Gmail man
Article Name
Microsoft introduces us to the Gmail man
Mike takes a look at Microsoft's advertising campaign "Gmail Man" which takes a shot at Google's Gmail service for reading emails.
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  1. Alec said on August 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I think its a good article, it shows that Mike is willing to give unbiased opinion about microsoft so Kudos Mike for doing some good journalism.

    Also there is nothing wrong with microsoft products, all software/hardware has problems but due to ms mass saturation early on in computing they had a larger amount of dissatisfied users than other competitors, soley because they had more users anyway! Nowadays the playing field is more even and yet people still strike with the old stereo type that microsoft are evil blah blah blah. Its silly!

    It would be interesting to know who actually produced the video none the less.

  2. Ray said on July 31, 2011 at 1:45 am


    I never said I like apple or iOS or Linux, actually. And no, I don’t have an iPhone but I am surrounded by people that have it (including my sister) but all of them couldn’t be less interested in the tech side of their phone, they want a product that is click-a-friendly-botton-and-deliver-[LIMITED functions].

    And also, no, I don’t have iPads and no, I don’t even like the iPod. Because everything runs through iTunes or similar soft (that costs money) and sometimes to get more functionality out of it, you actually have to jailbreak it.

    As for Coca Cola and other companies that provide MATERIAL copies of their products that actually exist when the lights go out, software isn’t that.
    And the costs of creating another unit of it doesn’t exist (in almost every case). So don’t assume that other companies (if they were given the chance that M$ had when they introduced windows to the world market) would have done the same with their software and would have went security-obsessed over it, protecting the code of their unprotected systems that still suffer from thousands of viruses that are made mainly by people that personally dislike the company and the product. What I really wish to see is not decades of Windows coming to “improve our lives” (and yes, still running XP and happy with it), costing the world billions and billions of dollars, euro, you name it… just to arrive at a point where they re-fabric the shit, give it extra new shiny look and write down features that 80% of the users will never get to use or they don’t really need.

    Now imagine for a second that the most spread operating system in the world for PCs was a free-source one. Updated to new versions for no cost and actually PROMOTING safety instead of deliberately steering from it. Yes, improvements have been made in that directions but do we need to stick with a devil that’s “changing for the better” or should we have chosen another in the first place. When is our marriage to M$ going to end?

    And about having it all in one place – I’ve never needed to have that. I never liked the cloud idea and I probably never will. I don’t have my phone sync automatically, I don’t want my facebook sync automatically and I don’t want my life going through these devices AUTOMATICALLY.
    Yes, it may help people with less knowledge and those who wouldn’t bother, but I for one like to be in control of my own possessions, which M$ doesn’t offer.

    And yes that commercial about switch to gmail is dumb (probably the dumbest I’ve seen so far) but gmail is no such thing. I have it the way I like it, I can add anything extra and it actually keeps improving! Name 1 e-mail provider that changes the rules around the internet with his services and honestly tell me if yahoo, MSN (or whatever that is called) and all the others are not barely playing catch up with google? If you want to protect your data from the “collecting google” there are many ways BUT if you want to use a free M$ product that is actually helpful to you, well now that simply doesn’t exist.

  3. Florin said on July 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    This is probably one of the worst posts on ghacks.

  4. maybe said on July 30, 2011 at 1:05 am

    “I’m pretty damn sure that Yahoo!, Microsoft and many other companies do exactly the same thing that Google do. That’s why I believe this particular advert is so off base”

    nuff said

  5. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on July 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    @Chico I’m pretty damn sure that Yahoo!, Microsoft and many other companies do exactly the same thing that Google do. That’s why I believe this particular advert is so off base

  6. Chico said on July 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Are you sure that Microsoft does not scan our messages on Hotmail? How can you be so sure?

  7. Andy said on July 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Yeah, we know Google skims our Gmail, but at least they’re honest about it.

    What most people don’t realise is that email is actually a very insecure format for communication, unless you use a mail client, install a security certificate and encrypt all outgoing mail. But then you need other people to do the same so that email you receive is also secure.

  8. yronnen said on July 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    For some reason, people relate open-source with the word “free”, which is why people who hate Microsoft always argue in favour of those “free” software packages.

    Funny enough, these people never complain about Apple, Oracle, Adobe, or any other companies that sell their software for money.

    As far as I recall GM, Toyota, Coca Cola, and many other non-software companies do not give the blue prints for their products, why should software companies do that?

    1. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on July 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      @yronnen. You make a very interesting point, especially given that three of the four Microsoft software products I mentioned in my earlier comment are free.

      While I do some work with Microsoft and they occasionally help me out with hardware for review etc. I very much doubt that Apple and Adobe (not sure about Google) would give people who work with them so much latitude for criticism as Microsoft do.

  9. Aniel said on July 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Well, I didn’t see this commercial anywhere.
    What I did see was google’s version: email intervention
    I found the link on the top right in my gmail inbox.
    I’d say their version is worse than MS.
    Fact: google wants all your data for adwords, while MS is in the business of selling software (they’re not after your data)

    1. ilev said on July 30, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Microsoft just neglected to mention that they will give full access to all your data on Office 365, even if it is on servers outside to US, to US authorities, if asked for.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 30, 2011 at 9:35 am

        Which all other US companies do as well.

  10. Ray said on July 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    You know, for a tech expert I have no idea how you could like Microsoft or anything that they’re doing… Instead of pointing people to open-source software and introducing to them the benefits of a free and constantly updated apps you still advocate for M$ awful programs.

    Nothing, I do mean nothing, beats Gmail. I have 5 e-mails there, 1 of which for my work website and I couldn’t be more happy with it. I also have mails @ yahoo, MSN, that bloody AOL and quite a few others. I never use any of them and I can’t believe how overpacked, UGLY and misfunctional they all are.

    Only thing about M$ that is worth having is the office. Please stop with the “I’m with M$” because that sounds quite unpleasant coming from a tech expert.

    1. zemaitux said on July 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Sorry, but it`s a little bit vierd oppinion. if someone is expert in IT, it should not have any ralations with MS???

    2. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on July 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm


      To answer your criticisms, what Microsoft have done well (but only in recent years) are interoperability and great consumer products. This is something that neither Google or the Linux community have yet managed to achieve.

      On consumer products I’ve been using Media Centre as my main source of TV since 2003. I like having my TV, recorded TV and my entire music, video and pictures collection in a single place attached to the television in my living room.

      Regards interoparability, my Windows 7 PCs, Windows Phone, Media Centre, Xbox 360 and Windows 7 tablet all communicate and sync with each other seamlessly through the cloud because of services like Live Mesh, SkyDrive and Office Live. It really is a case of everything everywhere.

      Until other companies step forward and begin to offer such integration there’s simply nowhere else to go for it. So while I like MS for having provided it, I suppose it’s more like a hostage likes his captor than a genuine love of the products.

      I’d hope though that this article will help convince you that when MS screw things up, I’m always more than happy to slap them down for it. :)

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