Microsoft Embarrasses Itself with “PC vs. Mac” Web Site

| The Back Page

Now that Apple has pulled the plug on its immensely popular “I’m a Mac” campaign, Microsoft has fired back with a new Web site called “PC vs. Mac: The PC has Blu-ray capability, more software choices, and more!” No, seriously, that’s the name.

When I first sat down to cover this momentous event, I had intended to just write up a quickie news piece and let our readers do the fun bit of deconstructing the whole thing and making mock of Big Redmond. I couldn’t, though. It’s just so bad, so…embarrassing for Microsoft, I couldn’t keep my snarky opinions to myself.

Lets start with the actress Microsoft is using to be the face of the Web site. She is apparently, “Deciding between a PC and a Mac.” She’s really cute, and everything, but her look in this photograph is way more smug than Justin Long ever threw at the camera in his role as “Mac” in Apple’s campaign. That’s just obnoxious!

PC vs. Mac

In any event, let’s look at some of the things MS is trying to sell us. In the title I mentioned above Microsoft is making the ability to play Blu-ray movies a major selling point on a PC. I’ll be the first to tell you I wish Apple would get over its attitude about Blu-ray, because I watch almost all of my TV and movies on a Mac.

So making this a selling point resonates with me, except for the small fact that playing a Blu-ray movie on a PC, while possible, isn’t possible out of the Windows box. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet pointed out that it requires installing a 3rd party Blu-ray player.

I don’t know, maybe that it’s possible makes it a fair enough claim, but it seems shady to me, and when you have 93% of the OS market share on the planet, you shouldn’t feel the need to stoop to shady ad campaigns.

Microsoft’s bullet points are that when it comes to Having Fun, Simplicity, Working Hard, Sharing, Compatibility, and Choice, the world of PC is the bee’s knees. For instance, did you know that you if you buy a Mac you’re limited to two colors, white or silver? Why, with the magical world of PCs you can find just about any color you want!

Never mind, of course, that it was Apple that first offered computes in colors other than beige and black, and never mind that it was the PC world that then (poorly) copied Apple.

Never mind that my defense of Apple there, too, because that bullet point is just kind of sad. The rest of them are a mixture of half-truths and real facts, with a little FUD thrown in for seasoning.

For instance, under “Simplicity,” Microsoft says that PCs are, “Intuitive, familiar, and easy to use, PCs do what you want: they just work.”

These are all the kind of things that have precisely drawn Windows users away from the Dark Side, but Microsoft is trying to claim the mantle of “it just works” by simply declaring it to be so. I think that’s the point that made me the most angry, that set me off into snarkyland.

Another fun thing about this page is the stream of tweets Microsoft has looping on the page. That’s right, they loop. They’re tweets from people talking about Windows 7, mostly, but the funny thing is that many of the ones I saw looping are people bitching about the upgrade process.

One read (and I’m quoting these verbatim, bad grammar and punctuation included), “finally upgrade to win7 completed.” Simondbull noted, “So far, Win 7 is running extremley [sic] well.”

Even from people talking up Windows 7, there’s this pervasive air of being surprised that the process didn’t suck, or that it was quick. It’s kind of funny (“It works! Win7 - nice”).

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of positive Windows 7 comments in there, too, but if you’re going to loop them, have someone vet them so that they all stick to the positive thematic refrains that really make your product look good?

Check it out, have fun with it while it’s there. Microsoft’s attempts to fight back against Apple have so far lurched about for a couple of weeks before the company either changes its mind or nixes the campaign.

Popular TMO Stories



If MS follows it’s pattern of the last few years of advertising campaigns, it will yank this one abruptly as soon as there’s much criticism, and try something completely different.

Personally I don’t see the lack of Blu-Ray as a weakness. I’m almost not using the disk drive on my Macs at all now. Being able to play HD movies would not change that.


Blu-Ray. The whole thing is funny. Most Mac users don’t care but Windows users seem to think it’s the best. I guess Mac users and Windows users have very different lives in front of their computers.


This plays into my feelings that MSFT is getting more and more worried about Apple’s increasing market share, especially with regards to mobile computing. The more desperate they become, the more of this type of campaign we will see from MSFT, hoping that something will resonate with the consumer.

The part I liked was that they have a tab called simplicity yet they have all these different flavors of Windows 7 to choose from. Didn’t seem very simple to me.


Personally, I’d love to see Blu-Ray video playback come to Macs as well, but seriously?  The positives for Win 7 are laughable when compared to how they really work.

You want to set up a network printer?  Ok, fine, but you’ll have to create it through the wizard by selecting *local printer*, ‘create a new port’ (of type TCP/IP) and supplying the IP address manually.  That’s simple?

