While it seems most PC users got a kick out of watching Seinfeld inquire about the future of chewy computers and Bill Gates doing the robot, I've remained critical of Microsoft's $300 million ad campaign and have yet to be impressed with one of its commercials, including the "I'm a PC" segments currently being aired. By contrast, I found myself chuckling at Apple's initial round of ads, not because I thought they were accurate (they're not), but because they managed to throw humorous jabs without going for that impossible knockout punch. For those of you who follow baseball, it's like being a Red Sox fan (which I am) and tipping your hat at the Tampa Bay Rays for outplaying your team last night (which they did), even though you despise them (which I do).
But lest anyone accuse me of sleeping with the enemy (you know, those whiny Mac losers), let me go on record as saying that the new Mac ads suck too, and not just because I've developed an urge to want to punch Justin Long-in-the-tooth square in the face (I bet he's a Tampa Bay fan too, the smug bastard).
Hit the jump to read my beef with the new Mac ads.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touched upon virtually all the major issues concerning MS – from Windows 7 to Yahoo - at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo in Orlando. Unsurprisingly, he was confronted by many questions regarding Vista and Windows 7.He ardently defended Windows Vista. “The adoption rate of Vista is two times faster than XP at two years in,” Ballmer said in Vista’s defense.
However, he tacitly gave the thumbs up to enterprises that have abandoned all plans of upgrading to Vista and are already waiting for Windows 7. Regarding the possibility of a deal with Yahoo, he said that a deal would make sense for the shareholders of both the companies. The price of Yahoo’s shares shot up by 17% after Ballmer’s comment.
Ballmer believes that Google Apps has “very primitive” capabilities. He further derided Google Apps by not even acknowledging it as serious competition.
It seems as though many enthusiasts are biding their time with Vista and have already begun looking forward to Windows 7. In some respects, so has Microsoft, who doesn't need much coaxing to talk about the new OS, whether it be about the refined UAC experience or explaining where the Windows 7 naming scheme comes from. But that doesn't mean Vista's being kicked to the curb.
On the contrary, it looks as though Vista's second Service Pack will make a debut before Windows 7, suggests ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. According to Foley, select hardware and software partners have already received a beta of SP2, and while the murmurs are unusually quiet regarding what the new Service Pack will bring, Foley's sources have indicated that Microsoft's goal is to deliver SP2 before Windows 7 in an attempt to lessen confusion among users mulling whether to deploy Vista or wait for the new OS. And what does Microsoft have to say on the matter?
"Microsoft is working on a second Windows Vista Service Pack (Windows Vista SP2) and will share more details in the coming months," a Vista spokesperson wrote.
Hit the jump and let us know what you're most looking forward to: Windows 7 or Vista SP2.
"Where Do You Want to Go Today?" Maybe that old Microsoft slogan was inspired by the codenames for Windows versions past. You could travel the Midwest with a trip to "Chicago" (Windows 95), "Detroit" (Windows 95 OSR2) and "Memphis" (Windows 98) [corrected 10-15-2008, hat tip to reader damicatz]. Is "Cairo" in Egypt or Southern Illinois? Either way, it's the codename for Windows NT 4.0. More recently, Microsoft's been hitting the slopes in British Columbia, with "Whistler" (Windows XP) and hitting an apres-ski bar in Whistler called "Longhorn" (Windows Vista) for a little liquid refreshment.
Well, you can put away your roadmaps: the Windows version codenamed "Windows 7" is officially called....(wait for it....) Windows 7! Ironically, the official Windows Vista blog confirmed the name for Vista's successor in a post on Columbus Day. Thus, Windows 7 will be the first version of in many years Windows not to have a codename or at least a nickname (Windows 2000 was informally known as "NT5" before it was released).
Wondering why Microsoft went for simplicity in the name of the new OS? Wondering about Microsoft counts Windows generations? Join us after the jump to learn more - and get your chance to sound off.
October's Patch Tuesday's bigger than normal, with 11 security bulletins (four critical, six important, and one moderate) affecting the following desktop operating systems and applications:
Internet Explorer 5.01, 6, and 7 on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, and Windows Vista get patched to stop a remote code execution threat
Windows XP SP2 and SP3 and Windows XP Professional x64 and XP Professional x64 SP2 will be patched to stop elevation of privilege attacks
Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 will also be as updated needed to prevent remote code execution
Microsoft Excel 2000 SP3, Excel 2002, Excel 2003 SP2/SP3, and Excel 2007/2007 SP1 will be updated against a critical vulnerability, as will Excel Viewer 2003/2003 SP3, Excel Viewer, and MS Office Compatibility Pack and Compatibility Pack's SP1.
What else is coming down the chute starting Tuesday?
