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Mac-heads savage Microsoft’s Lauren

The Apple community barks back at an ad that’s touched a nerve, claiming several elements of the clip are faked.

Methinks they doth protest too much.

The new Microsoft TV commercial, which went on heavy prime time rotate in the US over the weekend, features “spunky, cute-but-seemingly-obtainable” Lauren, who goes shopping for laptop - and chooses a Windows PC over a Mac after finding it half the price.

The clip, which zeroes in on Apple’s weak point, has hit a nerve with the die-hard Mac community, which has blogged a number of conspiracy theories about how the ad was "faked" (Fortune collects them here).

But as a counter-attack, it’s pretty lame.

The main focus is that Lauren is an “actress” as revealed by an AP report. But the Mac-heads should re-read the AP story. It doesn’t say an actress plays Lauren, it says Lauren is a real person, recruited via Craigslist, who was really in the market for a laptop. It just happens that as well as being an office manager, Lauren - as in the real-life woman - is a part-time actress too.

As the so-called revelatory AP article details, Lauren didn't know that responding to the Craigslist ad would lead to a commercial. She wasn't told until the shopping day.

But whatever.

What would it have mattered if Lauren had been played by an actress?

It’s not as if anybody really believes “Mac Guy” is really a computer, or Vince Martin actually works for Beaurepaires.

Another point of conspiracy (illustrated by stills of a bystander; can't beat stills for a good conspiracy theory): Lauren only spent seconds in the Apple Store. Again, whatever. It's not as if Apple would let Microsoft film a commercial in one of its stores - or vice versa.

Most hilariously, one Mac site notes that Lauren is wearing blue (she's in denim) and green (her scarf) to subliminally promote Microsoft's colours. Clearly, she's in on it.

A fourth point: HP’s $US699 Pavilion DV7, the model Lauren chooses, is cheap and nasty.

Mac-heads point to a vicious Computerworld US review of the DV7. But it’s a pretty OTT piece, written in the immediate, emotional (yes, emotional) wake of the controversy by one Seth Weintraub, whose blog is called Apple Ink. I’ve recently been using a model in the DV7 - with the Windows 7 beta - and its fine. US PC World has a more balanced review, noting a couple of the same drawbacks as Computerworld but giving it a very solid 83 out of 100 overall.

The Apple camp shouldn’t act so insecure.

There’s no question, at all that the average MacBook is streets ahead in design, and cool, than the average Windows notebook. The unibody models are breath-taking, and unrivalled.

But equally, there’s no doubt that they’re too expensive. But the key point is that Apple rips off its own fans as much as it puts off Mac-curious Windows users. Mac-heads, point your anger in the right direction.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions

Microsoft is looking scared. They're resorting to blanketing one of their mottos that we've heard for 30 years now, "Macs cost more!"
So why did the actress buy a VW, when there were cheaper options? She could simply say, "the VW is WORTH it", and no one would give her grief, right?
I guess you aren't allowed that freedom in a Microsoft world.
The prices of ALL pcs and macs has plummeted over the years, so to trot this point out now is silly, when it is less and less relevant.
You get a whole iMac for what people paid for a monitor alone years ago! Rather late to bring it up now, huh?
Plus, the mac has more advantages now than those old days, including:
- macs can run OSX or Windows, so they can't even use the old "there's more software" slogan. Heck.. why would they want to remind people of that advantage when iPhones have so many apps and are beating WinMobile!
- very few issues with any hardware like years ago, where you would need a printer with Apple Desktop ports, etc
- oh, and Lauren will happily buy her antivirus, and pay for subscriptions every year, and NEVER include that in the price.

I think it's telling that whenever Mac users object to something Microsoft says or does, it's dismissed as some hysterical hissy-fit!

The problem with the ad is that it's a terrible ad. First, she goes to the Apple Store before she starts looking for PCs. I get that it's for the setup, but jeez, why insinuate that she's settling for a PC? Second, she inadvertently sells the Mac by telling people that they can indeed get a Mac laptop for less than a grand. What are they thinking by putting that in the commercial! Third, by saying "I'm not cool enough to be a Mac person," they're reinforcing that it's cool to have a Mac! From a marketing perspective, that's absolute lunacy! Any gains they make are negated by these glaring mistakes.

