Does Apple's latest "Get a Mac" ad target Vista's weak spot?

Does Apple's latest "Get a Mac" ad target Vista's weak spot?

Summary: 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.

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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.

Choose a VistaThere 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.

Thoughts?

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems

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26 comments
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  • CHUMPs with Wow

    I'll go for a CHUMP anytime; a simple installation of Ubuntu Linux 7.04, combined with Beryl, will give me all the visual Wow that I want, on weak hardware! Talking about saving money.... :-)

    Apple is sympathetic, high quality and fun. But very expensive and closed-source....

    What a pity there is no DOS Vista, that would make the CHUMPs even cheaper!

    Greetz, Pjotr.
    pjotr123
  • Good commercials....

    It's not like I'm a fan of Apple/MAC, but I certainly wouldn't accuse them of false or even deceptive advertising. All of those spots seem "dead on".

    For now, I'm going to stick with XP and hope that the next Windows isn't ME III. Then again, I'm a student at New England Institute of Technology and, in this quarter and next, I have a couple of Linux classes. The price is right. ;-)

    MGP
    MGP2
  • Article is flawed when it says there was only ....

    .... two versions of XP. Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Tablet Edition are just some of the choices. There was also the version for Europe with no media player and a Starter Edition for developing nations. Things really haven't changed that much for Vista except what the versions are called.
    ShadeTree
    • XP editions

      but XP Tablet is *only* for tablet pcs, and, in fact, they don't operate properly as tablets without it. So you can't really throw that into the Home/Pro stew; it's more like a parallel universe. Tablets can choose from Tablet Home or Tablet Pro. *If* the user wants it to act like a tablet.

      As i understand, Media Center XP is only useful if you have the hardware to support it, so that's an easy option, too. If you have a multimedia AV I/O unit and intend to do that sort of stuff, pick Media Center XP. If not, don't.

      Thanks, but i'll stick with OS X. i can choose not to install extra stuff, like all those printer-drivers, and after install i can easily remove excess software i don't want (say, Safari if i prefer Firefox). *And even then, it's cheaper than the equivalent Vista.*
      aellath
      • One thing that isn't mentioned

        is that with new PCs with Vista you get an upgrade DVD which will allow you to upgrade to any higher version of Vista should you decide you want more. Now I haven't looked at the pricing scheme of these upgrades to give you an intelligent analysis as to whether it costs more money to upgrade after you've made your original or not. But I think that option should be analyzed or at least mentioned before concluding that people are stuck with their original Vista choices.

        With this choice in mind, my recommendation to anybody wanting a Vista machine (aside from getting additional RAM) would be to get Home Basic, and upgrade later should you decide you want more. Just don't lose that DVD. ;)
        Michael Kelly
        • Should have been reply to story (nt)

          :(
          Michael Kelly
    • More Choices

      If I remember reading correctly (I may not, so don't shoot me if I'm wrong) the reason MS is offering so many versions is because of the multiple versions that XP had. MS wanted to expand on that and give the user even more choices. I agree that MS defintely could have done a better job of defining those choices, but as long as there are choices I'm happy.

      For the Mac commercial to make fun of having choices just shows the mentality of the people they're aiming at. And don't take that to mean "Mac people are stupid." They're just aiming at a target audience that doesn't want to have to think about what's in their computer. The ads work.

      Macs are nice, but I'll stick with a PC. Between MS and Linux and all the hardware that's out there I have more than enough choices to keep me happy for a great price.
      TechnoCritter
      • Pick One

        So pick one, and understand that you live with your "choice" for the next 2-3
        years. I honestly think you have this backwards. Simplicity is not the bait for
        simpletons, choice is. Abundance over substance, and a dazzling shelf display is
        guaranteed to push the focus from "use" to "choice". The 30 minute shopping
        experience subverts the 2-3 year of use. But hey, you got a cash-back coupon
        right?

        The real choice, the choice between computing experience, and the choice
        between third party apps, is now on the Mac. The world's best designed hardware
        also happens to run Windows, Linux, and OSX and Unix. Let's add all teh software
        that runs on those platforms. You get to choose between different kinds of plastic,
        logos, chrome fittings, fans, and second rate motherboards. Sorry, you lose.

