First hints of Microsoft's "fight back" ads appear

First hints of Microsoft's "fight back" ads appear

Summary: A new ad at tries to make the case for a fresh look at Vista by pointing out that "at one point, everyone thought the earth was flat." Aligning its most vocal Vista critics with the Flat Earth Society is a clever way to get people's attention, but can this approach really overcome the overwhelming negative buzz about Windows Vista?


I just noticed this teaser on Microsoft’s home page:

New Microsoft ad

If this is going to be the overall message of Microsoft’s much-vaunted new $300 million ad campaign, it might be money well spent. According to the folks at LiveSide, the first ads in the new campaign were previewed at Microsoft's employees-only Global Exchange conference last week to rave reviews. As Tim Anderson astutely noted the other day, “Vista is now actually better than its reputation. That’s a marketing issue.” Microsoft’s biggest challenge is to get would-be customers to set aside whatever preconceptions they have and listen to its pitch for Vista. Aligning its most vocal Vista critics with the Flat Earth Society is a clever way to get people's attention.

But the bigger job, that of actually changing people's minds, will be easier said than done. Apple has largely defined Vista’s public image so far with its devastating “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads. Responding directly to those ads is a losing tactic. Largely thanks to John Hodgman, the humor bar is set extraordinarily high. Any kind of response ad would legitimize the claims in those Apple ads and run the significant risk of being seen as lame and uncool.

And there’s no sign that anyone in Redmond is going to go down that road. Instead, clicking the link on the “World is flat” ad leads to a page headlined, “Windows Vista: Look how far we’ve come.” The copy beneath leads off with a sheepish admission:

When Windows Vista debuted in January 2007, we declared it the best operating system we had ever made. "Windows Vista is beautiful," The New York Times raved. It's humbling that millions of you agree.

But we know a few of you were disappointed by your early encounter. Printers didn't work. Games felt sluggish. You told us—loudly at times—that the latest Windows wasn't always living up to your high expectations for a Microsoft product.

But that's followed quickly by a reinforcement of the theme set out in the visual above:

We know that's what some people are saying on the Internet. And in its early days, Windows Vista did experience some compatibility problems. But thanks to our industry partners' efforts during the past 18 months, here's where things stand today.

Next up is a bullet list emphasizing the sheer number of Vista-compatible hardware devices and applications, and it’s followed by this ringing defense aimed at XP enthusiasts:

Windows XP is a great operating system. Its continuing popularity, just shy of its seventh birthday, makes us proud.

Our goal is always to make each new version of Windows better than the last. With Windows Vista, we're convinced we succeeded.

That's a pretty good start. The real hard work begins with the messages that immediately follow this one. Microsoft has to identify the real benefits in Windows Vista and communicate them clearly and crisply. That’s not going to be any easy task.

Update 23-July: A Microsoft spokesperson confirms that the ad shown here is not part of the upcoming ad campaign, which is due to launch soon.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Perception IS reality.

    The damage is done. Apple is #3 in US home computer sales today. Perception [b]is[/b] reality and unfortunately for microsoft they've got battered, much of it being well deserved. This is the proverbial finger to plug a dyke breach.
    • And my perception is that...

      ... Vista got a bum rap due to third party problems that have now been addressed.

      Sound familiar? Look back on the Windows XP complaints about third party problems.

      Vista works just fine as long as you either purchase a new computer with Vista compatible hardware, or upgrade your existing computer after consulting the Upgrade Advisor AND following its instructions.

      How many folks were disappointed with upgrading a Windows 98 computer to Windows XP without doing the same?
      Confused by religion
      • Want Vista with a SSD? try here
        • *facepalm*

          Oh I see. You do know the actual title should be "SanDisk blame Vista for them not getting their shit together and providing effective drivers for the world's fastest growing operating system." don't you?

          At least El Reg got it right.

