Microsoft's latest Google-compete weapon: The Gmail man

Summary:Microsoft managed to keep its 12,000 or so attendees of its annual Microsoft Global Exchange sales conference from tweeting and blogging company secrets last week. But at least one enterprising attendee managed to grab one of those infamous sales videos that the company loves to show at these events.

Microsoft managed to keep its 12,000 or so attendees of its annual Microsoft Global Exchange sales conference from tweeting and blogging company secrets last week. But at least one enterprising attendee managed to grab one of those infamous sales videos that the company loves to show at these events.

On July 20 during the MGX opening sessions, the Softies showed off their "Gmail Man" spoof, meant to spur the troops selling Office 365 against Google Apps, and specifically, Gmail. In the video, Gmail man riffles through mail to find keywords for serving up ads. The message: Google cares more about advertising revenues than privacy.

Remember the whole "Gmail ads learning from your inbox" thing?  Google has acknowledged that Gmail scans content and context of email as part of its ad system. And just today (thanks to @johnobeto), I saw this story about a reporter's Google+ experience setting off more privacy alarm bells. (Makes me glad I'm still taking a wait-and-see-if-it's-still-around-in-a-few-months approach to G+.)

I asked Microsoft whether the video is legit and received an official no comment. I have to say I think it's the real deal. It has all the hallmarks of a real Microsoft production, including the fact that the name on the company doors that Gmail man opens when visiting an office is  Contoso Ltd. As Microsoft customers, partners and watchers know all too well, Contoso is Microsoft's favorite fake company name, and is used in demos for all kinds of Microsoft products.

Here's the Gmail man video clip, which the aforementioned attendee shared with me and gave me permission to post on YouTube and share:

The punch line: "Your email is your business. Google makes it theirs."

There's been a lot of back-and-forth between Microsoft and Google in the Office 365 vs. Google Apps cloud app-suite debate. The two have taken pot shots at their competitor's feature set, uptime record, pricing models and more. They've also both taken to publicizing their respective customer wins/steals from one another.

The thing to remember about Microsoft MGX videos are they're just a means of revving up the sales troops. -- kind of like what Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner did with his one-liners at Microsoft's recent Worldwide Partner Conference. They are NOT meant to be a sales tool for customer calls. (Fixed. I forgot the word NOT in my original.)

Still, it's interesting to see what the Softies are focusing on, in terms of their sales messages....

Update (July 29): Google officials want it known, for the record, that there aren't ads in Google Apps for Business. "But admins can choose to enable the ads if they want- some find them useful," a Google spokesperson noted.

See also:

Topics: Apps, Browser, Cloud, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Google, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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