        So tell me again about your choices, which are narrowed to one by any reasonable
        budget. Then let's have a productivity race, and let's see how 2-3 years of a better
        designed, more productive computer can greatly contribute to all the other
        choices in life.
        Harry Bardal
        • Reasonable Budget

          Do you want the whole list? For under $1500, I built a full system with Vista Business (OEM), Office 2007 (OEM) and top of the line hardware. RAID 1 included. 23" widescreen LCD. The works. And I picked out the hardware and OS myself. Could I have gone cheaper? Sure, get rid of the RAID, less RAM, older video card and I still would have had a great system.

          Macs aren't bad and nobody is calling Mac users "simpletons", but I prefer the CHOICE of knowing that I built my system with the options that I picked out. Granted, typical John Doe isn't going to build his own, but he expects (and better receive) the same quality hardware computer that a Mac user would expect. If he doesn't get it, by all means, try a Mac or something else.

          I fully expect my home-built system to last a lot more than 3 years. I'm expecting at least 6 out of it, just I expected my other system which is still running XP to last at least 3 more years on top of the 3 it's already run. My reasonable budget gets me at least 6 years. How does yours do?
          TechnoCritter
      • What choice, really?

        If given the choice of a fully functional OS that does everything offered at one low price, or a fully functional OS at a higher price and various offerings with less functionality, is that really a great boon for consumers?
        tic swayback
  • Weak spot

    The whole campaign has been MS's weak spot. It's full of gut's and funny! Very bold but Apple isn't the only challenge for Vista and other MS products. Things have changed and the power of today's software development have made the market more challenging.

    MS is still the Giant but it doesn't have the power to trample over the "little people" anymore. The new feisty fawn is a challenge or at least seems to be. I'm using it now and it's great! The real challenge will be when Linux ships on PC! Here come the Games? I think so.

    I don't think Apple would have had the power or the gut's to run ad's this bold 10 years ago. Things have changed!
    xstep
    • Apostrophes are for possession

      Seriously, and I promise this isn't an attempt to be rude, please know that you can form the plural of words in English by adding an "s" or "es" in most cases. You do not form plurals using apostrophes. So, you should write of "guts" and "ads". Sorry to be off topic, but I am afraid we are losing our ability to write clearly in this country.
      bmgoodman
  • The Choice myth

    Ah, the old choice myth. Choice is not intrinsically worthwhile. What is desired is
    MEANINGFUL choice.
    frgough
  • Computing vs Shopping

    If you're a fan of choice, be a fan of substantive choice. A choice that truely
    differentiates the computing experience. A choice between platforms, rather than
    some intra-platform cheap Chinese motherboard swap.

    For years consumers have been sold abundance over substance. The 30 minute
    act of purchase has been the focus, rather than the 2-3 years of use that follows.
    The PC ecosystem has sold it's soul to fake choice then went home with a cheap
    popcorn prize.

    Seriously, I thought you folks were into computing, not shopping. I thought this
    exercise was supposed to be about getting work done?

    Choice?my a**.

    The Apple ads court a new computer user that doesn't require a tethered
    "computer guy". They speak of a real choice. One between platforms, one between
    experiences... not some faked-up, good-better-best marketing ploy targeting
    shopaholics.
    Harry Bardal
    • I'm confused at what you are getting at

      Are you mad at Microsoft for not selling OS X and Linux as alternatives, or at the OEMs for not giving you more choices?

      I think MS in and of itself is doing a pretty decent job at not only offering choices at initial purchase, but at offering the ability to change that choice should you decide you want more. But it's not their job to sell their competitors' products. That's the OEM's job. And quite frankly, the OEMs are indeed offering more choices than ever before. The move towards more choice is slow, for sure, but they are in this for profit, and they have to be sure a profit is to be made by offering other choices.
      Michael Kelly
      • No Choice

        What I'm getting at, is that your idea of choice, is not in fact choice. Vista versions
        are exactly the same with some things switched off. It allows them to fake you out
        and buy a "premium" version, for roughly twice the price of OSX.

        What I'm getting at, is that hardware doesn't matter, and never did. Hardware is
        the commodity, software is not. Choice between hardware is nothing more than a
        logo swap if the "brain" stays the same. On the PC platform, the brain always stays
        the same.