The ad is ok, but Lauren is not part of Apple's target market. Apple targets higher end users. So how effective will these ads be?

Am I a high-end user if I want a dependable computer that is easy to use? If I want it to last more than two years before it falls apart, I'm considered high-end?

Penny wise - pound foolish. Or, you-get-what-you-pay-for. I can't understand why people don't think it applies to PC's. BTW, I love my new 17"MBP Uni!

Perhaps you should start on marketing 101 if you don't get the ad,
and John wow good to see fanboyism is still alive, who cares its an ad get over it!

The thing with PCs is that they're cheap, but only to buy. Owning a PC is a painfully expensive proposition - anti-virus software, patches, fixes, workarounds, rebuilds, etc. etc. etc.

Buy a PC and you pay for it again and again. Buy a Mac, and you pay for it once.

Which one is cheaper?

Am a Mac head and not a zealot.

Here is why I chose to switch over 6 years ago.

1. WinXX was beginning to consume too much of my quality time to keep it running. while I do not download unwanted software, device drivers, new updates have invariably slowed it down. In addition to this all the viruses and malware were beginning to eat into my productive time.
Computing time = 60% usage time + 40% maintenance time

Once I switched to a Mac, I have not wasted time maintaining my computer but just focus on the things that I need to get done.
Computing time = 98% usage time + 2% maintenance time
This alone to me was worth over several thousand dollars over a year.
Moreover, as icing on the cake; the Mac apps are leaner more good efficient and examples of UI design. Add the reliability of Mac OS X and the gorgeous industrial engg of Apple, you are bound to be a happy person. (Macs retain prices in the used market as well, whereas a PC would drop almost 40% in first month)

Again, everyone has their likes and dislikes. If you are happy with your PC laptop and do not mind the issues, lucky you.
Then those that drive a Merc know why they paid more than an Saturn to take them around from A to B.
Value!

Can't Microsoft let Apple have it's 5% (or whatever) of the PC market? Why is it so fearful? Fear Google, not Apple...you need them as your research lab.

No conspiracy theories are needed to prove the ad is fake.

There is glaringly obvious evidence that the commercial is a total scripted fake.

"I guess I'm not cool enough to be a mac person," is not a new jibe at Mac users from Microsoft.

Months ago when I first visited the Microsoft Photosynth website from my Mac, there was a similar message. "We're not cool enough to run on your computer yet, come back later" (It's been changed now).

Also, Lauren (if that's her name) was given the opportunity to keep a 17 inch laptop if she could find one for under $1000. What "real" person in their right mind gets a $699 computer, when she could have had a much better $999 laptop for free.

Microsoft was obviously trying to demonstrate what PCs were available for the lowest possible price. By doing that they totally destroyed any credibility that the commercial had.

Why is it that Mac users can't comment on a totally misrepresentative ad? Why do you call them insecure for - COMMENTING- then YOU WRITE A COMPLETE ARTICLE ON IT!!?

Someone is insecure, and it certainly is not the Mac users! These people are smart. Anyone buying MS products is supporting a convicted monopolist corporation unrivaled in it's greed and coruption. Apple is kicking Microsoft's sorry ass. Is that to much for you insecure, misguided, PC users? I think so.

Lauren intentionally misstates the name of the company owned stores which specialize in selling Apple products. She calls it the "Mac store." Maybe a minor point, but it is wrong, and methinks it has some kind of ulterior motive.

Last time I looked, Microsoft owned 9 million Apple shares, under a deal Bill Gates brokered to help out his friend Steve Jobs during tougher times in the 1990s. That is to say, Apple owes its survival, in part, to Microsoft's generosity. Oh wheels within wheels.

Yes, Lauren called the Apple Store a Mac Store. She's just not down with you Mac boys. Driving you crazy?

