Tag Archives | Windows

Gates! Seinfeld! Shoes! Churros! Same Old Windows Vista!

The $300 million Windows ad campaign featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates is here–or at least the first installment is. It debuted last night on NBC during football, and thanks to the miracle of YouTube, here it is on Technologizer. Go ahead and watch it, if you haven’t seen it yet–I’ll wait:

What to make of it? Given that it barely mentions computers, and refers to Windows only in the form of a logo at the end, it’s obviously meant to whet our appetite for ads to come rather than push a product. (TechCrunch has a memo from Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte that says “The first phase of this campaign is designed to engage consumers and spark a new conversation about Windows–a conversation that will evolve as the campaign progresses, but will always be marked by humor and humanity.”) So it would be a mistake to render any verdict on how well Microsoft invested its millions at this point.

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Google Chrome: Hey, That Logo Looks Vaguely Familiar

(UPDATE! I’m conducting a poll about Chrome–please go here to take it, and to get a recap of all of Technologizer’s Chrome coverage.)

Google has posted an official online version of the Scott McCloud comic book introducing Chrome, its new browser, and the cover sports the Chrome logo. The logo reminds All Things Digital’s John Paczowski of a favorite gadget of the past, but I was also reminded, less literally, of a prominent logo of the present:

No, the Chrome and Windows Vista logos are not true twins, but they’re both round and shiny, with the same color scheme–red, green, yellow, and blue. (Okay, looking at the Vista logo, that’s more of an orange than a red, but close enough.) If you’d told me that the Chrome logo was what Microsoft had come up with for Windows Seven, I’d have believed you.

Microsoft has long used the colors as shorthand for Windows and related products such as Office. But I didn’t draw any immediate association between the Chrome logo and Google branding in general until I realized that it uses the same colors as the Google logo:

On some level, it probably makes sense for the Chrome logo to look a bit like the Windows one. Much of the punditry concerning Chrome is looking at it as a threat not to Internet Explorer so much as to Windows itself–a platform for Web-based applications that might, over time at least, do some of the things that we expect an operating system to do at the moment. You gotta wonder whether it’s just a coincidence that Chrome is launching first on Windows, or whether Google is in fact a lot more interested in introducing Chrome to Microsoft customers than to Mac fans or Linux types. (Of course, it’s more likely that there’s nothing nefarious going on: If most of the world uses Windows, it’s completely logical to get the Windows version of Chrome out first.)

Meanwhile, as I was writing this post, I was watching MSNBC coverage of Hurricane Gustav out of one corner of my eye–and happened to see an ad for Alli, a weight-loss products. Its logo looks like this:

And I just remembered the logo for Zoho, one of my favorite suites of Web-based apps:

Popular color scheme, huh?


Twenty Thoughts About a Microsoft Ad Campaign I Haven’t Seen Yet

The big news in the blogosphere today involves new details about Microsoft’s upcoming $300 million Windows ad campaign: It will apparently feature Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, use the slogan “Windows, Not Walls,” and begin on September 4th. I’m not a professional ad critic, and I can’t even play amateur critic before I’ve seen the ads in question. But I can’t stop my mind from racing ahead, either.

So without any further ado, lemme throw out ten initial questions, impressions, and reflections about the campaign and Windows marketing in general–all of which are subject to revision and retraction once the ads hit the airwaves in a couple of weeks.

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Okay, a Show of Hands: Just Who IS Using Windows Vista?

Microsoft says that Vista is fastest-selling version of Windows ever, and that folks who use it really like it. But you also hear stories like the reports that the majority of business PCs sold by HP in Australia go out with XP, no matter what the license states. Then there’s weirdness like Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission looking into whether Microsoft broke antitrust laws by (mostly) discontinuing Windows XP and thereby denying it to people who don’t want Vista.

And in the end, you–at least if you’re me, which I am–are still left wondering: just how popular or unpopular Windows Vista is, anyhow?

Of course, that’s really a series of questions with several possible answers, depending on how you do that math. Windows has multiple constituencies, including consumers who are buying new PCs, consumers who are upgrading existing machines, small businesses who are buying new PCs, small businesses who are upgrading, medium-sized businesses who–well, you get the idea. Every one of those groups has a different set of priorities. You could come up with almost any conclusion you wanted–but I’m still surprised that there’s not more real data out there on the OS’s success to date. It would make for good reading, whether it tended to confirm the general air of disappointment that pervades Vista, or to make it look like things aren’t quite that gloomy.

Anyhow, over at InfoWorld, blogger Randall Kennedy has an interesting post that reveals data from users of 3,000 users of Windows Sentinel, a monitoring utility that lets InfoWorld analyze aggregate data from the PCs of Sentinel users. (In theory, at least, those users should be workers in enterprises rather than home users or microbusiness owners.)

Kennedy reports that the data shows that a third of Sentinel users have downgraded Vista machines to XP, as shown in this chart I swiped from his post:

This striking data point has spawned a bunch of coverage on the Web, some of which sports overblown headlines such as WebMonkey’s “One in Three Advanced PC Users Dump Vista.” Um, this data is about users of Windows Sentinel, and while it may be telling data indeed, it may or may not be reasonable to extrapolate that the percentages apply to “advanced PC users” in general. Kennedy himself makes no broader claims about it, other than the very sensible one that it’s a bit of evidence that when Windows Seven comes along, Microsoft needs to make sure there’s a smooth upgrade path from XP as well as from Vista.

