Microsoft Surface ad fails to Excel at math, according to Apple's Numbers

Posted:
in Mac Software edited May 2014
Less than a month after a Microsoft PR executive dismissed Apple's Pages, Numbers and Keynote productivity software as "watered down imitation apps," the company has erected giant billboards depicting its own Excel failing to add seven numbers correctly on a Surface tablet.

Excel Surface fail


The advertisements (including the one above at Market Street at Sanchez in San Francisco) depict a Surface with a bright blue keyboard displaying an Excel spreadsheet for calculating vacation expenses and presenting them as a pie chart.

The device also displays a photo of Hawaii in a separate window at the same time. "This is not just a laptop," the ad announces, "this is the new Surface. One device for everything in your life.""Helping folks kill time on a tablet is relatively easy. But helping people be productive on a tablet is a little trickier" - Frank Shaw, Microsoft

The ad was presumably approved by Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Communications Frank Shaw, who last month penned a scathing dismissal of Apple's iWork productivity apps for Macs, iCloud and iOS devices after the company announced it would make new versions of its software available for free with new hardware sales.

In his scoffing public tirade, Shaw stated, "Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world's most popular, most powerful productivity software for free," adding that "Apple's decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets [is] not a very big (or very good) deal."

Shaw added, "let's be clear - helping folks kill time on a tablet is relatively easy. But helping people be productive on a tablet is a little trickier," and ended with a jab at the "struggling, lightweight productivity apps" Apple is now offering at no additional cost.

Enhance!

Despite the incredible "power" of Office's productivity, Microsoft's own depiction of its software running on its hybrid tablet results in a $500 error. Charged with adding up just seven rows of numbers, Microsoft Excel running on the Surface comes up with a total of $9,000, as can be seen in the zoomed in detail below.

Excel Surface fail


The correct sum for the numbers is $9,500, which Apple's Numbers app has no problem calculating on either an iPhone, a Macintosh, or even the beta version of iWork for iCloud accessible via a web browser. Despite lacking some features, such as chart editing or 3D depictions, the browser accessible Numbers can still add correctly.

Excel Surface fail

Excel Surface fail

Excel Surface fail


The only explanation for Excel's big billboard bug blunder is that perhaps Office is stuck writing off most of the cost of the Surface in its calculations, after Microsoft was similarly forced to erase $900,000,000 of its earnings after Surface tablets failed to sell last year.

Surface Ad


That figure was larger than the total revenues Microsoft reported collecting from Surface sales, without figuring in the $1 billion advertising campaign for Surface and Windows 8 that featured dancers (above) jumping in fountains while clicking and snapping at the cover of the Surface device while presumably doing serious calculations in Excel.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 230
    Ah, DED, such a clever title, and such a ripe opportunity to poke fun at our favorite headless nemesis! Soooo many MORE heads will roll over this one!

    Did you yourself spot the error? What a rabid newshound you are!

    I'm amazed that even you would catch this error, as it's such a tiny detail of an otherwise very bad billboard design--hard to read text "at a glance" and such a NON-eye-catching design. They need to take some lessons from McDonald's. But then, they need a product or two which is half as tasty!
  • Reply 2 of 230
    Please forgive me. I know my comment will add no value to the thread... but I can't help it!

    All I want to say is:

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
  • Reply 3 of 230
    I'm guessing the ad was created by an agency who, undoubtably, use Macs. Perhaps as their own poke at MS? Regardless, this is one of those things that should not have gotten past all the people who must have had their names on check boxes for reviewing the ad.

    DED should be sending this piece along to a few of the major news outlets - would be funny to see how MS responds.
  • Reply 4 of 230
    Hahaha! I love the bit at the end about the people jumping in fountains doing serious calculations in Excel! Brilliant piece, Daniel! Keep up the great work!
  • Reply 5 of 230
    The Numbers example did a great job of adding the column of numbers, but what's with the chart? It is quite lovely, all 3D and all. However, it has TWO slices labeled "Car" and NO slices labeled "Surf Rentals". Does Numbers have trouble with transposition of the content of a spreadsheet to a chart?
  • Reply 6 of 230
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Very funny. But can I just say pie charts are an abomination especially 3-D pie charts. :no:
  • Reply 7 of 230
    Think about it for a moment.

