Microsoft's latest ad attacks Mac aesthetics, computing power

in General Discussion edited January 2014
Continuing its advertising campaign which seeks to promote generic PCs running Windows as more attractive than Macs, Microsoft's latest spot plays up specifications over aesthetics as opposed to just suggesting that PCs are simply cheaper as the previous spot did. However, it ends up making the opposite point instead.

Following Lauren, the latest ad introduces Giampaolo, who says he's looking for portability, battery life, and power. "I'm technically savvy," he says, "I know what I want. I like a computer that allows me to customize." He's shown shopping at Fry's Electronics, where he picks up a unibody MacBook and says, "This is so sexy!"

Giampaolo then explains why he can't buy it, saying, "Macs to me are all about aesthetics more than they are the computing power. I don't want to pay for the brand, I want to pay for the computer."

Of course, it's really Microsoft that's paying for Giampaolo's computer, and Steve Ballmer is not going to pick up the tab for a MacBook. So instead, Giampaolo uses his $1500 budget to ultimately buy an HP Pavilion HDX 16t, which he says has everything he needs.

"That thing is gigantic"

On HP's website, that model starts at $1000. At Fry's, the salesman in the ad points out its typical configuration of $1,100, although HP's "recommended configuration" is $1400, still within Giampaolo's budget. However, it's an odd choice for somebody who wants portability, as the 16" widescreen model he lugs out of Fry's weighs over 7.3 pounds naked, almost twice as much as the "sexy" MacBook that's "all about aesthetics."

HP certainly isn't "all about aesthetics." The cheap plastic body of the HP Pavilion HDX 16t is 1.7 inches thick, nearly twice as bulky as the MacBook. All that size surrounds a large 16" screen with a miserably low density 1366x768 screen resolution. Giampaolo could upgrade to the 1920x1080 option, but that would have bumped him over his artificial $1500 ad budget, even when applying a $200 instant rebate HP offers.

Battery life not so good

"What would have the best battery life, that could still accommodate my needs?" Giampaolo asked while shopping. It sure wasn't what he picked out.

HP rates its built-in battery for less than 3 hours, but reviewers gave it less than two. That's not very good at all for its category. HP also offers a $150 expansion battery that hangs off the back of the already large system to give it twice the battery life. The "sexy" MacBook is rated for 5 hours with a single battery.

"It's a pretty strong contender"

In terms of power, Giampaolo's third primary need, the "recommended configuration" of the HP Pavilion HDX 16t that he apparently purchased ships with a 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo P7450 paired with 4GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 RAM, which is a slower memory architecture than Apple was shipping in early 2006 MacBooks three years ago.

The latest MacBooks that Giampaolo feared were "all about aesthetics" pair a Core 2 Duo P7350 or P8600 with PC3-8500 DDR3 RAM, delivering a peak transfer rate that's twice as fast as the HP machine Giampaolo selected.

So much for Macs being about "aesthetics more than they are the computing power," or Giampaolo being "technically savvy."

Hopefully, Giampaolo is at least technologically savvy enough to upgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows Vista (or downgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows XP) in order to actually take advantage of that 4GB of RAM, as the standard version of Windows can only actually use about 3GB of it, a technical problem he wouldn't face on the MacBook.

Given that only a fraction of the PC installed base runs a 64-bit version of Windows (Microsoft reported that less than 6% of users hitting its software update servers were running 64-bit Vista last June), there's lots of "technically savvy" PC users with loads of installed RAM their computer can't even use.

And while Giampaolo can upgrade to even more RAM, he can't upgrade his new system to use the faster DDR3 RAM specification used in the MacBook. That would make his system faster overall and allow it to take full advantage of the installed CPU's 1066MHz front side bus, which HP chose to cripple by pairing it with a 533MHz memory architecture to save money and deliver a cheap system for people who don't know what they're really buying as they shop at Fry's for good-sounding GB and MHz numbers rather than focusing on finding a computer that does the things they want it to do.

Giampaolo was distracted by marketing

Of course, with the scant money that he's saving (he could have bought the high end MacBook by matching Microsoft's money with his own $100), Giampaolo will now get to go shopping for software, where he can easily spend several hundred dollars just trying to match the features and usability of the free iLife and Mac OS X tools Apple bundles with the MacBook.

Giampaolo will also have to spend hours of his time installing and running antivirus and adware tools, and stay on the lookout for that Conficker computer worm that Microsoft is warning Windows PC users about on the front page of its corporate website.

The strangest point of this ad is that Giampaolo didn't get the portability, battery life, and power he was looking for, he just ended up with a cheap-appearing machine that obscured its real technical limitations under a flashy layer of misleading, specification-oriented marketing, the very thing he thought he was avoiding with HP: buying a brand rather than a computer. And that's exactly what Microsoft wants people to do: buy its brand rather than a computer that does what they want it to do.