(Side note: Data about Technologizer visitors is fascinating, but clearly not representative of savvy tech users in general. Have I mentioned that five percent of people who have visited this site to date have done so on iPhones? Very cool; probably a sign that you’re an unusually sophisticated bunch; clearly atypical of the world in general.)

Add Kennedy’s factoid to the pretty long list of pieces of information suggesting that the world has yet to embrace Vista in the way Microsoft likely expected it to do fairly quickly. And if you find any stats from a source other than Microsoft that make Vista look better, lemme know…


Microsoft’s Post-Windows “Midori”–It Must Exist

It’s always dangerous to get too excited about far-off Microsoft products with code names–especially when Microsoft has barely acknowledged they exist. But SD Times has published a story by David Worthington on “Midori,” which Worthington says is the operating system that Microsoft is building from scratch for the post-Windows world, and even if you read it with a very skeptical eye, it’s a significant piece.

Worthington’s piece is at a site aimed at developers, is pretty technical, and is about pie-in-the-sky goals rather than specific features. I’ll do my best to summarize, interpret, and translate into plain English:

–Microsoft says that Midori is a research project; nobody knows when it might become a shipping one;

–Microsoft is working on a migration path to help folks move from Windows to Midori, as well as some means of running Windows apps in the Midori environment;

–Rather than being a desktop operating system, Midori will be distributed–that is, it’ll consist a bunch of components that can run locally on a traditional PC or remotely across the Net, and which can access data here, there, and everywhere;

–It’ll be designed to be more reliable, with a better understanding of what applications are doing and greater ability to prevent misbehaving apps from causing trouble;

–It will also put more constraints on software developers designed to prevent them from writing problematic applications in the first place;

–It’ll be designed for a world in which multi-core CPUs and other technologies enable massively parallel processing–computing jobs getting divvied up into smaller jobs that all happen at the same time;

–it will be designed to run on PC hardware or in virtualized environments;

–it will have sophisticated means of managing tasks and processes, some of which will relate to doing things in a power-efficient way, thereby making it an attractive mobile OS.

Again, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the details of Worthington’s piece, and some of my interpretation may be off; the above items are likely more possibilities than confirmed details, and could be just plain wrong. Don’t start lining up at Best Buy just yet–and even if Worthington has his facts right, be prepared for Midori to evolve into something radically different, or to die the ignominious death that many intriguing-sounding Microsoft research projects have died.

Robert Scoble, whose opinion I respect, says that anyone who thinks that Microsoft will have a brand-new OS ready in the next few decades is–Robert’s word–an idiot. (He puts it another way: Bill Gates won’t be with us by the time an all-new Microsoft OS debuts.) I’m not so sure about that.

I don’t know how solid the details of Worthington’s report is. But I’ve got to believe that the broad strokes are correct, and that Microsoft is working on something which it hopes to turn into a product in years, not decades. It’s so utterly clear that the Internet is the computing platform of the future and that basic aspects of Windows are profoundly archaic that Microsoft would be crazy if it didn’t have people starting with a blank slate and working on figuring out what’s next. And the world is changing around Microsoft at such a fast clip that it doesn’t have decades to get its act together. The scenario Midori describes is gonna happen, whether it’s Microsoft, Google, the open-source community, or some company that doesn’t exist yet that makes it happen.

Of course, “brand-new” is a tricky thing to define. I don’t know if there’s any actual code from MS-DOS in Windows Vista–in theory there shouldn’t be, since Vista descends from Windows NT, which was allegedly the first version of Windows written from scratch rather than bolted onto DOS. But there’s no question that Vista carries a fair amount of legacy that dates back to DOS. In the 27 years that Microsoft has dominated operating systems, there have been no true big bangs.

So perhaps Midori, in whatever form it does take, will owe a lot more to today’s Windows than Worthington suggests. Every time Microsoft has said it was working on a radical shift in the past, the end product has proven to be less than radical; if Midori follows that pattern, bits and pieces of it will end up being integrated into an OS that’s evolutionary, not revolutionary.

But to think that Midori or something like it doesn’t exist is to believe that Microsoft is unimaginably dense and complacent…


Microsoft’s Vista Mea-Sorta-Culpa

Over at ZDNet, Ed Bott has posted an intriguing item on Microsoft’s attempt to reintroduce Windows Vista to a world that seems to have its fair share of Vista skeptics. Ed noticed the image at left, comparing Vista doubters to flat-earth believers, on the Microsoft.com home page. (It wasn’t there when I just checked, so I’ve swiped Ed’s copy.)

Ed’s wondering if the image is a precursor of the message that Microsoft plans to spend $300 million hammering home in a new Vista ad campaign. If it is, he seems guardedly optimistic that it’s a smart move by the behemoth of Redmond. I’m not so sure.

For one thing, comparing people who aren’t so sure about Windows Vista to ignoramuses from a millennium or two ago doesn’t seem like the smartest strategy for initiating a conversation with said people about why they should give Vista a second look. (It is, however, consistent with the spirit of past Microsoft ad campaigns that did things like tell folks who hadn’t upgraded to the latest version of Office that they were dinosaurs. Me, I’m more likely to respond well to ads that compliment me than ones that mock me…)

And when Ed clicked on the flat-earth teaser, he arrived at a page headlined “Windows Vista: Look how far we’ve come” that’s as much apologetic as accusatory. The page doesn’t seem to be brand new–it refers to the June 30th cutoff for Windows XP sales as if it hasn’t happened yet–but I hadn’t seen it until Ed pointed it out.

After the jump. a quick summary of the gist of the page and more thoughts…

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