All Surface, no substance: Microsoft’s new ads target MacBook Air

All Surface, no substance: Microsoft’s new ads target MacBook Air

Looks like Microsoft is up to its old tricks again!

Not happy to simply put out the Surface (and, to be honest, who can blame them?) and then let the market decide if it’s interested, the good folks at Redmond have decided on a new ad campaign that skewers Apple and its “You’re more powerful than you think” strap line.

The gist of the new ads is, essentially, that Microsoft’s tablet can do so many tasks that you won’t need to carry around both a notebook and iPad with you. One of the spots, for instance, compares the 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM of both the Microsoft Surface 3 and the MacBook Air, and then notes that you lack the touchscreen functionality of a tablet, and users shouldn’t even think of trying to remove their MacBook’s screen.

While poking fun at Apple isn’t exactly a bold new gambit for tech companies, it does at least show that Microsoft is broadening its target a bit: since previous years’ ads focused on comparing the Surface with the iPad, rather than the MacBook.

Then again, when fear of the iPhone 6 is enough to make Microsoft ditch its own plans for a Surface Mini, maybe picking fights with iOS devices isn’t your best tactic.

Hey, at least Microsoft still has that respectable plan of begging MacBook users to switch to a Surface by bribing them with $650, right?

The other two ads in Microsoft’s new campaign can be seen below:

All Surface, no substance: Microsoft’s new ads target MacBook Air

All Surface, no substance: Microsoft’s new ads target MacBook Air

  • NitzMan

    I actually quite like the Surface Pro 3. Take all the fanboyism out of the equation and as a pure tech fan, you’ve got to admit that it’s a brilliant piece of engineering.

    • Jurassic

      Microsoft’s vision for personal computers hasn’t really changed in the past 13 years. All that time, that vision has not been successful.

      In 2001, Microsoft introduced the Tablet PC. It was a tablet, with a removable keyboard, a stylus for writing recognition, and it ran the then current Windows desktop operating system.

      At the Tablet PC introduction, Microsoft proudly announced several big name computer companies who had committed to producing Tablet PCs. But within a few years, those manufacturers stopped selling their Tablet PCs due to lack of sales.

      In 2012, Microsoft introduced the Surface. It was a tablet, with a removable keyboard, a stylus for writing recognition, and it ran the then current Windows desktop operating system.

      At the Surface introduction, Microsoft proudly announced several big name computer companies who had committed to producing Windows 8 tablet PCs. But within a two years, most of those manufacturers stopped selling their Tablet PCs due to lack of sales.

      Microsoft’s Surface tablets have generated almost $2 Billion in losses over the past 2 years.

      Albert Einstein famously said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

      • NitzMan

        Actually the original XP tablets didn’t have a removable keyboard. It had a laptop form factor with a screen that swiveled. That operating system was not optimized for touch, however Windows 8 is. That screen was resistive while this is capacitive.

        Heck I just said that I like the Surface. I have a Mac mini, MacBook pro, an iPad and an iPhone. I’d like to try something new. Whether it succeeds in the market or not,I personally think it’s a fanatic device and I’m not trying to get you to like it.

        I do however think that many people underestimate Microsoft. Look at Windows Phone for example, people talk of its small market share, which is larger than that of the Mac.

        This is the Cult of Mac website,a place to despise all that’s not Apple, but I think that e should be a bit more intelligent and open minded.

      • Jurassic

        NitzMan: “Actually the original XP tablets didn’t have a removable keyboard”

        Actually, that is NOT true.

        There WERE Tablet PCs with removable keyboards, including the HP Compaq TC1100 and the Compaq TC1000.

        “That operating system was not optimized for touch, however Windows 8 is.”

        That is true, but just about all Windows desktop applications are NOT optimized for multi-touch at all! (Not much point in having a desktop operating system that uses multi-touch, but most applications still require keyboard and mouse/trackpad).

        “I’m not trying to get you to like it.”

        I never wrote that you were trying to get me to like it, did I. If you feel that way, it is purely your own fabrication.

        “Look at Windows Phone for example, people talk of its small market share, which is larger than that of the Mac.”

        A) That is not true (Windows Phone is only less than 3%), and B) it is ridiculous to compare one product category with an entirely different one. There is probably a larger market share for Windows Phone than there is for BMW cars, but that is a senseless comparison. The valid and logical comparison is to compare Windows Phone to iOS and Android!

        “I think that we should be a bit more intelligent and open minded.”

        Being open minded is accepting that another person’s opinion is different than yours, but not feeling threatened by it.

        (͡° ͜ʖ°)

      • NitzMan

        I’m not at all threatened by your opinion. I’ll admit that I wasn’t aware of those detachable keyboard models, but the Wikipedia article mentions that they were pretty crappy, but so were all of those overpriced tablets. It’s not surprising that it disappeared.

        There are two runtimes in Windows 8, Win32 and WinRT, the latter being touch optimized, but the Surface Pro also works with a mouse and keyboard making the former usable as well. Hence the laptop/tablet combination.

        As for the market share portion of my comment, I was attempting to point out that despite the low number of Macs, it’s still a viable product. World wide iOS is only about 16%, but it generates way more income than Android. So does that make Android the more successful OS? My point is, don’t write off Windows Phone based on the 3% market share. An extension of that is don’t write off the Surface Pro.

      • Jurassic

        “An extension of that is don’t write off the Surface Pro.”

        I have already chosen to write it off… just as Microsoft is writing off its $2 Billion loss on Surface.

        (͡° ͜ʖ°)

      • NitzMan

        Well they also wrote off losses on the original Xbox, but it’s a very different story today.

