August 17, 2008
Let’s face it. Microsoft just isn’t as cool as Apple. And after a heck of a sales slump with their beloved Vista and Bill Gate’s departure, things are looking pretty grim for them. And rightfully so — their advertising sucks. Lee Clow’s genius “Get A Mac” campaign has hit internet stardom, and turned into a phenomenon that successfully depicts Microsoft as “uncool” for anyone who doesn’t work in a cubicle. The Economist put it well, quoting: “All this puts Microsoft in the awkward position of having its brand image defined by a rival—despite its own vast advertising budget, which towers above Apple’s.” And they made a very interesting point with that as well.
Similar to Google now, about fifteen years ago (which is ages in computer technology) Microsoft was the ‘it’ company, literately and technically. Although there was no main competition, Windows users enjoyed using their R2 operating system and Bill Gate’s mastermind domino effect was in full force. Everyone bought a Windows because everyone else had a Windows. And that was the story of Microsoft’s life — until Mac got out of their previous slump with their OS 9. Until then, people never thought of computers as….cool. And that was really what fed Apple’s beast and let them unleash their OS 10, with a level of user service, compatibility and customization that shocked the world. No one had ever seen or heard about it before, and that is what kept Windows alive — people were simply afraid to switch to a previously unstable company. My family was one of the people who did, and I vividly remember the color and brightness the OS 9 and 10 boasted. I loved my iBook clamshell, and never cared that it crashed about three times a day (mostly because I was about six).
After the OS 10, Apple really separated themselves with Windows as the cooler brand and used it to their advantage. When the iPod came out, Apple thrived on its sleek, easy to use music player that swamped everything from the Creative to the Walkman. And what did Windows do? They fought fire with fire and created their own, hopefully for them “cool”, new music player — the Zune.
And it was horrible. It was ugly, bulky, and huge. But what windows really failed to do was the feature that made the Ipod thrive – accessibility. Anyone can own an iPod from any computer (including Windows) and buy songs from anywhere (the iTunes Store just makes it easier) and put it on your iPod. The Zune simply made that impossible, not letting you take any songs from your previous iTunes store purchases, basically making sure that you start a new collection of music in Microsoft’s Zune store, which is more limited.
Windows diehards valiantly defended their sole portable device with biased charts and Apple Parodies striving themselves on the fact that the Zune uses WiFi. And although that’s great, the only WiFi that Microsoft offers on their Zune is music sharing, where you can only play your buddy’s (he has to have a Zune) songs three times and then you must buy them off of the Zune store. And now with the iPod touchand iPhone, you can use WiFi (yes…you can’t change songs) to surf the web, update your wordpress, and do basically anything on the web you can with a computer.
So after soon after the Zune’s release, Apple released it’s iPhone, which needs no introduction. Originally laughed off by Steve Balmer, the iPhone tromped all of Window’s brand name phones, and Balmer again looked like an idiot. So after all this, Windows really was in deep trouble. They looked like old, dark, cubicle hackers, and that really wasn’t what many users strived to be. They lost tons of business from mac and their “get a mac” campaigns. So what did they do? Fight fire with fire….again. This time it was with an ad of their own — the Mojave Experiment, where they brought people into their dark San Francisco lair only to have them completely rip up Vista, calling it slow and “crash happy.” Then they showed them a “new” windows interface with a codename Mojave, and they said it was nice and fast. All of this is ‘conveniently’ on tape and is documented on this website.
Windows again has made themselves look boring and dumb, and overall — uncool. And until Microsoft can make something better than Apple without copying them, then I (and many other people) will eat our hats.