          Oh and SSD's are faster at reading data, not writing. However since Vista pre-caches all your regularly used applications using Superfetch it's kind of a moot point anyway.
          Sleeper Service
          • Pre-caching and the dark ages

            Microsoft can't recover from where they are. There's only one way for them to go and that's back down to where they should have been in the first place with their jokeware. Amazing what an anti-competitive pre-install monopoly can do for revenues.

            The only people that like them are press release consuming mouse-wielding IT wannabees who don't know anything more and want to hang on to their precious job installing anti-ware and clicking where they know the button is.

            As for the Microsoft share crash party - it's time to start buttering the sandwiches ;-)
          • Let me get this straight:

            You're saying that "Microsoft can't recover" when Microsoft has more than 90% of the market, including all other operating systems? And that even though Vista is selling more copies than OS X that Mac is beating MS? AND that since many of the Mac buyers are putting Windows (mainly Vista) on their macs that somehow Microsoft is losing? Microsoft doesn't CARE how many sales Hp, Dell, or Toshiba has. If the only computers bought are Macs that's perfectly okay so long as people keep using boot camp and parallels to run Windows due to OS X's still lacking compatibility, it's having to plug holes every week, and the fact that for once mac couldn't compete with Windows' looks. And if you think Linux has a chance, keep on trippin'. Linux will never became mainstream enough for the average user. And unless Mac drastically changes, they won't be inexpensive enough for the average customer. To game on Mac you need Windows. To game on Linux you need a software specialist. There goes two HUGE slices of the market that stereotypes will force into their 3rd and 4th place spots, behind the current gen windows and the previous gen windows.

            I'm not sure WHY I'm responding to a troll like you who ALWAYS spouts bullocks, but I am. Microsoft's stocks haven't even close to crashed. Vista is a financial success, and so are several other products Microsoft is pumping out such as the Xbox 360, which is EASILY the most profit making system of the 4 currently selling. They don't have the most consoles, but they have sold more games than the Wii and the PS3 COMBINED. They have some of the highest selling games of all time. Microsoft is far from hurting.

            And then there's Silverlight. Whether you like it or not, it's ALREADY gaining a hold on flash. You know what the only online media for the 2008 Olympics will be in? That's right, Silverlight. Microsoft got the deal. Adobe is stepping off.

            I guess those are hurting MS's stocks? Microsoft's stocks were the second highest they had EVER been this past holiday season. The only time they were higher was when computers were really getting sold to everyone for the first time in the 90's. And the stocks are currently rising, which is unusual for the midyear.

            Installing anti-ware? For Windows Vista? What viruses have you seen for Vista, pray tell? Microsoft has repeatedly plugged holes in the software FOR vista, such as IE and Windows Mail (two horrible programs), but when have you seen issues with Vista itself?

            I'm no IT worker. I do web design, computer design, and a few other things in waves (I move around a lot). CAD, LabView, Adobe CS3, Java, C++, and VB are just a few things that I work with pretty friggin' often. No other OS will do exactly what I need and want it to do without installing extra junk to make things work. So you can shove your opinion back down your bigoted throat.
          • Silverlight gaining hold on flash?

            EvilKillerwhale, you stated: "Whether you like it or not, it's ALREADY gaining a hold on flash. You know what the only online media for the 2008 Olympics will be in? That's right, Silverlight. Microsoft got the deal. Adobe is stepping off."

            Let's see, why would MicroSoft's Silverlight be the only online media for the 2008 Olympics? Hmm , let's see... What network is broadcasting the network in the US? Why, that is NBC!! And who does NBC have a partnership with for news and other media content on the WEB? My GOSH!, that would be MICROSOFT !!!!

            Do you seriously think Microsoft is not going to strongarm NBC into getting a deal to be the only online media player used for the Olympics?

            I would bet that NBC would suffer if they didn't give their partner preferential treatment. I personally don't think that is saying much for how great Silverlight is.

            Microsoft has used it's position, influence, and MONEY to dominate the market for a long time. If they can't make a better product than a competitor, they BUY the rights to competing product or the company that makes it. Then they quitely kill that competing product. Or they rebrand it and then claim it was their inovative thinking that brought the product to market. BULL@#@^ !!

