IE8 marketing: MS takes the low road

IE8 marketing: MS takes the low road

Summary: Microsoft's current Internet Explorer 8 marketing push continues to leave a bad lingering aftertaste.

TOPICS: Browser

Take a quick tour around browser vendors' websites and you'll see them appealing to potential users with words like "passion", "difference", "speed" and "extensible". It's typical happy fluffy marketing speak.

Then there is Microsoft. The Internet Explorer 8 home page itself sprouts the usual marketing talk, but there is a promotion for, a site where the gist is that if you download IE8, eight hungry Americans get a meal.

It's a good cause, it's a good idea — yet something didn't sit quite well with me. In retrospect it was the thought that I wasn't going to download and use IE8 anyway (especially as I have a Mac); yet I felt incredibly guilty not downloading IE8. I was faced with a choice: leave the page and have someone go hungry, or download a program I can't and will never run.

In the hopes that these donations are being based on download count and not on IE8 phoning home, I downloaded the file and then deleted it.

The whole experience felt dirty and wrong. I was being morally bribed into downloading an internet browser. The value pitch of the browser wasn't in improving an experience, it was emotionally blackmailing me and sending me on a guilt trip. But I couldn't put a finger on exactly what it was, it was like in The Castle and "the vibe".

Then I saw this argument on Twitter from a Microsoft employee: "Using FF or Chrome on Windows takes eight meals away from the needy."

Not the best way to express your company's message.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/

That comment snapped me from blackmailed to outraged. Read between the lines there and Microsoft is trying to tell the world that using a non-Microsoft browser is responsible for the ills of the world. It's not a good look, and does not reflect very well on Redmond at all.

With guilt-ridden blackmail taken care of, yesterday Microsoft moved to bribery and insults. Essentially a contest for US$10,000, the idea undoes itself with phrases such as "We've buried $10,000 somewhere on the internet ... you'll never find it using boring Safari. (So get rid of it, or get lost.)"

I chose to "get lost" and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of closing the browser tab. The readers over at Gizmodo came up with a list of insults for all the other browsers and state that overriding the user-agent string in the browser will fake the page out.

Taking another look at these experiences with IE8 promotions, they are both at their core, good ideas. Feeding the needy and giving users a chance to win cash are great ways to promote a product, but while the idea is fine, the execution is sorely lacking.

The contest is another attempt at Microsoft trying to look modern and talk to the cool kids, but failing abysmally and just making it harder for itself next time. There is being edgy, and then there is just plain insulting.

Similarly for the browserforthebetter site, it was simply distasteful and could have been done very successfully in a much better way. Microsoft's marketing department really needs to wake up to itself or get lost.

Topic: Browser


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Add it to the list!

    Just add this gutter trash from MS to a growing list that includes "Get the Facts", not providing the promised extras and specials for Vista Ultimate and myriad other ethic breaches!
  • Do what you want

    Ultimately your decision to do either, download a browser or donate to charity shouldn't be tied together.

    If you want to try out a browser, then do it.

    If you want to donate to charity then do it.

    Don't stress about it.
  • Agreed

    Microsoft continues to stink more each day that passes. I can't agree more with you.
  • IE 8

    I have installed IE 8 twice over a period of several months. Both times it created data base access problems with my accounting package
    Reinstallation of IE 7 fixed the problem (with help from other battered & brused users).
    Have accidently included IE8 in the MS updates & - data base access again crippled!
  • IE8 Looks good but limited

    I called it a day for the IE family a while back. While IE8 is technically ok.

    IE8 lacks the ability to run on different platforms such as linux, solaris, BSD, UNIX, Mac etc. IE8 can't even run on the windows 9x family of OS's.

    I find it easier to migrate to different OS if the software is consistent.
  • IE8 so slooooooooooooooow

    I upgraded to test it out, and the whole computer felt like a 286! Now it's not the latest and greatest, but it is adequate and was too sloe with IE8 on board - even when I wasn't using a browser. Bye, bye IE8 - hello FireFox 3.5!
  • Netbooks are for cheap tards

    IE8 is by far the fastest browser I've ever seen released by Microsoft, it is far from slow. IE7 is slow. IE6 can chug. The only thing slow about IE8 is its loadup time, IF you have mods installed.

    IE8 is my favourite browser in the line, however due to a lack of customisability, I will continue using FireFox (despite the fact that FF3 seems to get SLOWER with every f***ing update, and my FF2 is no longer supported) - without NoScript, IE will never win me over.

    As for the OP, I don't see any insulting comments on the tengrand comp, and I'm viewing it on FireFox. Furthermore, how is it an insult, calling Safari "boring"? You have Mac v PC ads DIRECTLY ripping on PCs, and you have a MS competition site recognising your browser and telling you "Hey, this competition is only for people with OUR browser". Cry less.