"Hi. I'm a PC. And I'm a Mac"

By now, I'm sure most of you have seen many of Apple's excellent "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ads--I'm particularly fond of the "Yoga" ad myself (Judy Greer...meow).  Over about the last year and a half or so, those ads have been a great success for Apple.  Mac Pros, iMacs, and MacBooks, not to mention companion devices like the iPod and iPhone, have been selling at a very good clip, and according to recent market research Apple is now the third largest PC vendor in the U.S.

With all of the bad press Microsoft has received since the introduction of Windows Vista, it's no wonder Apple went on the offensive and besmirched the PC and Windows in the way that it has.  The company saw a golden opportunity and seized it--plain and simple.  I would have done the same thing.  With the exception of a few trade events and the odd interview, however, Microsoft remained relatively silent during the whole ordeal considering the company's size, and have said little more than Vista was steadily improving and was selling much better than the negative news would lead you to believe.   And all the while, Apple just kept on cranking out ads for the Get a Mac campaign, winning over more and more users.

But as they say, the times, they are a changin'.  Microsoft now feels Vista has been polished to the point that they'll soon be launching a reported $500 million marketing campaign designed to improve the OS' image.  The first hints at the upcoming campaign are already live on Microsoft's site...

"When Windows Vista debuted in January 2007, we declared it the best operating system we had ever made. "Windows Vista is beautiful," The New York Times raved. It's humbling that millions of you agree.

But we know a few of you were disappointed by your early encounter. Printers didn't work. Games felt sluggish. You told us—loudly at times—that the latest Windows wasn't always living up to your high expectations for a Microsoft product."

The page also goes on to say, "While we're at it, we'd like to clear up some confusion and lingering misunderstandings about Windows Vista—and our plans for its predecessor, Windows XP."

How's that for candid?  Although the above image is not part of the upcoming campaign, it probably gives a little insight into the direction Microsoft is headed.  We haven't seen any of the ads just yet, but we suspect there will be a mix of fun and exciting content, mixed in with practical examples of how Vista is "right for you".  What MS has said publicly is that they won't directly address or refute Apple's ads for fear of coming across as lame and unfunny in comparison.  That's probably a smart move--I could just see the parodies now.

While I agree they shouldn't lend any credence to Apple by acknowledging the Get a Mac ads, they should stick it to Apple in any way they can.  "Got overpriced hardware?"  "Here's a mammoth 8-core powerhouse, featuring a $49 graphics card.  Nice!"

I also agree, it's time to start clearing some of the FUD and polishing Vista's image in the marketplace.   To be blunt, the OS is simply not as bad as many so-called experts make it out to be.  To give a few real world examples, all of my test machines here in BW Labs 3.0 are running Vista SP1 and I haven't experienced any major OS-related issues whatsoever, and that includes when testing some of the most cutting edge hardware with beta drives and newly released games.  My personal rig has also been running Vista Ultimate 64-bit for over a year now as well and I have not experienced any major issues on that rig either.  I am a bit of a stickler about running the latest drivers and newest versions of my applications though.

Perhaps the most interesting story, at least for me, is how my wife's aging laptop and mid-range desktop systems have handled Vista.  Her laptop is a Compaq Presario with an Athlon XP 3000+, 1.25GB of RAM, and a GeForce 4 420M GPU.  That was actually the first system I ever installed Vista on at the end of '06.  And to this day it has been perfectly stable, it hasn't been infested with Malware, and in general it runs quite well.  Although admittedly, it can't run Aero.

My wife's personal machine is also a Vista success story.  The system is powered by an Athlon 64 X2 3800+, 2GB of RAM, and a GeForce 7600 GT.  That system was upgraded to Vista in January '07 and it too has been running great.  With the amount of use the PCs in our house get, and all of the experimentation we put them through (I'm a bit of a software hoarder), there was no way an XP install would have lasted that long without needing some form of overhaul.  At least in our home, Vista has served us well.

So, bring it Microsoft!  Get everyone excited to run Vista and hopefully update their hardware in the process.  We'll tell all those users what upgrades to buy--no problem at all.