Microsoft Restarts the Mac vs. Windows Debate

Scott Calonico

mac adThe Mac versus Windows debate has raged on for years, and bringing it up is a sure-fire way to start an animated discussion amongst IT professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Over the years, Microsoft and Apple have fuelled the fire of the debate with a series of advertising campaigns where one makes fun of the other. These include the famous “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” adverts that ran from 2006 to 2009.

Now it’s Microsoft’s turn to go on the attack, with a new series of three short adverts directly comparing the new Microsoft Surface 3 hybrid laptop / tablet with the popular Macbook Air line.

The three adverts each concentrate on different comparisons between the two machines. The first, named “Crowded,” focuses on the fact that the Surface 3 is both a laptop and a tablet, while the Macbook Air is “just a laptop,” and shows the Apple fan needing their Macbook Air, as well as an iPad and a traditional paper notebook, to enjoy the same functionality as the Surface.

The second advert is called “Head to Head” and is supposedly a performance comparison. However, as both the devices share the same principle specifications (an i5 processer, 128GB of solid state disk and 4GB of RAM), Microsoft instead focus once again on the touchscreen and stylus.

The final advert in the campaign is called “Power” and shows a Surface user running Photoshop using a touchscreen, and highlights that the device also has connectivity in the form of USB ports and a mini Displayport. This is quite ironic given that Apple were the first manufacturer to launch the latter. Subjectively speaking, the third advert has a rather confused message, as it seems to be comparing the Surface with the iPad, more than with the Macbook Air.

A Small Victory

There is one element of success in the Microsoft campaign, in that the adverts do successfully manage to make the Macbook Air look quite unwieldy and out-dated next to the shiny new Surface—even to a devoted Apple fan.

However, to date the Surface has failed to make any real impact in the marketplace. Some sources estimate that Microsoft have already lost $1.7 Billion in their endeavors to see the device gain traction. Needless to say, the success of the Macbook Air is at the opposite end of the scale.

An Identity Crisis?

Although the Surface 3 is undoubtedly an attractive and desirable device, it could fairly be argued that it’s actually trying to do too much.

While many online reviewers complement how well it all works together, several comment that the detachable keyboard and kickstand are actually rather fiddly and don’t compare in feel to a “true” laptop like the Macbook Air.

In effect, Microsoft are trying to attack Apple’s Macbook and iPad lines at the same time with one device, and so far the strategy hasn’t won a great many fans. The Surface 3 is undoubtedly a great step forward, but it may be too little too late, especially as rumors of a forthcoming “pro” iPad, capable of running full OS X applications, continue to spread.