Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:13

Micrsoft's About Face In Core Values For PCs Will Come Back To Hurt Them

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Marketing is a fickle thing and one that can come back to bite a company when they are least expecting it. What has happened is that the marketing people working now are forgetting that the market has a much longer memory than they used to and, of course, the Internet never forgets.  This is what Microsoft is facing right now as they try to compete with Apple in slim and ultrabooks (as well as regular notebooks and other products).  For years they have portrayed Apple as flashy and overpriced using materials that increase the manufacturing costs without any real benefit to the consumer. Now, however Microsoft is finding itself being bitten by those same marketing campaigns as they work to raise consumer and enterprise interest in Windows 8 (all flavors).

Looking at Microsoft’s marketing campaign strategy we will start off with the tried and true “Apple Tax”.
Starting in 2008 Microsoft began this marketing push to claim that Apple was charging the consumer more simply to buy an Apple product. During this particular marketing push Microsoft was all about individual choice as opposed to being forced to use what the manufacturer provides to you. Here is a nice quote from Microsoft Corporate VP of Consumer Product Marketing Brad Brooks (quote source CNET);

What we want to define as a consumer experience is not nearly as limited as what Apple makes it out to be. We have a huge choice, a huge diversity, an ecosystem that can bring a range of choices, whether it be on cost, whether it be on technology, whether it be on the types of magical application experiences that you can only get when you use the Windows operating system. And it's really a definition now between choosing something that is limited, and somebody chooses for you--basically the "i" way--or actually taking it to a much broader scope, which is "your" way, and defining it through Windows, and the experience that comes with the tens of thousands of partners that build applications, services, and content for the Windows platform every day.

Even Steve Ballmer got in on the act with this one claiming that you got more choice and better features for less money than you did with Apple for a cool design and logo. Of course Windows Vista was the new OS and it was tanking in the market so Microsoft had to do anything they could to bolster those sales.

Moving forward in 2009 Microsoft introduced to us the Laptop Hunters in order to show how much more cost effective a PC with Windows is over a Mac. One common theme is flexibility and how much power you can get for the same money over a Mac. Watching these brings back memories of the much larger Apple Vs Microsoft debates. Time and time again the Microsoft camp argued that it was more flexible and not tied to a certain small eco-system of software, hardware and price points. Let’s face it; Microsoft’s Windows meant choice to the consumer. Choice of browser, choice of games, choice of applications even choice of the company that you bought the hardware from.

So what of their push with Windows 8? It seems exceptionally counterproductive and almost the opposite of what Microsoft was trying to push four years ago. Now Microsoft wants to lock down the boot process to only allow certain operating systems to be installed on their approved hardware (one of the things that Microsoft complained about Apple). They are also pressuring you to use their Microsoft accounts to access the majority of features in their products (again citing the “I” style of business like Brad said above). On top of that they are pushing developers to code for a new UI that locks out their access to some of the core APIs in Windows (for Windows RT) again something Microsoft has said that Apple does to limit consumer choice.

It seems to me that Microsoft is doing exactly what they have lambasted Apple for doing, but expecting the market to forget that they did this. We are not sure if Ballmer and company are hoping we will have forgotten or just think that the market is that dumb, but either way it is going to have a negative impact on them. Windows 8 had (and still does) great potential as an operating system. It has features that can work for gamers, tablets, desktops, workstations and more. However, Microsoft has decided to forego their previous direction of allowing consumer choice in favor of pushing their vision on to every desktop. Their hope is top pick up a solid revenue stream from people using these products (through their cloud services). They are putting all the pieces into place to prevent the downgrades that they have seen with Windows Vista and 7 by locking the UEFI boot loader so people getting new hardware might be stuck with this OS (which they might not want) and making it all too easy for new users to get locked into using Microsoft only cloud services.

To wrap it all up Microsoft has done a complete 180 shift in the core values they presented to consumers. Instead they are doing exactly what they have always told us they hate about Apple, but would like the consumer to forget they told us it is bad…

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Read 3060 times Last modified on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:30

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