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Microsoft ending Seinfeld ads, embracing ‘I’m a PC’


After a generally very poor reception to their “teaser” ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, Microsoft has announced that they are ending that line of ads and will be taking things in a different direction.

In a bit of a surprising move, the new ads will embrace the series of ads begun by Apple, at least partly. The next ad will feature a Microsoft engineer playing the role of a ‘PC’ (the role comedian John Hodgman plays in Apple’s campaign) and will reportedly begin with the line “hello, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype”.

I wonder if it will also feature sad music and crying in an effort to get us to feel sorry for poor PC?

A Microsoft brand marketing manager told the New York Times that Apple has been “using a lot of their money to de-position our brand and tell people what we stand for” and that they want to take back that narrative.

Well, good luck with that. I’m looking forward to seeing the new ads, but honestly I’m not expecting very much.

Note to Microsoft: Want to win people over? Make Windows 7 kick ass and not require brand new hardware to be able to use all of it’s features.

[Via Computerworld]


Second Gates and Seinfeld ad airs…eh…

The second installment of Microsoft’s new “edgy” ad campaign has aired.  Miss it? You can check out the long version of it below.

What do I think? While I do feel that it’s better than the first one, I just don’t like it–crappy ad about nothing. I just don’t find it funny.

Two ads into their campaign and I don’t feel any better about Microsoft or Windows than I did before I saw the ads.

Is that how I’m supposed to feel?

[Via Engadget]

Microsoft calls first Gates, Seinfeld TV ad a ‘teaser’

After the first TV ad featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld was met with a lukewarm reception (at best), Microsoft said today that it was a “teaser” to a much longer campaign, according to Brad Brooks, corporate vice president for Windows consumer product marketing.

According to Brooks, Microsoft wants to “engage customers in a conversation and dialogue in a humorous and intriguing way…we want to re-engage consumers emotionally around the brand Windows..and actually create that emotional connection again — a connection we’ve had, and that we want to have again.”

Barbara Lippert, a critic for AdWeek magazine, said the ad was “beyond bizarre” and Steve Hall, publisher of AdRants.com, said that “if Crispin Porter + Bogusky [Microsoft’s advertising agency] and Microsoft were going for the oddly creepy or the offputting nonsensical, then they’ve succeeded brilliantly.”

Not everyone seemed to hate it, however, with some found it odd yet funny.

I’m personally on the “hate it” side, but that’s me.

If you haven’t seen the ad yet but would like to you’ll find it in this post.

[Via Computerworld]

Microsoft airs first tv ad with Jerry Seinfeld


After spending many millions to get comedian Jerry Seinfeld to co-star in TV spots with Bill Gates to try and revamp Microsoft’s image, the first ad has been completed and started airing tonight.

The ads kick off a new edgy ad campaign and is an attempt to counter Apple’s Mac vs. PC ads.

I hope Microsoft’s ads get better than this one because this is pretty much crap if you ask me. Check it out below and see what you think:

[Via Electronista]

Bill Gates says goodbye to Microsoft


At an employee-only event today at Microsoft’s headquarters, company founder Bill Gates said goodbye to the company he founded in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen.

Wiping away tears, Gates said “there won’t be a day in my life that I’m not thinking about Microsoft and the great things that it’s doing and wanting to help,” as those in attendance gave him a standing ovation.

Gates was joined on stage by Steve Ballmer who told the story of how he almost quit working at Microsoft a month after joining the company, only to be talked into stay by Bill who said “you don’t get it! We’re going to put a computer on every desk and in every home.”

At just 52 years old, Gates will move on to new challenges, focusing on his philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

[Via Reuters]

Bill Gates: Windows Usability has been going backwards


In a gem of an email from 2003, Bill Gates sent an email to then Microsoft executive Jim Allchin, talking about some frustrations Gates was experiencing with the usability of Windows and Movie Maker.

According to Gates, “Windows usability has gone backwards” and that after downloading some updates “the machine was so slow I couldn’t use it for anything else during this time…what the heck is going on during this six minutes? That is crazy.”

After talking about a few other problems Gates says “the lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind.”

Nice to know Bill runs into problems with Windows too like the rest of us. Unfortunately, like the rest of us, he was in a position to do something about it. Has the usability of Windows gotten better since 2003 when this message was sent?

I think some attempts were made, but ultimately the changes weren’t substantial enough.

Should Microsoft come out with a major OS release that starts from scratch and dumps backwards compatibility except through maybe emulation?

Here’s the full text from the email–enjoy:

—- Original Message —-

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack … so I went to Microsoft.com. They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn’t in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system … and so many of the things are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying – where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn’t Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn’t use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night — why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to Microsoft.com and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like “Open” or “Save”. No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven’t run Moviemaker and I haven’t got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don’t you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

[Via Engadget]

Windows 7 arriving next year?

While speaking before the Inter-American Development Bank today, Bill Gates said that the next version of Windows could be arriving sometime next year.

“Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version…I’m super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways.”

If the next version of Windows (currently referred to as Windows 7) does arrive next year, that would put its release quite a bit ahead of schedule.

Confused by this news? You’re not alone.

As recently as within the last 24 hours a representative from Microsoft told CNET that Windows 7 is expected to ship roughly three years after Vista’s debut in January of 2007.

Gates may have been referring to when it would be available for beta testing, but his remark hasn’t yet been clarified yet.

So when should we REALLY expect to see Windows 7? I’d be very surprised if we see anything but beta copies before 2010. The way the last major consumer OS release for Microsoft went I think they’re going to want to get this next one right.

[Via CNET News]

Steve Jobs talks MacBook Air, Kindle, Android and Bill Gates


After another successful keynote at Macworld, Steve Jobs sat down for a few minutes with John Markoff and David Pogue of the New York Times to talk tech.

First up? The MacBook Air, of course.

“I’m going to be the first one in line to buy one of these,” said Steve. “I’ve been lusting after this.”

Apple went through roughly 100 design prototypes before finding the right one, then they had to see if the engineers would be able to actually fit a computer into it.

Next up–the Amazon Kindle.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

How about Google’s Android?

“We’ll see how good their software is and we’ll see how consumers like it and how quickly it is adopted.”

Steve feels that Google has already achieved their goal and that they don’t need Android–it actually hurts more than it helps.

What about Bill Gates?

“Bill’s retiring from Microsoft is a big deal. It’s a significant event, and I think he should be honored for the contributions he’s made.”

There’s really not much more to the NYT story than is here, but if you want to see the whole thing you can check it out here.

[Via Gizmodo]