      • Jurassic

        The Xbox “story” is not all that different from the Surface “story”.

        A quote from an article in Forbes:

        “Amidst this organizational change, Xbox continues its long history of losing money – as much as $2 billion per year. And early 2014 results show that Xbox One is selling at only half the rate of Sony’s Playstation 4, with cumulative Xbox One sales at under 70% of PS4, leading Motley Fool to call Xbox One a “total failure.””

        And a quote from an article in International Business Times, 2 days ago:

        “Now Microsoft has just announced that after being on the market for a little over eight months, the Xbox One has lost the company $400m.”

      • kikiriki

        I read an unrelated article today on wired and a part of it described your comments spot on.

        “We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves—the things we read and watch have become hyper-niche and cater to our specific interests. We go down rabbit holes of special interests until we’re lost in the queen’s garden, cursing everyone above ground.”

        The guy likes the new Surface, just deal with it.

  • FootSoldier

    I just think with the creation of Windows 8, Microsoft has gone in the wrong direction. Too take too OS paradigms(METRO/Desktop) and mesh them into one, is the worst idea in OS history. I use a Lenovo win 8 pc, and lots of times its as if both metro and desktop fight against one another to become the dominant half of the OS. As it stands there no convincing reason to use the metro side of windows 8 on tablets or desktops, because there is no developer enthusiasm at all. Microsoft should have been, and still needs to be brave enough to either separate metro and desktop or go all the way with Metro only on all there platforms. Apple was brave enough to do this, and the result is that IOS is becoming a pretty powerful platform not because of there features but because of the developer devotion and enthusiasm they’ve gained. These developers are making some seriously powerful apps, more powerful year over year, and because metro isn’t its own platform you don’t see this with Windows at all. After IOS 8’s release i’ll surly be getting an IPAD because of these reasons, and also because as a whole its become a really good platform.

    • NitzMan

      You’re correct, they screwed up big time with Windows 8, which led to the sacking of some top execs who thought they knew better than everyone else. It appears Windows 9 is on track to right the ship. The UI will adapt to the form factor, which will be a lot more pleasant.

  • M_Mk3

    Hey Microsoft, newsflash, I can zoom in from my trackpad! :o Go F yourselves.

  • Vaughaag

    Ive used a Pro 2, it could not keep up with a Toughbook CF18 when it came to receiving data from GPS and 3g theodolites, constantly crashing and freezing. Maybe the Pro 3 is amazing but personally I would never buy one or recommend one.

  • josephz2va

    50% of which the average user won’t use on a Surface Pro 3 but they will on an iPad.

  • teeboy

    Well, I used MBA, Ipad and Surface pro 3. I am a big fan of apple hardware. But, I’ve got to give it to Microsoft here. Surface Pro is a brilliant piece of engineering. I think Microsoft is well within it’s rights to do product comparisons. Apple did it, Samsung did it, why not MS?

  • Merckel

    The Surface is a bona fide dud, and I don’t expect a Surface Pro 4. Microsoft is reported to have lost 1.7B in the last two years putting lipstick on a pig. Now, Microsoft is spending ad dollars to try and convince us it’s not a pig.

    Yes, I’ve tried all three versions of Surface — the kickstand and flappy keyboard prevents it from being used on your lap, unless doing yoga positions is your thing.

    If it oinks like pig and squeals like a pig, it’s a pig…

    • NitzMan

      Actually I hear the surface pro 3 is doing quite well. The original surface which was the purely ARM version made the loss, which is why they canned that product. Heck they ran the original Xbox at a loss, but just look at where that is today. I wouldn’t write Microsoft off just yet.

  • Merckel

    I see Microsoft talking points have made it to the comments section.

    “brilliant piece of engineering…”

    lol

  • Anthony Velazquez

    God, I feel sorry for anyone that chooses that surface turd over a MacBook air….lmao

  • Jurassic

    TV ads are very expensive, and these Surface ads are just “throwing good money after bad”*.

    The concept behind these ads rest on the basis that Microsoft thinks consumers are dumber than they really are, which is insulting to the viewer… That is losing proposition #1.

    Losing proposition #2 is that any (very expensive) product advertising that compares your product with a specific competitor’s product is instant failure, because a) it shows that the product can’t stand on its own merit, but MUST compete with a competitor’s more successful product, and b) it displays and talks about the competitor’s product, giving it free advertising.

    *The Surface has been a commercial failure for Microsoft, losing $2 Billion for the company so far.

  • Anton Shiryaev

    Surface Pro has inferior graphics – MBA uses HD5000, with twice the exec units and actually fast enough to play some games. In my personal experience, HD4400 was often not enough. $1800 model comes with HD5000, but that’s something to pay for any computer, IMO. My MBA was $1200.
    Surface Pro has a physically smaller screen, and Win8 scaling will probably leave half the legacy apps unreadable.
    Surface Pro has worse battery life then the MBA.
    I tried the keyboard with the battery and the Type Cover and both keyboards are terrible and unusable on the lap. Trackpads are too small, and not all apps can be controlled with touch only. Combining input and output devices on a computer is like making tea in the toilet, in my opinion.
    That said, Surface Pro is the only tablet I would actually consider buying for tablet use – in addition to my MBA and my gaming rig.

  • Dahc Recneps

    Doesn’t matter, the new MacPad© is gonna kill the surface. Runs FULL freaking OS X, QHD, only 1.7 lbs. Plus, has a touchscreen and runs all iPad apps. Also, the pen is freaking magic, which is why I’m getting one for school.

  • Damien Girard

    it reminds me of this commercial – http://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/12661079

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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