"Mother and Son" Microsoft Commercial

Hidden Message

Gee RanasinhaAdvertising, Marketing

The advertising battle between Microsoft and Apple moved up a gear recently, with Redmond’s latest campaign to encourage consumers to buy Windows.

In the ads, that you can see here, various ‘real people’ are filmed documentary-style going through the process of buying a PC. The subjects are shown weighing up the pros and cons of Windows-driven hardware against Macs. In the end the subject walks away with a Windows machine, and explains their purchasing decision to the camera based upon the price of the machine when compared to a Mac.

Doesn’t this seem a little weird?

Microsoft is a software company. OK, they make hardware in the form of computer peripherals and the XBOX, but they don’t make computers. Third-party hardware manufacturers buy and install their software and resell the result.

Apple is a hardware company that, in order to sell their hardware, have chosen to also manufacture software in order to better control the user experience.

So, from a business value communication standpoint, we have a software company basing their campaign on how cheap the third-party host hardware is. There is no messaging about Windows versus the Mac OS X operating system. It’s just a straight features vs. price comparison. The rationale is that it’s all about the hardware, and that the choice of OS doesn’t matter.

In which case, why not go the whole hog and buy a PC running Linux? Linux is free, reliable (90% of the web’s servers run Linux) and, with distributions such as Ubuntu, very user-friendly.

Microsoft’s message seems to be to buy a Sony Vaio, or buy an HP HDX16. Yes, these PCs have Windows on them, but they could just as well have something else. And if they did, the validity of the ad’s argument would still hold true. Even more in fact, since the machine would be even cheaper.

So where’s the value message?