Can Microsoft Catch Its Cool? - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
10/25/2007
10:52 AM
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Can Microsoft Catch Its Cool?

In a recent series of popular video ads, Apple portrayed itself as a young, hip guy challenging Microsoft's stodgy businessman. While that was an obvious marketing ploy, it is true that Apple (and Linux) users are often thought of as cooler than those who employ Microsoft Windows. How come?

In a recent series of popular video ads, Apple portrayed itself as a young, hip guy challenging Microsoft's stodgy businessman. While that was an obvious marketing ploy, it is true that Apple (and Linux) users are often thought of as cooler than those who employ Microsoft Windows. How come?Part of it may be that Linux and Apple users tend to feel a more personal connection to their respective technologies. Say something nasty about the iPhone or Ubuntu, and you're going to have dozens of enthusiasts rushing to their defense. Say something nasty about a Microsoft product, and you'll get a polite, "Excuse me, but it's not really all that bad." Well, not quite -- but there does seem to be a distinct difference in the amount of fervency.

Is it that Windows users just take their OS for granted (especially since they're more likely to be using it at work), while Linux and Apple users made a more active choice? Is it that Microsoft is a business standard while Apple has pushed for the consumer market? Is it about public perception of what the companies and the technologies are about -- or reality?

Microsoft has decided that it needs to find out. At Interop this week, Microsoft didn't only tout its latest products; it debuted a Web site called Who Are You?, especially tailored for an IT audience. Described as "a community for passionate professionals," the site is a place where the tech experts who are a large part of its user base can upload and view videos illustrating the kind of things they do when they're not at work.

The site was introduced at an Interop booth (titled the "Microsoft Performance Lounge") which gave out questionnaires that asked about such things as your wackiest project and caffeinated beverage of choice; exhibited posters featuring exhilarated silhouetted figures that bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Apple's iPod ads; and provided a stage at which IT professionals were invited to perform. (I passed by as a 30-something guy was enthusiastically rapping; I just hope he has a good day job.)

It's not a bad idea. At the very least, Microsoft could find out whether its user base of site developers, help desk staffers, network administrators, and other IT staffers is as devoted to its products as those who use Linux or Macs -- or, at least, whether they are willing to play, as well as work, in Microsoft's back yard.

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