            And haven't we heard of Microsoft being sued over code that has been STOLEN from competing products, and then passed off as their own? I seem to remember a few of those lawsuits. And because of their gorilla tatics, Microsoft wins. Or if they have to pay any fines, they use their enormous wealth to buy their way. It is like swatting an irritating fly to them. Kill it and move on, no big deal. Irks the crap out of me.

            Bill Gates zeal for World domination in anything computer software related, seems to have mellowed with age and marriage to Belinda. And I would be reservedly optimistic with that. But Balmer's continued maniacal quest for world domination scares me. It is one thing to be fanatical about one's own company, and wanting to make it the best it can be. But Balmer gives the impression that he is out to kill any company that dares make a better product.
          • "Microsoft's stocks haven't even close to crashed"

            No, let's just say on a downward glide.

            MICROSOFT CP (NasdaqNM:MSFT) Edit
            Last Trade: 25.44 $
            Trade Time: 9:00PM
            Change: Down 0.99 (3.75%)
            Prev Close: 26.43
            Open: 26.08
            Bid: 25.43 x 300
            Ask: 25.50 x 2400
            1y Target Est: 35.84$
            Ole Man
          • Da plane Microsoft.... Da plane

            "Our goal is always to make each new version of Windows better than the last. With Windows Vista, we?re convinced we succeeded."

            Well based on that I'm sure I could convince Microsoft to buy a acre of swamp land for $10 million.

            And to really sweeten deal I'll throw in all my copies
            of Win Me..!!

            I'll even throw in four copies of Vista to close the deal..!!

            Yahoo...I'll be Rich...!!

            "Da plane" Microsoft.... "Da plane"....

          • Keep your day job

            Stand-up comedy is tough.
            Ed Bott
          • He's Got a Point

            Your articles on WGA were very fair-handed. Genuine journalism. Likewise your article about Microsoft's due apologies for Vista and setting things right.

            But othertimes it's hard to tell you apart from ye or rtk. It's not that you counter with facts, but rather sarcasm and ad hominem attacks.

            It's confusing.
          • So...

            ...if I'm criticizing Microsoft, I'm being fair. But if I apporove of something they've done, I'm biased.

            OK, you can keep your day job too.
            Ed Bott
          • That's Not My Perspective At All

            Your objectivity is essential.

            But you're losing your composure.

            Maybe you could use a vacation. Spend some time with the people dearest to you who make you smile.
          • Gee...

            Thanks for your concern for my well-being.
            Ed Bott
          • It Seemed To Me

            that you were getting irritable. Whether I agree with you or not, I have always respected your professional attempts at remaining impartial.

            You didn't seem your usual self.
          • I can not believe it!

            Finally somebody who knows the difference between moot and mute. I had given up hope.

            Made my day.
        • Quoting the Inquirer

          is probably a bad start if you're trying to make some sort of point. SanDisk isn't the only maker of SSD drives and everyone else's works fine.
        • The Enquirer?? Rubbish. Let's try a Sandisk link

          Here's a blurb from Sandisk:<br><i>

          ?Compared to a score of between 3 and 4 for a typical rotating hard disk in the same environment, we scored quite well,? said Iri Trashanski, director of business development for the SanDisk Computing Solutions Division. ?With results like these and certification from Microsoft, PC manufacturers and consumers will find it even more worthwhile to move away from conventional HDDs in order to enjoy the improved performance, durability and reliability delivered by our SSD product line.?
          This kind of garbage and spin is getting old and is obviously totally unprofessional <br>
          As any linux user would say, to even someone that merely mentions using windows. <br>
          You are a troll....go somewhere else to amuse yourself.
          • or cnet news

            Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eli Harari said that Windows Vista will present a special challenge... because Vista is not optimized for flash memory solid-state disk

            Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eli Harari of Sandisk

        • So what?

          So Sandisk cant make it work, is it MS that is at fault or Sandisk that jumped in without any understanding what they were doing. If I took a bicycle into a lake and it sank whose falt is that?