  • Reply 1 of 520
    Man these commercials are just horrible. At this rate they might as well just buy Macs for the "I a lost PC" types. Seeing that guy in the cheesy suit at CompUSA just reminds me of everything I hate about shopping at those big grocery store style computer stores. Almost every time you get some guy who doesn't know squat about technology...Apple store is a different environment completely. At least you can actually get someone to help you. As contest microsoft...keep trying.
  • Reply 2 of 520
    walshbjwalshbj Posts: 864member
    I love the suggestion that a UNIX-based system isn't powerful enough for the tech-savvy guy.
  • Reply 3 of 520
    Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

    I love the suggestion that a UNIX-based system isn't powerful enough for the tech-savvy guy.

    Actually, the "UNIX-based" terminology does not apply anymore. Mac OS X Leopard is UNIX...

    And I thought the Lauren ad was bad...Some people still liked it.

    This one, however, is just horrendous. The guy goes outright and says "The macbook is sexy". Apple can counter these ads so easily, but why will they, when MS is doing all their advertising for them!
  • Reply 4 of 520
    guinnessguinness Posts: 473member
    Why not compare the HP, to the white MB that Apple still sells, that also has DDR2-667 MHz RAM and a 1066 MHz FSB?

    I'm not sure if that would benefit HP or Apple more, but it's not like HP isn't the only one pairing a new C2D with older DDR2. And I'm not even sure how important DDR3 vs DDR2 is current laptops, desktops with faster RAM and lower latencies may see more of a difference, but laptops are generally slower than desktops no matter what.

    Although the HP does have the Geforce 9600M, which Apple only offers on the MBP. And the article does mention that he did choose Vista 64-bit, but that's a 64-bit OS now, while Apple is still using a 32-bit kernel and PAE, until Snow Leopard, but it's still not a true 64-bit OS ATM.
  • Reply 5 of 520
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    I imagine if someone did benchmarks between these two machines, would totally kill the premise of this ad.
  • Reply 6 of 520
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

    I love the suggestion that a UNIX-based system isn't powerful enough for the tech-savvy guy.

    I find it ironic that the three things he wants are not found in the HP he chose when compared to a Mac. However, it is a notebook so it's therefore portable, and has a battery so it does have battery life and it obviously powers on after several minutes of booting up so it does meet his criteria if not compared to other machines.

    Seriously though, is MS just not hiring the right people or is it really hard to find a reason to buy a non-Mac notebook. For starters, instead of focusing on reasons to choose Windows they are focusing on Macs so much that it may do more for selling more Macs than other vendor's PCs. Then there is the major issue of "preaching to the choir" in these ads. In other words, the people that these ads relate to aren't teetering being Mac and non-Mac for their next PC purchase. It's simply a waste of an advertising budget.
  • Reply 7 of 520
    I swear if I met that guy in person I would've slapped him... its people just like him who THINK they know what they are talking about "tech savvy, GHz processor, webcam" that make me so upset... they throw around three words and think they know everything... HEY microsoft!!! make an AD comparing yourself to OSX!!! lets see movie maker and iMovie go head to head!!!...
  • Reply 8 of 520
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

    I imagine if someone did benchmarks between these two machines, would totally kill the premise of this ad.

    That would be a huge laugh if in benchmarks the macbook unibody beat it but it would be pretty close and it does have the better graphics but then is it a backlit LED screen with good resolution I think not. I dont wan't to mock MS for the sake of it but come on do better than this.
  • Reply 9 of 520
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    I think these are just glorified HP ads
  • Reply 10 of 520
    The guy in that ad reminds me of this guy. His tech savvy is right on par.
  • Reply 11 of 520
    Dumb. I am a PC user, but I find these ads quite juvenile.

    Yes, we know that PCs are cheaper. Is that all you got?

    A new thought: Microsoft your ads suck (and they cost millions). Why not use web 2.0 tech to get REAL people to make their own commercial? You can air the best one.
  • Reply 12 of 520
    cu10cu10 Posts: 294member
    Playing hardball... typical Microsoft.
  • Reply 13 of 520
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    I'm not saying the MacBook would necessarily beat the HP. The premise of the ad is that he's getting a lot more power for a much less price. The benchmarks would likely show it's not much better if any.

    Originally Posted by fellaintga View Post

    That would be a huge laugh if in benchmarks the macbook unibody beat it but it would be pretty close and it does have the better graphics but then is it a backlit LED screen with good resolution I think not. I dont wan't to mock MS for the sake of it but come on do better than this.

  • Reply 14 of 520
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member
    I am not sure what was worse, the commercial or AI's critique?

    So much time was spent talking about differences in memory speeds, which probably don't have a huge affect on performance, but AI conveniently ignored the fact that the HP has a dedicated GPU. The GPU could have a substantially bigger impact on performance depending on how the machine is used.

    Also, the guy doesn't state he wants the longest battery life. He asks which laptop has the best battery life that meets his needs. He clearly indicated a preference for size and power which of course, reduce battery life.