    Just how desperate is MS, that they've resorted to *advertising* Excel?

    Office is entrenched. Has been for years. I can't remember the last time I've seen any of it marketed so openly like this.

    We're talking about the so-called lowly iWork, something that MS recently dismissed. And now they're trying to promote their spreadsheet software over Apple's? LMAO

    Office software is MS' last bastion. They can't do hardware right (or profitably.) They've already screwed their OEM partners. And now they feel their core biz being threatened by Apple's little Office suite.
  • Reply 8 of 230
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    The Numbers example did a great job of adding the column of numbers, but what's with the chart? It is quite lovely, all 3D and all. However, it has TWO slices labeled "Car" and NO slices labeled "Surf Rentals". Does Numbers have trouble with transposition of the content of a spreadsheet to a chart?
    :lol: Good catch. Just basically made this article all that more cringeworthy.
  • Reply 9 of 230
    dnd0psdnd0ps Posts: 253member
    And this right here, this is why I read AI.
  • Reply 10 of 230
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    dnd0ps wrote: »
    And this right here, this is why I read AI.
    To find out that numbers (or DED) sucks at pie charts? ;)
  • Reply 11 of 230
    I think the real issue here is that someone is taking a vacation in Hawaii and has to make a SPREADSHEET.

    This is Microsoft's idea of "doing work".
  • Reply 12 of 230
    I'm sure it's just a rounding error.
  • Reply 13 of 230
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Wait - the Surface is the one device for everything in your life? I thought the Xbox One was the one device for everything in your life. More numeracy issues?

  • Reply 14 of 230

    Hold on a second, you mean sometimes the things displayed in adverts are a mockup / edited image of the actual product? I had no idea.

     

    Edit: I notice DED hasn't even bothered to check if the issue affects actual copies of Excel and seems to have treated the billboard as a functioning copy. 

  • Reply 15 of 230
    I am as big an Apple fan as anyone, but there may be a simple explanation for the $500 discrepancy in the total.

    I noticed in the ad the cell with 500 is still highlighted. If this means that the user entered the 500 without committing the change (hitting enter), the value would not have been counted in the total. I couldn't see if there was an active cursor in the field, but if there was, that would be the clincher. If there wasn't, it could just mean that the software that made the screen shot did not include the cursor in it.

    Sorry to put a damper on the Microsoft bashing. They do a good enough job with their comical attempts at copying Apple.
  • Reply 16 of 230
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    darklite wrote: »
    Hold on a second, you mean sometimes the things displayed in adverts are a mockup / edited image of the actual product? I had no idea.

    Edit: I notice DED hasn't even bothered to check if the issue affects actual copies of Excel and seems to have treated the billboard as a functioning copy. 
    Also didn't bother to notice that his pie chart lists car twice.
  • Reply 17 of 230
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    LOL

     

    A good catch by DED and pretty embarrassing for MS.  Somebody in marketing is in trouble =p  If the Surface actually did calculations like this that would be another thing and it would be in serious trouble too.   Well..... more serious trouble than it already is in.

     

    DED's charts show a problem too, which is equally embarrassing given the fact the point was to slam Microsoft =p   It shows car twice  and no surf rentals as someone previously noted, but it is an actual screenie from a Mac (unless DED takes the time to draw these things up).  Additionally it chose to put the wrong labels on the bar charts showing what looks like the 'food' expense as 'car' as well as simply choosing to skip a few columns.

     

    Again, I doubt that is an actual error on the Mac's or iWork's part...

     

    Maybe the take away is marketers and sensationalist journalists should stay away from math and tricky charts :p

  • Reply 18 of 230

    Here is the spin--or maybe the truth--"We wanted to showcase one of the powerful features - Automatic Calculations turned on or off.  In this instance, automatic calculations are off.  We wanted to showcase this great feature."

  • Reply 19 of 230

    I cannot understand the requirement of an advertisement of MS Office! after all if the one shown in the ad is a productivity thing, then such can be easily accomplished by old calculators for that matter.

  • Reply 20 of 230
    Too funny.

    Almost as funny as Microsoft choosing to replicate an error in the date function from Lotus because they decided compatibility was more important than accuracy and this error persists to this day...

    Found this out when converting between Excel and Numbers. Numbers gets it right.

    [URL]http://support.microsoft.com/kb/214326[/URL]
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