Microsoft’s New Advertising Tactic: Macs Cost Too Much

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Microsoft on Thursday launched a new series of ads created by its agency, Crispin + Porter + Bogusky, in which it gave volunteers budgets ranging between US$700 and $2,000 and told them to find a computer that fit their needs. If they could find it, they could keep it, and, of course, the final purchase always involved a Windows machine.

According to the Associated Press, the agency posed as a market research firm looking for volunteers to discuss laptop purchasing decisions. Their first recruit, named Lauren, says she's looking for a laptop with a 17-inch screen and a "comfortable" keyboard for under $1,000, according to the 60-second debut ad. She enters an Apple store but leaves dejected, since all she can purchase with $1,000 is a MacBook, which has a 13-inch screen. "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person," she says, noting that she'd have to double her budget to buy a Mac laptop that fit her criteria.

Lauren eventually found what she was looking for at Best Buy, where she scored a Windows laptop for $699. AppleInsider checked the specs of her purchase and found that "it lacks fast wireless 802.11n, fast Gigabit Ethernet, digital audio inputs and outputs, weighs 7.75 pounds, and only features the screen resolution of Apple's 15" notebooks: 1440 by 900. Technically, it is a 17" notebook in terms of size, but it doesn't have the 17" resolution of Apple's MacBook Pro, which is 1920 by 1200." Lauren never discusses hardware or software specs in the commercial, focusing instead on overall look and feel and the keyboard.

Lauren and her new laptop

Microsoft told the AP reporter that none of the 10 people filmed for the new commercials chose a Mac, and none of them knew they were going to appear in a Microsoft ad until after they were done shopping.


Lee Dronick

Then with the money she saved she went and bought necessary software that cost more than the installed iLife and stuff bundled with the Mac she should have bought. How cool is that?

Actual Reality

yea, with all that left over cash (plus an extra $100) she can buy office!


I’ll not be in that commercial.

My new Mac Pro arrives today. $2400. Same as I paid for my G4 seven years ago.

Why is Microsoft attacking Apple for it’s hardware prices? It’s not like Microsoft makes hardware.

And we should be suspect of the intelligence of anyone buying a 17” laptop for $700. Because with the margin of creation, it cost about $330 to make.

Anybody willing to bet their data on a $330 laptop?


And with that almost 8 pound brick she bought, she no longer needs to go to weight lifting class anymore, congratulations! Oh were so impressed MS, NOT!!!!


Quality over quantity. I’d much rather pay a bit more for a superior operating system than anything from Redmond.

Also keep in mind Macs last much longer than our PC counterparts. How long with it take that lady who bought her $700 laptop to buy a new one? Couple years?


You know guys, as much as I think Micro$quish wants to prolong the Dark Age of the OS, these are well done ads.

Take a note—this is what many Average Joe and Jane’s look for in computers. I discovered this back in the 90’s when helping friends buy computers.

MOST people still don’t understand anything about 802.11n. Heck many people I WORK WITH still don’t understand the difference between a document and an application. (as evidenced by the question—“Where did you save it?” “I saved it in Word.”)

This is a well done ad showing off how MANY MANY people computer shop. COmputers are appliances anymore and most think they are essentially the same. After the Megahertz wars of the 90’s that IS on thing people have been “taught” is important. (Wrongly or rightly, that’s the facts…. Jack)

Just a few cents from wayyy too early in the morning in Alaska


So whats new here?

Its the same reason people who argue that imported cars are of higher quality.  They can’t detect value or quality.  They rely on looks and what other people tell them.

Americans are superficial idiots.  The vast majority equate cost=value or looks=value and cannot think in multiple dimensions.


That said, it’s a very effective ad in today’s economic malaise.

Actual Reality

ok, here’s what i cannot wrap my head around:

microsoft is spending so much money attacking apple, hasn’t anyone told them that mac users are a viable market for windows?

why don’t they spend the time they’re wasting trying to keep people from buying macs trying to get them to use windows on their macs instead??

they’re gonna make the same amount (actually they might make a little bit more) if they can get some mac users to use windows as well…

there are many, MANY mac users i know who don’t even realize they can run windows on their mac…

now THAT’s just bad marketing on microsoft’s part…

MacWorld Reader

Check out the fruit machine on the front page of the New York Times - - seems to be rigged.

