Sunday, August 31, 2008

It’s a joke: In a Linux world without walls who needs Windows?

Microsoft are poised to launch a new $USD 300 million advertising campaign this week, starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld among others. The marketing types responsible are intending to counter Apple’s successful "I’m a Mac" line, but the slogan picked out is simply on the wrong foot from the start and is thwarted by Linux immediately.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft have enlisted the help of popular comedy stars. I3 years ago I received a promotional VHS video cassette spruiking the virtues of Windows ’95 starring Jennifer Anniston and Matthew Perry, aka Rachel and Chandler from “Friends.” Sadly, my friends and family still to this day have to put up with me repeating a segment of dialogue that occurred when the duo approach Bill Gates desktop computer.

“Click on My Computer,” says one.
“But your computer isn’t here.”
“No, Bills’ My Computer.”
“You call your computer Bill?”

The other 29 minutes and 57 seconds of the video have escaped my mind, but “Bills’ My Computer” has forever etched itself into the finite storage space of my mind, squeezing out such things as how to perform basic vehicle maintenance.

Fast forward to the present day and neither Friends nor VHS are with us. Come to think of it, neither is the Seinfeld show. However, the war between operating systems is definitely hotting up again.

In my schooldays we debated the virtues of the highly-inspired Commodore 64 over the rubber keys of the Sinclair Spectrum, the lack of software for the Microbee, the price of the Apple II and the wide range of other personal computers of the mid to late ‘80’s. The more business-oriented computer mags hinted at the existence of such things as CP/M and UNIX. Some kids even had IBM clones in their households but in the gaming environment of youth they were the unlucky ones; it was uncommon for these to come standard with sound cards or game controllers.

Time marched on and with the death of 8-bit computing, the fading away of CP/M and the obscurity of PC-based UNIX systems, the battlefield levelled to Microsoft Windows vs Apple Macintosh. The revolutionary Amiga was gone, and so too the Atari ST.

The Macintosh always had its legions of fans but suffered from a hefty pricetag and a lack of a clone market. By contrast Microsoft enjoyed massive success by selling licenses to every single PC manufacturer. It really was the popularity of IBM, and the desire of manufacturers to get a piece of their pie, that made Microsoft what it is today.

A decade ago Linux had made its debut but was considered firstly a hobbyist system, then later a system for experts. It hadn’t reached the heights of usability that distros like Ubuntu are becoming famed for.

Apple turned their fortunes around with the release of the iPod. This elegant, massively hyped mp3 player became a hot item for geeks and fashionistas alike. It raised the public consciousness of Apple. It introduced the Apple flare for design and usability and seeded many a thought that Apple computers were worth a try.

So, what about these ads then?

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