Archive for October, 2009


Three reasons why Microsoft is cool again

PC and MAc

One of the points that differentiates me from other bloggers:  I’m old enough to remember when Microsoft was cool. They were the college drop-out geeks who conquered the world.  Then David turned into Goliath. And nobody likes Goliath.

But I just get this sense that Microsoft is recaputuring its mojo. Let’s see if you agree.

1) Those ads.  As a marketer, I loved the ninja move they put on Apple.  Apple’s ad campaign famously defined their competitor as a pasty-faced, clunky slug.  Instead of fighting this deeply embedded image, Microsoft incorporated it into its own ads and flipped the “Apple cart” by highlighting the breadth and depth of the Microsoft user base.  This was simply inspired marketing.

2)  Real service.  The last time I went to an Apple Store with a technical problem, they said “no.”  I never encountered that as a service option before or since.  They would not fix my product and would not even recommend somebody who could.  The only option was “you’ll have to buy a new one.”

I have had enough hair-pulling customer service disasters from both companies to make me repulsed by the thought of a service call. But my last experience with Microsoft was very different.  I got a live person on the first ring, which left me momentarily paralyzed.  The India-based technical leader took control of my computer and solved a debilitating problem in 10 minutes.  But when he sent me back to customer service for a refund on a purchase, I hit a stone wall. The technical leader, who had not abandoned the call, jumped in and asked if I could be put on hold while he addressed the problem. Thirty seconds later he came back on and explained that my money had been refunded.  I was impressed that the technician took accountability for the entire customer service experience and had enough authority to do the right thing on the spot. Well done.

3) The Bing Thing.  The best companies constantly re-invent themselves with Madonna-like regularlity.  But Bing out-Googled Google by upping the ante on search performance features. Consumers rewarded Microsoft’s  innovation by moving to Bing in droves. It’s no easy feat to grab share from a famous and entrenched market leader. Google will respond. Microsoft’s aggressive and innovative market entry will speed the evolution of the platform and benefit us all.

In a few days, Microsoft will release their latest operating system evolution.  Here’s hoping the Big Guy stays on a roll.  We need that.