Microsoft’s New Ad

I’m sitting here watching the Stanley Cup finals (Go Pens!), and I just saw a new Microsoft ad, in the same series as the one with Lauren. I missed the girl’s name–it was something foreign and politically correct–but she went to the store and said she was looking for a good video editing laptop for less than $2,000. There was one Mac that made the price cutoff, and it had less RAM (only 2 GB) than a comparably priced PC.

I have two main issues here:

  1. For video editing, what I’ve heard is that Mac OS X is a LOT better than Windows Vista. That sounds reasonable to me–I’ll confess I don’t have any firsthand experience. And if the only issue the girl has is a few GB of RAM…I’m not sure that’s decisive. Further reading here and here.
  2. Note the lack of Linux. I’m not even sure I’m outraged–I’ve also heard that video editing is Linux’s Achilles’ Heel–and maybe this is one of those times were Linux is legitimately not the best option. But it’s also a very conscientious point on the part of Microsoft: mentioning Linux–however negatively–would expose the name to people who’ve never heard of it, and it would also legitimize it as a valid choice of OS. (Eh, guess I am outraged).

Think about it: the average hockey fan does not read techy magazines and blogs, does not care about the freedom of his software, has misguided notions about security and performance, and assumes that if there’s anything “new” he should know about, he’ll hear about it. Quite frankly, I don’t blame him. And from a marketing standpoint, Microsoft is right to avoid it. The mere use of the word “Linux” would make a few people wonder what it was, do some research, and–at best–convert, or at least realize that Windows is not the only solution for their PC.

That’s not all though. I have a sticker on the lid of my laptop that says “Ubuntu: Linux for Human Beings” with the Circle of Friends logo. I’m sure a few people have seen it, and it may’ve been their first exposure to Linux. But seeing a random sticker on someone’s laptop–especially if they’re a geek like me–isn’t the most inspiring reference. People will probably assume that it’s something that’s not meant for them, much like esoteric three-letter vacation destination abbreviations on the back of cars: a reference designed for the “in” group (yes, we know OBX, but MDI? BB? SWH?)*.

But if Microsoft said “Linux” on the television, and put it in the same category as Apple, maker of the sexiest laptops on the market*…Linux is something real, it’s something major, and it’s something you should learn about. We’ll know Linux adoption is really making progress when Microsoft gets more proactive about shooting it down. I can’t wait.

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*That would be Mount Desert Island, Bethany Beach and Southwest Harbor.

**[citation needed] I really like Thinkpads right now.

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One Response to “Microsoft’s New Ad”

  1. Rob says:

    I worked in Hollywood for SGI during the days of Jurassic Park fame. The only tools we used then were Unix and Apple. That is still true today and some of that evidence is seen in the multitude of TV show scenes where you see a Mac notebook used by some of the actors. It’s all the writers and technical staff know so it gets written in.

    The most used writing and editing tools are on a Mac. All the high end stuff only runs on Unix. Things like Maya and Shake are now available on Windows but this is years later and doesn’t touch the surface of what is available on ‘nix.

    There are a lot of “video editors” in the world who don’t have any money but call themselves “directors” and “producers” (see YouTube). If they had the cash, they’d all have Macs running their software.

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