Building Windows, not walls

Building Windows, not walls

Summary: I don't care who Microsoft ad agency Crispin Porter puts in the starring role along with Chairman Bill Gates in its $300+ million campaign. But I am intrigued about what kind of messaging Crispin and Microsoft think will reinvigorate Vista's image and make Microsoft less of an Apple chump.


The Wall Street Journal is the second publication to report that Microsoft's soon-to-be-launched coolness campaign will use the slogan "Windows Not Walls" as its rallying cry. (Here's the first report in AdWeek citing that same slogan.)

I don't care who ad agency Crispin Porter puts in the starring role along with Chairman Bill Gates in its $300+ million campaign. Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Hillary, Michael Phelps. But I am intrigued about what kind of messaging Crispin and Microsoft think will reinvigorate Vista's Windows' image and make Microsoft less of an Apple chump.

Here are some of the themes I'm betting we'll see in whatever kind of campaign goes live on September 4:

  • Windows is everywhere. It's on your PC, your mobile device and in the cloud. (It's not really on your Xbox or your Zune, but that probably won't stop the ad folks from designing these into the picture, as well. Update: Technically, you can make the case that Windows is inside the Xbox, as's Robert McLaws reminded me.)
  • Because Windows is everywhere, you don't need to be tethered to your desk. You can do Windows computing at the beach, on a boat, in the tub or on a moat. (Cue, Dr. Seuss.)
  • Windows is not a closed ecosystem. There are hundreds of PC and phone makers who build Windows-centric devices. There are developers embedding Windows Live programming interfaces into their programs and services. (Don't expect any terms as uncool as "API" or "ecosystem" to rear their heads in this ad campaign, though. I'm doubtful we'll see any direct mentions of Apple, either. That's just not the Microsoft way.)

Just for fun, I googled "Windows, Not Walls" to see what came up. Reference No. 1 was an abstract of an educational paper entitled, "Writing Assignments as Windows, Not Walls: Enlivening Unboundedness through Boundaries." There were a few refernces to Dan Fogelberg's eighth album, "Windows and Walls." And there were lots of ads for home construction companies that do windows but not walls (or both windows and walls). Hmm. Not a lot of inspiration there....

I wonder whether the the Empire will strike back? Will Microsoft take the high but boring road and simply produce another Bill-Gates-centric spoof video? Will there be a theme song? An action figure? Free coupons for Live Search Cashback bucks? A chance to guest blog on "Engineering Windows 7"?

What are you expecting Microsoft to as part of its upcoming "Windows, Not Walls"campaign?

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Building Windows, not walls

    Hooray for ZDNet duplication! Now we only need 5 more articles about this subject which will coincide with ZDNet agenda.

    [i]will reinvigorate Vista?s image and make Microsoft less of an Apple chump.[/i]

    As of lately the chump has been Apple with their failures. This ad is going to do wonders for Microsoft and Vista. Two of the most well known figures in their fields will be appearing in commercials together. Both have a huge following and fanbase. You can bet this is going to increase sales for Microsoft Windows Vista. Seinfeld has always been a comedic genius so we are all going to laugh. I really can't wait to see what the commercials are.

    Its going to go something like this"
    JS: What is the deal with Vista?
    BG: Its the most technically advanced Windows operating system to date. With increased security, stability, scalability, and reliability its easy to see why people are choosing it over the competition.
    JS: Who are these people that use Vista?
    BG: Everyone! Its on every desktop.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Oh, man thanks for the laugh.

      Bill Gates has a fan base? Sorry, Star Trek conventions don't
      • The millions who've benefited...

        ..from the Gates foundation probably do though.
        Sleeper Service
        • Maybe

          But they aren't going to be watching the ads and deciding whether
          or not to buy Vista PCs, are they?

          By the way, look up non-sequitir in the dictionary.
          • Of course they're not...

            ...because none of them have televisions or the ability to buy PCs.

