Microsoft Partners Warming To New Ads

Microsoft's new 'I'm a PC' ad shows a mix of famous and ordinary folks using PCs for a variety of work and leisure-related tasks, and makes its point about the usefulness and ubiquity of the Windows platform in a far less oblique way than the widely-loathed Seinfeld ads. In addition, the lack of footage showing Bill Gates shaking his moneymaker has made the new ads far less cringe-worthy, according to solution providers.

Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based Microsoft Gold partner, says that while the first round of ads with Jerry Seinfeld were quirky and odd, they succeeded in getting people to talk about them.

Sobel would like to see Microsoft's ads continue to zero in on refuting the very specific, targeted shots that Apple has been taking at Microsoft in its now-legendary 'I'm a PC, I'm a Mac' ad campaign.

"The new Microsoft ads do have a touch of humor and the right attitude," Sobel said. "My hope is that the series continues getting more and more specific about the benefits, much as the Apple ads have gotten very specific over their run."

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Adam Smith, director of marketing at Phase 2 International, a Honolulu, Hawaii-based solution provider, says Microsoft's ad campaign has thus far been refreshing and a step in the right direction.

"What I found interesting was how Microsoft is trying to change its image from the buttoned-down, behind the scenes software giant to more of a consumer friendly business that people can connect with," Smith said.

Some channel partners say winning the hearts and minds of consumers is a far greater challenge for Microsoft than demonstrating concrete business value, something it has been doing consistently for decades.

"Companies were upset with some of the challenge of Vista, but that just doesn't have much influence on the business applications they're going to bet their futures on," said Mike Belongie, vice president of sales and marketing at Axonom, a Minneapolis-based solution provider.

"My initial reaction to the new ad was that it's really well done, and I like the diversity of the message. At a subconscious level, I didn't like seeing Microsoft getting beat up by Apple like that," added Belongie.