Is Microsoft ready for people?

Microsoft pays bloggers to tout new mantra

"People-ready business." That's Microsoft's latest slogan from hell, and it probably would have passed quietly into the dustbin of marketing history had it not been for a recent blowup in the blogosphere.

In an effort to inject this phrase into popular usage (and no doubt raise its Google page rank), Microsoft asked a passel of A List Bloggers* to excrete blurbs on what this meaningless phrase means to them. Michael Arrington, Om Malik, Fred Wilson, Richard MacManus and a handful of others happily agreed to churn out some mush for Microsoft, which it later used in banner ads.

But what it really meant to these guys was income. Redmond paid the bloggers for every user who clicked through to the PRB microsite. And that caused other bloggers, lead by Gawker chief Nick Denton, to rightfully question their ethics. A spitball war has been raging ever since.

I'm not going to get into all the issues (PC World's Harry McCracken provides a fine summary of them here. But a big part of the problem is that "people-ready business" is such a lame slogan. (The full version -- "Dynamic IT for the people-ready business" -- is even worse.) Simply using it in a sentence makes you sound like an idiot.

Not that this is anything out of the ordinary. Ever since "Where do you want to go today?" Microsoft has been extruding some of the most tortured taglines known to marketingkind. Remember "Your potential inspires us to create software that helps you reach it. Your potential, our passion"? Or "Welcome to the social"? Or "The WOW starts now"?

Why not simply say "Clueless corporate clones struggling desperately to look hip"? That would at least have the benefit of accuracy.

Maybe this is why they can't seem to do anything right. Maybe a good slogan would fix all of Microsoft's woes.

Of course, Microsoft isn't paying me squat, so I'll be damned before I fix their problems for free. But surely some Good Samaritan out there will take pity on the US$44 billion behemoth and come up with something worth blogging about.

*Another phrase that should be flushed down the virtual oubliette.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld

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