Microsoft’s Vista… Like Sanka?

Some part of Microsoft must have woke up and realized that they have an image problem and rallied the troops to go into defrag mode (excuse the pun).

I don’t watch a lot of TV personally, however I have seen two very different Microsoft TV spots in the last three days that left me wondering what the software giant wants to communicate to us.

The first one I saw with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld was frankly disturbing and left me wondering who exactly is in charge over there now days and why. Today I saw another new one that was supposed to trick you into buying Windows Vista. In the commercial, a handful of average folks, were being shown Microsoft’s “New” operating system, only the TV audience was never shown the screen they were looking at. After they all gushed about how great it was, the announcer told them it was Windows Vista and suggested we all give it a try.

This is a pretty old technique in TV advertising with the surprise ending that you’ve just been had with a product that you thought was inferior. I remember as a kid, the old Sanka switcheroo commercials that would replace people’s regular coffee with Sanka. After they all had a gulp, they were told what it was and everybody had a good laugh and said they would make the switch. My feeling always was that the regular coffee must have been pretty bad to begin with if they couldn’t tell it was switched out with Sanka.

Just like in the Microsoft commercial, the people interviewed were all shocked with glee about the switch, however the fact they did not recognize the near two-year-old operating system tells me that they were not power users by any stretch and probably have not had a new computer in a very long time.

In the end neither of the Microsoft commercials were clever nor thoughtful in a way that would influence me. I still use XP and have never made the switch to Vista and probably never will. An operating system really should be transparent to any user, not the focal point in your computing life. Take Apple’s TV spots; they don’t parade Steve Jobs around or try to convince you how awesome OSX really is, they just say that Macs are fun and easy to use and so far the message has been successful in getting people to switch to Mac.

Whether Microsoft is just trying to smooth things over with us or has really hit their stride in the industry, I really cannot say at this point. The world is rapidly becoming more mobile and the iPhone is a clear indication of that progression. Mobile handset sales exceed PC sales by a wide margin worldwide, which is a statistic that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. My advice to Microsoft would be that if they really want to impress us with clever TV spots, put their efforts into improving and expanding their mobile platform and come out with their own iPhone device that really makes us want to make “the switch”.

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