MacWorld Reader

... and they seem to have forgotten the Anti-Virus software!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I have to say this… Lauren has a perfect top tooth smile, and that’s worth a lot. Why she would want a 17” laptop is beyond me. I doubt she has that much lap.


I’ve been looking at a lot of laptops lately, and pretty much any non-Apple item I’ve seen under $2000 at the big box stores feels very cheap to me. Just go around clicking the “mouse” buttons on the laptops and you’ll see what I mean. They feel like a component sourced from a spinner rack at the 7-11. If that one component is that cheap, what else did they do to save cost?

And I would be expecting Lauren to replace that faux 17-incher in less than 18 months. She’d keep the Mac for at least twice that long.


Sadly, what AKjohn writes is oh so very true: almost all of the computer-buying public have no idea of what they are buying and so look only at obvious comparison points (size of screen, as opposed to screen resolution, for example) and are quite incapable of making a reasoned choice. That Windows often crashes, that the computer then freezes, that finding one’s way around is clunky—that’s all considered to be normal, for that is what happens with their friend, who already own computers (with Windows, of course). They simply do not believe that MacOS X is more stable and easier to use, or that the built-in apps are of superior quality (they can, after all, get a free copy of PhotoShop, and everyone knows that that’s the thing you really need to get rid of the red eyes in baby’s latest pic?). Mind you, if after several years they finally dare to listen and to make the step to Macintosh, they are almost dumbstruck at the ease of use and reliability. I’ve experienced this on numerous occasions with friends who have struggled for years with Windows-base machines and have finally made the “switch.”


Dear Interlocutors:  Your comments, supra, are for the most part well taken, but there is one thing that isn’t being said.  Microsoft isn’t comparing apples to apples.  Hasn’t anyone gone to HP’s website to see exactly what it is selling for $700.00 with a 17 inch screen.  To start, that HP has a previous generation Intel Core Duo CPU, DDR2 RAM, Intel Integrated graphics, and an ordinary LCD monitor, and at last and most horrific, it runs Windows Vista.  Compare that to the 17” MacBook Pro:  Fast, 64 bit capable Intel Core 2 Duo CPU; DDR3 RAM with 1066 MHz frontside bus; NVIDIA 9400M graphics, which by itself offer five times the performance of the graphics in the HP, and a discreet NVIDIA 9600 GT graphics chip; unibody construction; and edge to edge 17” LED monitor; and lastly but hardly least, Mac OS X Leopard, which is vastly superior to Vista.  What Microsoft is doing is comparing computers vastly inferior computers—and Microsoft conducts this kind of specious comparison across the entire line of Macs—with Macs.  It is making a false comparison by saying that this PC equals the Mac, which it does not, and the Mac has a much higher price.  These difference are not irrelevant.  They make a tremendous difference in performance.  The $700.00 HP can’t do graphics tasks that the 17” MacBook Pro can easily and quickly compute.  Thus, Microsoft’s comparisons are utterly false and misleading.  In other words, Microsoft is running true to form: it’s lying.

When you compare a comparably configured Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, or other PC, if there exist a comparable PC, with its Mac counterpart, the Mac is no more than slightly more expensive, or it costs the same or even less.  Don’t less Microsoft obfuscate the facts with misleading comparison.  Get the word out.


I think that it is funny how Microsoft ahas to sell someone elses product because they can not sell their own.

Lee Dronick

I think that it is funny how Microsoft ahas to sell someone elses product because they can not sell their own.

Well MicroSoft has to sell someone else’s PC in order to sell their OS. I guess they could compare the features and interface of OSX and Vista/Windows 7


@Nemo - I always assumed you were an attorney, and accusing Microsoft of lying is disingenuous at best and libelous at worst!