Windows Vista Media Center gets a pair of updates (one for the TV Pack, and one for everyone), as well as the usual updates to the Malicious Software Removal Tool, Windows Mail Junk Email Filter and Customer/Windows Vista Experience Improvement Program.
However, the biggest news is the premiere of the Microsoft Active Protections Program and Exploitability Index we told you about in August. Hopefully, these programs will aid the never-ending battle against the bad guys in cyberspace.
Microsoft Tinker, developed for Microsoft by Fuel Industries, puts you in control of an old-school robot that's exploring a miniature world. Move to each level's destination by moving blocks, jumping on elevator buttons, and destroying objects. Along the way, you can also turn switches on and off and collect cog wheels. You can control your journey with the arrow keys on the keyboard, an Xbox 360 controller, or a Windows Media Center remote. You can also record a video of a game level, and while you play, a cool jazz soundtrack keeps your spirits up.
Game sounds from Microsoft Tinker make up the second Ultimate Extra, joining previous audio Ultimate Extras Glass and Pearl.
Dream Scene Content Pack #4 adds three variations on a mountain lake at sunset (see illustration) to previous full-motion wallpaper offerings.
The marketing drum at Microsoft beats on and new advertisements have finally surfaced for your viewing pleasure. The new direction in the campaign features a noticeable lack of Seinfeld and churros, but it finally takes on the damaging Mac vs PC ads which Apple first debuted several years ago. For many PC enthusiasts this is the real kick start of the Vista ad campaign, and in many ways is long overdue. For years Apple has stereotyped Windows user’s as pie chart obsessed corporate stooges who resist the very notion that computing can be fun. The Microsoft ads hope to demonstrate the diversity of the over one billion users across the world who use Windows everyday and are proud proponents of the platform. The campaign also features a new face to represent the PC, which ironically turns out to be an internal Microsoft employee named Sean Siler. Sean claims he was one of many who auditioned for the role of the PC and his duties at Microsoft otherwise involve work on IPv6. His email address (provided at the bottom of the ad) sends back an automated out of office response directed toward curious observers. Try it yourself by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit the jump to read the transcript and see the ads for yourself.
It's too early to tell how effective (or ineffective) Microsoft's new commercials will be in currying favor among those leaning towards buying a Mac or on the fence as to which direction to take, but at least one OEM might not be willing to wait and find out. According to an article in BusinessWeek, those every ready 'anonymous sources' claim Hewlett-Packard is looking into offering a Windows alternative.
"Sources say employees in HP's PC division are exploring the possibility of building a mass-market operating system," the article states.
Naturally, the new OS will most likely take root in Linux, albeit a customized version that wouldn't be so intimidating to mainstream users. The idea, according to the sources, is to make HP less dependent on Windows and snag some the customers that become mesmerized under Justin Long's spell.
Phil McKinney, CTO of HP's Personal Systems Group, didn't outright deny report, but he came close when he said "Is HP funding a huge R&D team to go off and create an operating systems? (That) makes no sense."
If you enjoyed the first commercial starring Bill Gates and new OS pitchman Jerry Seinfeld (and judging by the comments in the accompanying news post, many of you did), then you're likely to be tickled by the latest installment, all agonizing 4 minutes of it (that's right, my PC brethren, I'm still not amused). Gates doesn't shake his tush in the latest Vista ad, but he does do the robot, or at least a 52-year-old semi-retired billionaire's version of the robot (admittedly not bad, all things considered).
The newest ad still stays mainly focused on trying to connect with current culture rather than outright attempting to whip Apple at its own game, which is to fight a battle of the OSes. But here's my beef - it's just not amusing, to me anyway. There are subtle (and some not so subtle) messages to be picked up on in both commercials, but just as I didn't find myself chuckling at the whole Shoe Circus setting, I'm equally unimpressed watching a couple of rich guys trying to coexist with the common folk (props to the spunky grandma, the sole shining star so far in this ad campaign). Taken to the extreme, as Gizmodo alludes to, the commercials' failure to live up to expectations ironically mimic the same characteristic that described Vista when it first debuted.
There's a particular line that stands out in this new commercial. After Gates and Seinfeld are caught stealing a leather giraffe, the man of the home tells the unlikely duo "I'm disappointed in the both of you." Me too.
Am I just being a hater, or are you guys and gals still digging these introductory commercials? Maybe I'm just bitter that Will Ferrell didn't end up with the role.
Face it, activation is a failure. For power users who frequently upgrade their PCs, dialing in to reactivate the OS is beyond irritating. Instead, Microsoft must come up with a novel way to punish pirates without annoying its paying customers. (May we suggest displaying massive popup ads in pirate copies of Windows?) For legitimate customers, a realistic home-licensing program—buy one copy at full price, get four more upgrades for $50 to $100 each—would go a long way toward creating goodwill.