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The 60-second spot, which debuted Thursday during the NCAA "March Madness" basketball games, features a thrifty consumer named Lauren, who's out to purchase a laptop for under $1,000.
Lauren's first stop is an Apple Store in Southern California, from which she emerges empty-handed. "I would have had to double my budget," complains the 20-something redhead. Lauren then heads for a big-box electronics retailer, where she buys a Windows-powered HP Pavilion laptop for $699.
Most Macs, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, sell for well above $1,000. "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person," Laura deadpans at the end of the spot.
The ads represent Microsoft's latest attempt to burnish its staid reputation and counter Apple's image as the brand of choice for hipsters and trendsetters. Lauren appears to be an attractive young professional who would be at home driving a Prius or sipping coffee at Central Perk, the fictional java joint frequented by the urban tribe members of TV's Friends.
Interestingly, the ad doesn't mention Microsoft's current operating system, Windows Vista. Vista has largely been a bust, and Microsoft appears anxious to move on to Windows 7, expected by many to be released later this year, as quickly as possible.
Microsoft last year ran a series of spots that featured company chairman Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The ads, however, were widely panned as pointless and inscrutable.
Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a hit. Vista has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users while businesses have shunned it outright. Users have complained about Vista's hardware requirements, intrusive security measures, and lack of compatibility with older applications.
Partly as a result, Windows sales fell 8% in Microsoft's most recent quarter, while Macs have been gaining market share in recent months.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).