Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Warning: Macs might spoil your fun

August 10, 2010: 6:48 AM ET

Microsoft's latest pitch on the Web for Windows 7 is a six-point Apple attack ad

Source: Microsoft Corp.

Where are John Hodgman and Justin Long when we need them?

It's been more than nine months since Apple (AAPL) issued its last three "Get a Mac" ads -- aired, not coincidentally, the day Windows 7 launched -- but the sting still lingers in Redmond, Wash.

On Monday, Microsoft (MSFT) took another crack at countering Apple's three-year television advertising campaign by adding a new section to its Windows 7 website -- Deciding between a PC and a Mac? -- that offers a point-by-point comparison designed to put the Mac in the worst-possible light.

The site is getting warm reviews from PC-oriented blogs (see here and here) for pointing out the Mac's glaring limitations. (For starters: no Blu-ray players, TV tuners, Memory Stick readers or built-in 3G wireless.) But Apple aficionados are likely to find risible Microsoft's claim that PCs are more fun or that Macs are harder to learn to use.

As AppleInsider points out, Apple's Why you'll love a Mac does much the same thing from a different point of view. But no Web campaign is likely to ever be as memorable or effective as a good "Hello, I'm a Mac" gag.

Below: The full text of the Windows 7 campaign. But first, a 3:44-minute trip down "Get a Mac" memory lane.

Microsoft's answer:

Macs might spoil your fun

There are some things you simply can't do out of the box with a Mac like watch, pause, rewind, and record TV like a DVR.

It's showtime - You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. You can with PCs running Windows 7.

Game on - Most of the world's most popular computer games aren't available for Macs. And Macs can't connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play.

Direct TV connection - Most Macs can't hook up to your TV unless you buy a converter dongle. Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen.

Macs can take time to learn

The computer that's easiest to use is typically the one you already know how to use. While some may say Macs are easy, the reality is that they can come with a learning curve. PCs running Windows 7 look and work more like the computers you're familiar with, so you can get up and running quickly.

Working smoothly - Things just don't work the same way on Macs if you're used to a PC. For example, the mouse works differently. And many of the shortcuts you're familiar with don't work the same way on a Mac.

Use Windows 7 to simplify your life - Windows 7 was designed to make it simpler to do the tasks you do every day, with features that the Mac doesn't have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it easy to view two documents side by side.

Touch and go - Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and folders—using nothing but your fingers. PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Macs don't work as well at work or at school

If most of the computers in your office or school run Windows you may find it harder to get things done with a Mac.

Sharing documents and spreadsheets - If you use Apple's productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly.

Giving presentations - You'll have to buy a separate hardware dongle to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily.

Protecting your drives - On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your stuff can be safer wherever you go.

Macs don't like to share

At least half the fun of having a computer is sharing the stuff that matters to you with other people. This is harder to do on a Mac.

Securely share your movies, music, and photos - With a Mac, it's harder to set up secure sharing for your photos, music & movies, documents, and even printers with other computers on your home network. With HomeGroup, it's easy to connect all the computers in your house running Windows 7.

It's easy with a PC - On a Mac, you have to manually set up photo sharing, manually set up music and movie sharing, manually set up file sharing, and manually set up printer sharing. It's easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they're running Windows 7.

Macs might not like your PC stuff

Plain and simple, if you're a PC user, lots of your favorite stuff just might not work on a Mac. With PCs outselling Macs 10 to 1, the reality is that most computer software is developed to run on PCs.

Hassle-free files at work - Apple's productivity suite file formats won't open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users.

Programs you already know - If there's a Mac version of a program you need, you'll have to buy it again and relearn how to use it on a Mac.

Macs don't let you choose

PCs give you a lot more choice and capabilities for your money. You can get the PC you want, in the size and color you want, with the features you want. You just don't have as many options with a Mac.

Loaded with features - You can't get a Mac with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that aren't available on even the highest end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, Touch, and mobile broadband.

Available in your favorite color - Macs only come in white or silver. PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a range of price points.

More digital media - With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the videos and music stored on your home PC while you're on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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