Finally! A Price War…maybe?!

There has finally been a development in the Mac versus PC war in a place where PCs have a distinct advantage. Microsoft has released a new ad telling the tale of Lauren, a young lady looking for a new computer. You can watch it here on the Microsoft site, but you have to have Silverlight (Microsoft’s free, but less-than-stellar video platform) to watch it there. You can also watch it here on Youtube. (I’m betting most of you are going to click on the second link.

In any case, Lauren is looking for a new laptop with a 17″ monitor, “speed” and a full-size keyboard. Although, with a monitor that big, it would be pretty embarassing if they couldn’t get a full-size keyboard. Microsoft says to her if she can find a computer under $1000 with those specs she can keep it.

First, she goes to the “Mac Store,” and finds the only laptop she’ll get for under a grand there has a 13″ screen. Looking forlorn, she says, “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”

She then goes to Best Buy. (The only way you can tell this for sure is by slowing down the video and looking at the employees’ shirts.) She quickly finds the machine she wants and gets it free from the folks at Microsoft.

There are a couple of things to take away from this new attack by Microsoft. First, but less importantly for what I’m interested in, Microsoft has basically conceded that their computers are not cool. This is an interesting move considering all of the effort that went into the “I’m a PC” campaign. I suspect this was something they were willing to give up for the overall thrust of the commercial.

Second, Microsoft is finally attacking Apple directly. For a significant amount of time, Microsoft’s strategy seemed to either be to simply ignore Apple and hope they went away or to promote their own brand and not acknowledge Apple as a competitor.  That has not worked too well for them, so it seems logical for them to take another approach.

Finally, and most importantly for my purposes here, they are attacking Apple on price, an area where Microsoft and PC have a significant advantage over Apple. For the same amount of money, you are going to get a significantly greater amount of processing power and memory from a Windows PC than from one of Apple’s products.

The hardcore computer users among us would say that people should continue that argument to its logical conclusion and use an open-source operating system like Linux and pay simply for the hardware that is needed. However, for the bulk of users this is basically irrelevant, since there are many people who would find many distributions of Linux completely foreign and gladly pay for the familiarity that Windows provides.

In any case, I am very interested to see what Apple decide to do about this attack. Will it unveil some new Mac vs. PC ad that turns this around on Microsoft? Will it ignore and just be content with being cool? Could they actually…gasp…lower prices?

In the current economy, price is becoming a very significant sticking point and if Microsoft were able to succeed in convincing people that buying Apple computers is an extravagant expense, they may have a significant chance in taking back some of the market share that Apple has slowly been taking from them, at least in the short term.

I will definitely be keeping an eye as this develops, and thanks to Channelweb for alerting me to this story here.

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