            Sleeper Service
          • Hey, a question for you

            Are you and mdemuth Siamese twins that share the same brain?
          • I got a question for you

            Are you and Kid Icarus and James Quinn and msalzberg and frgough and GoPower and Arm. A. Geddon (Intellihence, Beyond the Vista a Leopard is stalking, and numerous other aliases), itguy08, etc. Siamese octuplets that share the same brain?

            I've always found it quite ironic, given the sheer volume of ABMers on ZDNet, whenever one of those ABMers dare suggest that 2 non ABMers constitute some kind of coordinated Microsoft love-fest. :)
          • @NonZealot

            Me, an ABMer? Now where did you get that from. Need a bit a evidence? How about from...


            Read the "hmm. my opinion." post about half way down and especially the "re: Excellent" one. :-) Don't forget to read my other ones too.


            Btw, I think you'd have known I'm more of a linux guy by now. One more thing, thanks for the mention. :-)
            Arm A. Geddon
          • NZ I did forget to say...

            there's only one me. I'm the one and only. ;-) You're not getting paranoid too are you? I do however use different user names at other sites but my personality like here(ZDNet) is always the same.
            Arm A. Geddon
          • Arm. A. Geddon: My sincere apologies then

            My mistake, I'll admit it when I'm wrong. Sorry!
          • @NZ about apologies

            Thanks!! But there was no need. Maybe some mistake my dry humour for criticism. Yes, I do have more fun with Microsoft but you'll never find any of my posts to say, "I hate Microsoft Windows, I hate Bill Gates, etc." Believe me, I've been posting here at ZDNet since 2000. However, I have changed my user name here a few times but have used Arm. A. Geddon for about the last 4 years.

            Thought I'd throw out another post. Read the "WTH?" from:


            I would have linked the actual post but I think you know what that's like. lol
            Arm A. Geddon
          • No, Userama...

            ...unlike you I can form my own opinions. :)
            Sleeper Service
          • non-sequitir?

            No results found for non-sequitir.
            Did you mean nonsuit (in dictionary) or Non-sequitir (in encyclopedia)?

            Dictionary suggestions:
            NON SEQ
            non seq
            non seq.
            non liquet
            non sequitur
            Encyclopedia suggestions:
            Non Sequitur
            Non sequitor
            Non sequitur

            I guess I need a better dictionary!!!
      • I would bet

        That the millions of people who have benefited by working at Ms, invested in MS, or use the MS tool set to make great living are fans of Bill Gates.
        I know that people who hate America and cannot stand to see a company making money are not fans; they are called jealous or socialists.
        High Plains
    • Re: increased security, stability, scalability, and reliability

      Can't you come up with anything new to say in your commercial posts?

      Oh, and yeah there will be lots of laughs, mostly at the "has-beens" of society. Windows and Seinfeld will go nicely together as they lead each other further into obscurity....

      I can't wait for this train wreck to happen and can't wait to see the Mac vs. PC ads after that. MS is gonna get tore up.
      Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
      • Can't you come up with...

        ...any original comments?

        Aside from ones that get deleted for profanity that is.
        Sleeper Service
        • Awwwww look at that....

          do you have some commercial material you would like to share with us too little one?

          Too bad you don't know what your talking about. I didn't use any profanity in my posts that got deleted. NZ seems to feel a little frightened when confronted with the truth by hitting the "Alert moderator to an offensive message". Even funnier is ZDnet's willingness to delete things without even reading what they said, either that or they are nice and chummy with NZ. I wouldn't even doubt that this one get removed either....guess we'll have to wait and see.

          I think you're a little late to the game and may want to figure out what is going on before you comment on things that you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

          By the way, isn't this the same exact thing you posted to me last time??

          Tsk, tsk...
          Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
          • Don't let it get to you, Kid.

            Sleeper Service
          • Hey, you brought it up,

            and then wrongly accused me of something.
            Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
      • Oh, yeah!

        I too can't wait for those Mac vs. PC "rebuttals". But I'm betting Apple will fire the first shot even before Sept. 4. This is gonna be good!