What people are missing is that Microsoft just made one big expensive ad about how the price of a computer they don't even sell costs less than a Mac. Come on.

I wrote about it in greater detail on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/cdhjwh

Fanboy fanboy fanboy fanboy - the most over used word in the "Windows Fanboy's Lexicon" (what are we at 3rd edition by now?).

And yet it still reflects embittered Windows users clinging on to an increasingly sad and frustrated product line better than the average Mac jockey.

It is perhaps predictable that when a well reasoned rebuttal is made to some pedestrian, pro-windows flimflam masquerading as journalism, the only response spluttered back is some Pavlovian frothing of "fanboy, fanboy" squeaking from the cheap seats.

Maybe it's time to grow up in this regard.

Lauren did not have to go to the "Mac Store" or take the drive from it to Best Buy, as Best Buy sells Macs.

Does this mean all PC laptops that sell over $699 are overpriced? Please inform Dell (yes Dell), Sony, Alienware, etc. I can not imagine these PC makers can be happy with this ad.

Mac users... take your macs and be happy with them and stop complaining any time someone gripes or gives mac products a negative review.
I use a freakin pc b/c they're cheap; parts are cheap and almost anyone can work on them, which makes it cheap. And in the 20+ years I've used pcs, the problems they have given me haven't made me break down and cry. It is so over stated it's pittiful.
Easy/hard to use... that's a bunch of bull... anyone's over 3 years old can learn to use any computer.
C'mon people, give a rest. If you're happy with your mac or pc, be happy. Stop crying and complaining. If you don't like the PC, then buy a Mac. If you think Macs are too expensive, get a PC. they're just freakin computers!
It's like the computer fanbase really needs to grow up. People should really start thinking about how little by little smart phones are making the use of laptops/desktops unnecessary.

"Once I switched to a Mac, I have not wasted time maintaining my computer but just focus on the things that I need to get done."

Thank you, paid Mac Publicist, but according to Mac websites, MacBook Pro users can expect to perform maintenance and hairpulling to deal with common problems of:

*"sluggish performance" while "using graphics-intensive applications" (omfG??!!)
*Battery Not Charging
*Trackpad Button Failure
*Keyboard malfunction
*Dead Laptop
*Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT chip "system lockups"
*DVD drive disc mounting problem
*battery "expansion"
*screen display "vertical line problem"
*firewire card purchase and installation (but I thought it came with EVERYTHING??)
*screen glare

Google those. And stop wanking on the fantasy of any brand of hardware being trouble free.

I use a pc and couldn't give a toss if Apple made a million ads saying Pc s are crap who cares? Are you really that incensed over a ad?
WHO CARES?
This isnt some impartial review its a MS ad!

I have a $1000 Vaio. Its a superb peice of kit, of as high a quality as a Macbook, and with a nearly equal number of software toys. I do not totally trust Windows - which is why it runs on Linux as primary O/S for work, and Windows for play. Linux never collapses, and my fave games and CAD apps run on Vista. Therefore - why bother with the Mac ? Back in 1994-1997, the Mac was an important computer for typesetting and graphic design, as at the time it was the only true CYMK platform available, and had excellent software such as Quark Express for seamless print integration.
But since 1999, the PC caught up - and has been gaining ground ever since. Linux in 2001 became a viable alternate platform, and not very virus prone. Also, high end apps fully caught up with Mac abilites with the release of Photoshop 6.0 in 1998, putting to rest the question of 'which is better'. With better integration, the modern PC talks to virtually all peripherals it comes into contact with - and the same is true of the Mac, 'Mac & PC with the Japanese Camera' TV adverts to the contrary - plus, if you own a high end notebook or desktop (like I do), the IBM compatible is as good as Mac - without the steep learning curve that the modern Apples have. I still don;t get the single button mouse - and clearly no-one else does either, since Apple has capitulated and has been making multi button mice for years now.