To do the same thing on my Mac, I told it to set up a new *network* printer, and picked it from a list that came up after it searched the network.  *That’s simple.*

Gareth Harris

It is interesting how much MS is distracted by Apple. If I were MS, I would forget about about Apple and concentrate on my bread and butter: multi-PC commercial installations and MS Office. But I guess that MS is under pressure from the public and stockholders to polish up that end user consumer image. As for me, I think they are taking their eye off the ball.

—Meanwhile, I just keep churning out the work using my macpro, macbookpro, iphone and ipad. I don’t even own any Wintel PCs any more.
[oops, slight correction: I have my daughters macbookpro setup to run parallels for a real estate compatibility program]

MS is like gods. I don’t need’em.


MS is like gods. I don?t need?em.

Ironically though I agree with both parts, in some circles you are now EXACTLY twice as likely to get burned at the stake with that statement.


Here comes MS again trying to be hip and cool.  If you have to try to be hip and cool, you’re not hip and cool!

It’s also straight from the Republican playbook.  Look for where you’re weakest and then claim that to be your strength.  If you’re weak on the environment, then start claiming you’re the greenest of all.  If you’re known to be a toady of corporate America, then claim you’re against the bailout that benefited mostly your fatcat banker friends.  If your OS is weak on interface design and ease-of-use then make claim about your OS that “they just work”.

I may vomit.


What jumps at me is that Microsoft is promoting hardware as much as their OS. Is this a nod that bundling the two wasn’t such a terrible idea after all?


Burned at the stake

Will there be marshmallows ?


My favorite part is under the working section where they conveniently fail to mention they make a mac version of office—compatibility not a problem. 

PC easier to use than a Mac?  I didn’t know it started snowing in hell.


MS says that it just works? Ba,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,.........!!!!!!!!!

And when you get a PC that just works, what do you get? A blu-ray player you can’t use, and an operating system that will only boot your machine and give you internet access.
What’s missing?
Mail, chat, calendar, photo’s, music, movies, creative music program, web program, software to run your scanner with, drivers for your printer.

Ah huh, sure Microsoft. They must think people are really, really stupid!


Oh, I so hope that Apple brings back Justin Long and John Hodgman for one more commercial to poke fun at this!!

Roger M

Let’s face it anyone who gives an Apple product a fair chance will find that they are a great product and in many ways much more user friendly than a Windows machine.

I used to be over my brothers house 2 or 3 times a month when they had Windows machines I finally convinced them to try a mac they ended up buying 2 more Macbook Pro’s.  Guess what 1 call in a year which was fixed by doing a archive and install.

Too many advantages to list here and if you want Windows along with your Mac no problem.


What about the fact that Macs run WIndows natively these days (something that’s pointed out all over the place on the web)? Doesn’t that make the whole thing collapse? Unbelievable that they feel the need to do any of this. Seriously. Who do they think they’re fooling at this point? Yawnerrific. smile


I guess some of you missed that this is Windows 7. It also seems that some have not used a pc running windows 7. What is this all about `local printer` & tcp/ip, Windows 7 does all of that automatically. I guess some are forgetting snow leopards problem with HP drivers and losing files in guest mode. And mail, chat, calendar, photo, etc. windows 7 has that for free. it`s called windows live. And now that windows 7 is more secure than snow leopard and selling 10 copies every second. Really who is fooling who? It seem that you all are fooling yourself. Just thought you should know. Now you all can go back to your Mac controlled world while I can go explore my wide OPEN Windows 7 world. I do think that Mac makes great products but they don`t always JUST WORK. I think Mac should be embarrassed using that line. I guess that is why there is a genius bar.



So if MS are doing so well with Windows 7, why do they feel the need to produce this comparison site?


You didn’t mention my personal fave on that site: Microsoft’s claim that IF you CAN find a Mac-compatible version of a software package you use on a PC, you’ll need to RELEARN how to use it.


And try the “Compatibility” search. I entered a few Apple apps, and was directed to similarly-named, but unrelated, companies or apps in the PC world. Completely unrelated. Completely incompatible.

I wonder if Bing is as good a search engine?


As an IT guy I get this question a lot. Here’s what I tell people about Win7
It’s better than XP, but there’s a steep learning curve.
The environment’s very different and a fair amount of software may not run quite right.
It’s better than Vista, but then, so is a dead raccoon.
However I don’t recommend ANY Microsoft product until SP1 which isn’t out yet.
If you are going to have a learning curve and you’re going to have to replace software anyway, try a Mac.


Not quite.  I’m using Win 7 on my work laptop.  It didn’t do “all of that automatically” for either of the network printers here, or my networked printer at home.  My personal laptop, a gen1 MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard, had no such problem.

