Microsoft is going on the offensive, the company's public relations chief has boasted in a rather peculiar blog post.
On Monday the company put up an ad attacking VMware for not being cloudy enough, along with a new online campaign for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which takes somewhat-less-satirical potshots at rivals Salesforce.com and Oracle.
To celebrate the opening of these new fronts, Frank Shaw posted a screed explaining that "those not 'stuck in the past' [here he links to VMware's site] may have noticed that we've been having some fun and taking a more pointed tone in some of our communications of late".
"You can expect to see us continue to find ways to tell our story, on our own and against our competitors, especially where there is a gap between perception and facts, using ads, tweets, video, infographics, and, we hope, more than a dash of humor," Shaw wrote, sort-of-impishly.
The supposed advent of Microsoft's attacks on its competitors will come as a surprise to those who have observed the company doing much the same for many, many years. Even Shaw notes that the company has "been doing this for a while", and cites 2003-4's 'Get the Facts' campaign as an example.
'Get the Facts' was a classic of what tech observers call a 'fear, uncertainty and doubt' (FUD) campaign. It implied that those running Linux servers could somehow expect to pay as much as 10 times as much as those running Windows Server systems, and resulted in the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordering Microsoft to make its comparison ads a bit less… um, rigged.
So let's see how Microsoft's renewed drive to sort out the "gap between perception and facts" works out.
PS — I've decided to put my FUD accusation to Shaw over Twitter. Looking forward to his response, as I think these tactics are worth debating. On a related note, do bear in mind that Microsoft has no monopoly on trashing the opposition. After all, Apple did the same with its 'I'm a Mac/PC' campaign.