    Hours installing antivirus and antispyware programs? Yeah right. Vista comes with Windows Defender so antispyware isn't needed and a antivirus program doesn't take more than 15 minutes to install. It will come with OS updates turned on so conflicker is a non-issue. If he runs most of time as a standard user not as an admin (same as what OS X users should do) he won't have malware problems.

    Can't argue about the low pixel density on the screen. Although I will say many will see that as advantage because it makes the screen much easier to read. But at least this machine has some options in that regard. Does the MacBook?

    And what about the HP's firewire port, express card slot, HDMI out and, from what I can tell from their web site, an optical drive with Blu-ray capability? Don't see those on the MacBook anywhere.

    Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't buy one of those things. I have a 2.2Ghz BlackBook and it works great for me. But I do miss some of the options that are seen on the HP. I would love the current MacBook if it had FW, HDMI out and a BD drive. I would easily trade the LED backlit display for those things.

    What it comes down to is choices. Apple has made design decisions with their products and have given very few options to meet various needs. Meanwhile, their competitors continue to sell a lot of machines with a clearly inferior OS because they give people hardware choices at a reasonable cost. And for some, that is enough. It doesn't make them wrong or stupid. It just means that they want different things from their computing experience.

  • Reply 15 of 520
    ok just to set the record straight on the macbook pro 15's battery ... it pretty much sucks. i get 3.5 hours out of it if i'm lucky, with almost everything shut down, the discrete graphics turned off, and the screen only illuminated to 2 bars. i've never gotten over 4 hours in this configuration, even when the machine was new.

    yes i called apple and went through the battery checking processes ... the battery is fine. it's just that the 5 hour claim on the battery is practically unachievable. what's pathetic is that mac shaved off just a little of the battery to make the mbpro thinner and weigh less. and now i just end up using my macbook white all the time, whose 2.4 ghz processor and 4gb of ram is just fine for me ... and whose battery life is more like 5.5 hours with the same behavior. i can't even leave the house with my macbook pro without taking the adapter and worrying about it.

    obviously, they should have released that "breakthrough battery" -- read: more marketing gimmickry from apple as there is nothing revolutionary about the 17's battery besides the fact that it's just really effin' big -- as at least at option for the 15's. of course they wouldn't because they like to artificially make barriers between their products so they don't compete with each other. case in point: the macbook white and the new regular macbook. ironically, apple's reasoning for downplaying the white and having people shell out extra coin is coupled with the "it's your duty to be green" rhetoric their current ads are forcing upon us, but isn't this the company who made a name for itself marketing sexy plastic? wasn't and (and isn't) that old macbook white still one of their best sellers? come on, i drive a prius ... i'm green. now give me what i want.

    apple people ... stop being such fanbois ... if you l like the hardware and the OS, buy the stuff ... heck even pay more for it. but don't go thinking that jobs is a god and his hardware descended from heaven. he's not and it didn't.
  • Reply 16 of 520
    nite41nite41 Posts: 41member
    haha..The guy wants 'portability' and ends up buying a 16" laptop! Now, that is 'portability'! Wow! Hats off to the dumbness of the person who made this ad!

    It's funny how Microsoft is spending money on useless advertisements. Why not use that money to make a better OS, or develop a new product?

    One of the main reasons i like Apple is their constant desire to improvise.
  • Reply 17 of 520
    love the Ad
  • Reply 18 of 520
    I could easily see a commercial involving Right Said Fred's song making fun of this ad.

    Microsoft's marketing approach is so weird though. And I don't know what's worse, that they're so out of touch with how their product (the software, not the computer it's in) is used, or that the ad agency they're signed up with doesn't seem to know what it's doing either.

    That they keep cranking out this crap and wasting Microsoft's $ is funny in a sad kind of way. They're supposed to be "experts" about marketing, and it's the best they can do?

    I've *NEVER* heard of someone picking a computer based on sex appeal, and hopefully won't ever meet a person who does.

    Apple's done a phenomenal job this past decade of re-imaging itself as something of a designer label for computers, from the iMac's of the early 2000's to now. Microsoft can only compete with so much of that because they design software...NOT hardware (except those Zunes that kids whose parents don't love them enough to buy an iPod have to listen to).

    So why hasn't Microsoft put more pressure on Dell, HP, etc. to make better looking, but still customizable/upgradeable, computers? It kind of seems like they're ignoring this half of the puzzle.
  • Reply 19 of 520
    delptdelpt Posts: 1member
    Everyone here is obviously biased. I have both a Mac and a PC, and Macs can't do everything a PC can without running the Mac AS the PC... and PC's are not as reliable as Macs because Macs are built to run fine exactly as-is and is restricted to a bunch of Apple anti-consumer licensing... So they are equal but on different levels.

    Quit pretending that Mac is better. They are the same.
  • Reply 20 of 520
    qwertyqwerty Posts: 1member
    If I'm not mistaking, the laptop probably has dual channel ram, meaning 533+533=1066? :o

    I do admit commercial is cheesy tho.
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