Have you seen Apple's latest crop of ads? There's one that looks to me like it hits Vista's weak spot - there are too many versions of Vista.
There are three new ones on the Apple website (there's a fourth that's currently not on the Apple site but available on YouTube). Take a look at them. They're pretty funny, although I'm still waiting for the day that the "I'm a Mac" guy admits to us that he totally sucks at gaming.
Spending money on hardware that you can't leverage because the OS doesn't let you just doesn't make senseThe ad that I'm referring to is called Choose a Vista, and the title says it all really. One choice of Mac OS verses six for Vista. Well, OK, the ad being what it is isn't 100% truthful. You can't buy Vista Starter edition unless you reside in a country classed as having a "developing economy" and most people buying a home PC won't see Business and Enterprise offered on the Vista smorgasbord, so the choices are down to three. Still, three choices is one more choice than those thinking of buying a Windows-based PC had to choose from under XP's reign.
Back under XP people had two choices - Home and Professional. The names made it evidently clear to people which flavor they needed. Home users gravitated towards XP Home and professional users ... well, you get the picture. It was simple. Put XP Home and Professional side-by-side and they look to be identical to the average home user. People buying XP Home didn't feel cheated of some vital OS feature. Under Vista, things are different. People buying Home Basic get a very different Windows experience to those buying Home Premium or Ultimate. Despite the fact that the difference is partly cosmetic, because cosmetic tweaks are one of the main Vista selling points that Microsoft is pushing it's easy to see why people feel cheated.
Now, let's be honest here. Your average Mac home user sees the world in a different way to your average PC home user. I think that it's fair to say that this extends as far as how the different camps view choice and having to make a decision on what to buy next. In the Apple camp, you have a small number of hardware options on offer by one vendor and one current OS to choose from. On the PC side, you have about a trillion hardware options and more OS options than the average home user can comfortably juggle in their heads at any one time (and that's without adding Linux to the equation).
Now I don't mind choice. In fact, I rejoice in choices and options. When I'm buying something, whittling down the shortlist is part of the fun, and if I don't have at least fifty options to go to work on, I feel slightly cheated. But choice can sometimes be a problem, especially if the feature differences are vague, such as they are between the different Vista versions. If I was faced with buying a new home PC on a budget, I'd be hard pressed to know whether I should put the money towards the hardware and get the cheapest version of Windows or to go for the high-end version of Windows and compromise on the hardware. Now instinct tells me to spend the money on the hardware, but given that your average home user isn't going to be the type to later upgrade their OS, spending money on hardware that you can't leverage because the OS doesn't let you (because of an arbitrary decision make by Microsoft as to where to cut the feature) just doesn't make sense. Hands down, Apple is the easiest choice for bewildered consumers.
Now I make no secret of the fact that I believe that Vista Home Basic exists solely as a way for OEMs to sell cheap, underpowered, mediocre PCs (which I call CHUMPs). I'm also no fan of the linguistic trickery that Microsoft used in the naming - just what is the different between "Premium" and "Ultimate" or "Vista capable" and "Vista ready"?
All this I've written here is a long way of saying that, yes, I do think that this latest ad from Apple does target Vista's weak point, and that it could be just the lifeline that some consumers are frantically searching for.