I’m thrilled to hear that at least in theory, MS finally got that network printer nonsense worked out, but it certainly isn’t bullet proof yet.

Very bad

I was expecting more from Microsoft. The page does not render properly in Safari 5.0.1. The menus at the top and search box are all on top of each other. Also, I agree that the model is really cute. I was expecting a video of her explaining her choice, like the ones Apple had with Justin Long. That at least would have been worth my time. Perhaps if I could figure out how to get Safari on my MacMini to go into that retro “text only” mode to “save bandwidth” (as my download speed is only about 9 MB/s today) I would have been more impressed.

Ross Edwards

Disclosure: I am a Mac guy at home and unfortunately a PC guy at work.

@article, @geoduck, @candTsmac: It’s not so much that people ache to watch blu-ray movies at their computer desks.  It’s that we want BD-R burners standard in our computers (and really there is no excuse for them not to be, at Apple prices) and we want a blu-ray player in, for example, the new Mac Mini, which was designed from the ground up to be a great media player.  Apple is missing the boat on this one.  I should be able to have the new Mac Mini be the one and only box under my TV.  Streaming netflix or media off the network, or for those movies that aren’t streamable that I get on blu-ray in the little red envelope, playable in the Mini’s drive.  Right now that’s not possible.  Fail.  To be fair, MS is missing the boat on this too because they made the Xbox 360-S without a BR drive.

Also, the article is full of it—any PC that ships with a BR drive includes playback software.  And if you add the drive later, it’s not exactly hard to find freeware that will do the job.

@Voice: Something’s wrong with your notebook or with whatever you’re doing on printer setup.  Miketomtom has it correct.  Sorry to hear you are stuck with a kludge, because his way works for everyone else.

@jecrawford: MS runs these ads for the same reason Coca-Cola spends billions on advertising even though they’re already #1 in worldwide sales by an insurmountable margin.  The market leader stays the market leader by continuing to build mindshare and to expand reach.

@the article: True enough, Windows doesn’t “just work” the way OS X does.  That’s MS wishful thinking.  And the reason they chose that woman as their model is because it is difficult to guess exactly what ethnicity she is, so the same ad photograph can run in many languages and will appear familiar and comfortable to the audience.  Companies do this all the time. 

Also, the article misleads by suggesting that “most Macs won’t hook up to a TV without a converter dongle.”  The fact is that at least all Macs have DVI output of some sort, which is signal-compatible with HDMI (and the Mini now simply HAS HDMI).  With a minidisplay-to-HDMI cable, any other Mac can go straight to TV.  Many PCs still have only a VGA out and you can’t connect that AT ALL to most televisions.

And finally, it’s strange that the ad doesn’t spend time on the ONE advantage that Windows PCs undisputably have: Price.  Let’s face it—we love Macs, but they don’t come cheap.





So sad, it’s funny ? comparable to the Gates & Seinfeld laugh riots.

Neil Anderson

Dang, she has nice brown eyes. I think I’m going to go buy a PC. wink

Roger M

Of course they are selling ten copies every second people will do practically anything to get rid of that bomb they call Vista, but the sad fact is that Windows 7 is just a slimmed down slightly tweaked version of Vista.

Yes you could install and run Windows Live but I’d much rather use anything by Google than support the evil empire that gave us Windows Me and Vista and actually charged for it.

As for printer problems Windows Vista led the pack when the vendors refused to write drivers for their older hardware making people purchase new printers to work with Vista.

As for the Genius bar at least Apple offers a way for people to get hands on instruction from someone who is knowledgeable at a location close to them, another term for this is called customer service something Windows seems to think is unimportant.



I do have to say, though, that they’re mostly on-target on four points:

- Games
- Blu-Ray
- running Windows software without VMware/Boot Camp/etc.
- being more familiar for someone who is used to Windows XP or Vista

Other than that, well… it’s Windows. And that smug-looking woman will not actually go out with you or fix your PC if you install Windows 7.


Oh, and there’s one other sad but possibly true point from the MS web site: even if you use iWork and prefer it, you may still need a copy of MS Office or


Vista was universally hated, but it actually had some good security improvements that I’d like to see in Mac OS X, notably full web browser sandboxing and an outgoing firewall. These are also present (and improved) in Windows 7.

As far as I know, the only sandboxed browsers on the Mac are Chrome (which also has process-per-tab!) and IronFox. Safari, sadly, is not (yet, although plug-ins like Flash are I think, which is a good start!). For an outgoing firewall, you need to either use the BSD firewall or get a third-party firewall such as Little Snitch.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account