Ok, first things first. The girl in the commercial had a specific kind of computer she was looking for. She wanted a 17 inch screen, good power and wanted it to fall under $1000. Note that the cheapest MacBook is $999.99 for a 13 Inch screen, 2 ghz core2duo and a 120 gig hard drive with a 9400m Video card. This vs the HP DV7 which had everything she was looking for.

Yes, bit and pieces of the computer fall flat but for 100 dollars more and a trip to amazon.com she could of actually gotten something better for cheaper too... http://www.amazon.com/MSI-GX630-028US-15-4-Inch-Dual-Core-Processor/dp/B001L5U0RG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=pc&qid=1237942614&sr=1-1 That is one of the best Sub 1000 dollar Laptops/Notebooks on the market at the moment., but forget that for a minute.

Remember this, Lauren here had a very specific idea of what she wanted. Mac by no means could of provided what she had wanted. They dont do sub 1000 dollar Notebooks with a 17 inch screen. They do a 13 Inch notebook that starts at $1000 and shoots up to $1599 with a slightly different configuration and the screen size still remains tiny.

The only 17 inch Laptop/notebook Apple makes is $2800. Now I dont know about you but, I gather that is about $1800 over Lauren's budget and way to expensive...... Yes, the notebook i linked wasn't a 17 inch screen either, but it was far closer and better then paying about the same for a macbook that aside from the processor really has nothing on it.

To those screaming about Viruses on a PC or windows system as it were.... Please learn to use a computer properly. You know what I have protecting my computer? I have a changed DNS server, Windows Firewall, and 2 Free spyware applications. No AV no hefty beefy firewall no overall infection. The only problem I have had with this computer was a hard drive failing and that was because it was simply a bad drive. I replaced it for under $80 shipping with next day air.

And when they go on to say "Ohh, The PC gets much more expensive.", I say hogwash to it really... There are many free ways to protect yourself on a PC and Malware/Spyware these days is actually one of the bigger threats there arnt as many detrimental viruses that these apps arnt already detecting too... In fact the spyware scanner i run got rid of something a Paid for AV didnt and my spyware app is free." I have no real time protection.

Also a PC gets more expensive? Hmmmm, Really? Consider This almost any Mac, bar the Mac Pro cannot be upgraded at all. You want a new video card? Ohhh, sorry you gotta go buy an entire new Mac. Oh, Lets also not forget the New "Apple Mac Lineup" as it were... Yeah... who is calling shots over at apple?

First off how about the fact that they replaced pro level hardware for the Mac Pro with these piece of junk, GT 120's which are a ridiculous joke for a 2500 dollar machine. At least before you could get an 8800GT or the like. The best card on there is from ATI and they arnt really cross platform friendly and still have OpenGL performance issues which was why some people recently wrote a patch for something i play for people with ATi cards to try and improve perfromance. For 2500 bucks those systems are atrocious.

It'd die out.way to fast. It cant play current games at full spec at all even those that work on the Mac. Toss windows on it they wont work any better or even really be supported that well since they are an OEM card. Apple keeps making horrid decisions with their newer lineups and seems to be making these choices because the Mac/Apple fanboys will just keep buying regardless.

If I were a Mac User I'd be outraged that the new Mac Pros and newer lineup are horrible compared. If i had a mac pro i bought a year ago and was looking to replace it at this point I would actually look at a PC even if i was a hardcore Mac user. They arnt even near what they were and this is clearly a horrid joke.

The only reason these mac people can keep using the whole virus thing for PCs is because of how few people use macs. Its been proven over and over that macs are far less secure than PCs. Some people can hack into them in under a minute. It happened in the annual hacking comp thing that i cant remember the name of. Also a mac has the same exact hardware as any windows PC so any talk of not having to upgrade a Mac is stupid. Unless of course you look and see that really theres very few programs that work on macs that actually stress a modern computer. Its all shallow glitzy stuff that dumb people thing is wonderful. PCs are cheaper, have hundreds of thousands of times more programs, are more advanced. Anybody with enough sense to examine these things independently of their desire to be one of those alternative mac types that most people hate will see that a PC is much better

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