The subject stated her requirements. Nice keyboard (subjective) and a 17-inch screen (objective). She couldn’t get that at the Apple store for USD 1000. That’s not a lie.

She didn’t say she wanted wireless, she didn’t say she wanted/needed 64-bit, etc, etc. She wanted a machine with a big screen and didn’t care about the rest. She got that in her HP.

If she’s a student and needs a machine to write papers and send e-mail, then she doesn’t need wizzy graphics processing or a particularly fast, more up-to-date CPU. What she has is perfectly fine for her.

What Microsoft is selling is not price exactly, (but if that’s what you take away, that OK too.) but choice. I cannot get a 17-inch screen from Apple without getting all the rest.

So no, I think they aren’t lying.

Finally to the rest of you who say that she’ll have to replace it sooner than a Mac, I challenge that notion. We have several cheapo windows boxes (And G3 and earlier PPC Macs running classic) that we use nearly everyday. You don’t have to update that Windows 98 PC if you don’t want to, but it’s must less expensive than buying a new Mac. I will accede however, that if she wants that laptop to last a long time she’ll have to take better care of it than if it were a Mac. But if it were a Mac it would have cost more and therefor you might expect a longer life.


It is entirely possible she didn’t say she needed wireless because she took it for granted.  However, she probably didn’t need 802.11n wireless - something older and slower (did the laptop at least come with g?) was probably good enough for her.

Also, as someone else noted, all 17” screens are not made the same.  Did she want 17” because she assumed all 17” screens have the same resolution, or did she want it because she has poor eyesight and wanted to be able to make everything look bigger?  If the latter, then perhaps getting a lower resolution 17” is better for her (although I don’t know if the difference would be significant enough to allow her to use native resolution).  If the former, then she made a big mistake.  So whether or not that 17” screen fit her real need (versus stated need) is unclear.

That said, in this day and age there are still plenty of people who aren’t even remotely aware enough to compare operating systems, who assume that OSes are just the means to run the apps they want to use, and nothing more (or they don’t know how to do anything more with it than that).


Although I agree, that doesn’t mean MS was lying.  However, they weren’t revealing the whole truth, only just enough to show things in their favor, which of course is how advertising works.

deasys which it gave volunteers budgets ranging between US$700 and $2,000 and told them to find a computer that fit their needs

Nonsense—she’s an actress, people!:

This is yet more of the traditional dishonesty from Monkeyboy and his minions…


Oww!  Where can I sign up to be in those ads too?  I need to get me a Hackintosh:P

Acer anyone? haha!


I had a conundrum, I needed a small light notebook for my travels, cheap enough for it not to be a disaster if it gets dropped or stolen. Unfortunately I’m a Mac User, so this computer does not exist.


To my left is a CTO Mac Pro 8 core Harpertown based tower running 10.5.6, it cost a lot of money.

To my right is a Medion Akoya mini Intel Atom based 10” netbook (running 10.5.6), it cost me ?179 from a local supermarket.

I now now have what what I was looking for, cheap, light, and does the job very nicely.

So, on this occasion, Macs did indeed cost too much.


Dear Ctopher:  You’re right.  My teacher taught me better than to spring the unvarnished truth, as I did supra.  You see what Microsoft is doing with it latest ads is an especially sophisticated kind of deception.  It is misleading.  To mislead means to:  cause (someone) to have a wrong idea or impression about someone or something : the government misled the public about the road’s environmental.  American Oxford English Dictionary.  The art of misleading is to state the facts or part of the relevant facts but without context, which is what Microsoft does by suggesting that you can or even should compare a MacBook Pro with the $699.00 HP “17 inch notebook. 

The context is that the 17” MacBook Pro is the best in class.  You can do whatever needs to be done on a notebook and can do it more elegantly and intuitively on the MacBook Pro than you can on even the high-end HP 17” notebook, which costs considerably more than $699.00.  So the correct context is pretty much what you said, supra, and an honest Microsoft ad would go something like this: 

“The HP computer that you, Lauren, bought can’t do much more than basic tasks.  It is not even as powerful as Apple’s least sophisticated notebook computer, the White MacBook, which costs $999.99.  So you’d better be certain that your needs and wants shall remain of the most modest dimensions, because your HP has in it a CPU and a graphics processor that approximates what Apple had in its notebooks, when its first introduced Intel-based Macs some, I think, three years ago. 