        So hooray! You get to buy a Dell. What is it that Dell "recommends" oh yeah, that's
        Windows. Or you could buy a HP, what OS do they recommend again? Windows as
        well? Acer, Levono, Gateway, Toshiba, Sony? Windows, Windows, Windows,
        Windows, Windows. Are you beginning to see a pattern? You want to tell me again
        about your abundant choices. Open architecture is the problem, not the solution.
        If you want to talk about your Linux choice, please understand it to be a gift from
        your community, not a gift from Microsoft. It remains anathema to the MS "one-
        platform" business model. They've tried to kill it twice. These are the guys you
        write cheques to.

        Buy one of a dozen Apple boxes, and run Windows, Unix, Linux and OSX. Buy an
        Apple and endorse free market competition, not fake intra-platform competition.
        While you're at it, endorse real innovation, and the incubation of new and
        divergent tech companies. Support open market choice between different things,
        competing things, not some platform centric circle jerk. Support the OS that Vista
        is based on. Support the music player that Zune is based on. Try a walk outside
        your walled city and see what the rest of the world looks like.

        Dell and HP and Levono don't get OSX because they don't deserve it. They're not
        technologists. They make toasters and their brains have atrophied. You don't give
        the keys to the house to a carnival barker. They make poor custodians.
        Harry Bardal
        • Deserve?

          You say, "Dell and HP and Levono don't get OSX because they don't deserve it." The reality is they can't get it because Apple won't allow it. Apple wants to control all the hardware that runs OSX. Hey, I'd buy OSX for my Dell if Apple would permit it. So, I'm puzzled how you can think that buying a Mac supports choice and free market competition. Please, do a scientific survey of how many people exist on this planet who purchased an Apple computer but do not run some Apple OS on it. My money is on "< 1/10 of 1%".
          bmgoodman
          • Of Course Not

            Of course they won't allow it. It's called quality control. Because Microsoft was
            dumb enough to license broadly, they got all your money. But what do they do for
            an encore when the new choice is one between computing experiences. Or
            perhaps you see Windows as a cradle to grave OS? That's unfortunate.

            You folks fail to understand that to talk about the psudo-market of "platform" has
            nothing to do with the open market or open market competition. The open market
            is defined by the space between the platforms, not any one to the exclusion of
            others. Apple IN NO WAY curtails competition. I don't even have to bring up a
            certain antitrust suit for this to be obvious. Apple, in fact, REPRESENTS
            competition. Broad licensing is the thing that has shriveled technical innovation.
            Broad support of fake choice by suckers has led us to near technical stagnation.
            It's a nation of shopaholics, more proud of their cash back coupons, than their
            productivity.

            Hardware competition is a absolutely vapid thing to focus on. It's like comparing
            different plastic spoons at Wall Mart. Competition between software, and
            specifically operating systems is the only competition that matters. Microsoft has
            done everything it can to make it not matter, multiple fake Vistas being just one,
            but a truly free market has it's own strengths over fake markets. The open market
            is picking up steam again. I'll invest in Apple over MS thanks.
            Harry Bardal
        • This seems to be the key point here

          ---What I'm getting at, is that your idea of choice, is not in fact choice. Vista versions are exactly the same with some things switched off. It allows them to fake you out and buy a "premium" version, for roughly twice the price of OSX.---

          This is what I find confusing about all the chest thumping and trumpeting of the marvelous choices Vista offers. Apple offers you full functionality for a low price. Vista seems to offer full functionality at a higher price, then several iterations of the same thing lacking more and more functionality as the price plummets towards Apple's.

          This is something to be happy about?
          tic swayback
      • No Choice

        Your idea of choice, is not choice. All PC OEM's "recommend" Windows. How is this
        choice. Linux is anathema to the MS "one platform" business model. They have
        tried to kill it twice. These are the folks you white cheques to.

        HP, Levono or Dell don't get OSX because they don't deserve it. They are not
        technologists. They are toaster salesmen who's brains have atrophied. They are ill
        equipped to act as custodians of sophisticated software.

        While I can choose between XP, Vista, Unix, Linux, and OSX, you get to choose
        between logos, fans, chrome fittings, and cheap Chinese motherboards.
        Harry Bardal