“However, if you think that you might want to even modest video editing, you’ll have bump up to the HP HDX18t, which, when tricked out to get as close to the standard configuration of the 17” MacBook Pro as possible, costs $2,395.99.  And then you still won’t have the MacBook Pro’s 17” LED screen or the eight hours of battery life of the MacBook Pro.  And the HDX18t weighs in at 8.82 versus the MacBook Pro’s 6.6, and that’s before you add the bigger battery in a vain effort to comes close to the Pro’s up to eight hours of battery life.  You’ll also have to forgo the much praised Apple’s iLife apps, do without the superior OS X, and will have to suffer the misery that is Vista.

“So, Lauren, except for the 17” screen, we honestly should be comparing your new HP to the White MacBook.  But it can’t even measure up to the White MacBook in terms of raw CPU and GPU horsepower, as its components are two to three years out of date, nor can its much criticized Vista come close to OS X and its auxiliary apps.”

So instead of calling Microsoft a liar, Ctopher, you are right in that I should have used more sophisticated language, such as mendacity from the latin mendacitas or offered the comical hoodwink or, perhaps, the more moderate misinform, but, after consulting my dictionary, all of them, like mislead, are simply synonyms for lying, so I think that I will stick with it.


That’s right, they cost more.

Cheap != good.


Beware the inevitable onslaught of astroturfists that are no doubt coming as part of this new ad campaign from micro$oft.


So Apple comes out with a new “Hi, I’m an Apple” ad.  In it PC brags about how little he cost while flashing his ‘savings”, but then Mac starts asking him about this, that and the other thing Apples come with standard that PC will need to spend more money to get.  By the end of the ad, PC’s ‘savings” are gone, as is his wallet, watch, coat, etc…..

Lee Dronick

So Apple comes out with a new ?Hi, I?m an Apple? ad.? In it PC brags about how little he cost while flashing his ?savings?, but then Mac starts asking him about this, that and the other thing Apples come with standard that PC will need to spend more money to get.? By the end of the ad, PC?s ?savings? are gone, as is his wallet, watch, coat, etc?..

PC is wearing a green scarf and red haired wig with tufts pulled out, he is stooped over, obviously in pain.

Mac - What’s the matter PC?

PC - Oh this 17” notebook is making me pull my hair out. It isn’t powerful to do the video work I wanted to do and monitor resolution isn’t all that good. Furthermore it keeps asking me about drivers, but I already have a driver’s license and own an auto. Also it is so heavy it is hurting my back. Then to make matters worse, the money I saved from buying a Mac went purchasing needed software; I actually spent more money on software than I did on the notebook and much of it doesn’t run on this computer.

Mac - I am sorry PC, do you want to borrow my MacBook?

PC - No, I got the PC I want.


Finally to the rest of you who say that she?ll have to replace it sooner than a Mac, I challenge that notion. We have several cheapo windows boxes (And G3 and earlier PPC Macs running classic) that we use nearly everyday. You don?t have to update that Windows 98 PC if you don?t want to, but it?s must less expensive than buying a new Mac. I will accede however, that if she wants that laptop to last a long time she?ll have to take better care of it than if it were a Mac. But if it were a Mac it would have cost more and therefor you might expect a longer life.

Yes, if you didn’t have to update an older crappy PC with a newer version of Windows, of course it would last longer.  Try putting Windows Vista on it.  Won’t happen.  At least I know that I can install future releases of OS X on new Mac for several years to come and I would much rather pay for peace of mind knowing that I will not have a machine that does not meet minimum system requirements in two years.


And it is totally an acting job…did you see the guy walking by the front of the store.  It was like “Ok…act like you are walking in to the store and then stop…turn around and then act like you just left the store…we will just edit it the video…not very well.”

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