Microsoft turns Siri against Apple in hilarious new Windows 8 ad

Who knew a soulless digital assistant could be so hilariously inept?

After coming out swinging a few days back with a Surface ad that focused on Office, Microsoft has a new ad that confronts the iPad head-on. And here's the crazy part: it's surprisingly amusing.

The commercial is a takeoff of Apple's iPad Mini piano commercial. In the Microsoft version--entitled "Windows 8: Less talking, more doing"--the company pokes fun at Apple's personal digital assistant Siri, all the while showing off the advantages of a Windows 8 tablet over the iPad.

"Sorry, I don't update like that," Siri says when the disembodied hand often seen in Apple commercials tries to get Live Tile updates from the iPad's grid of icons. "Sorry, I can only do one thing at a time," Siri chimes in again while a Windows 8 tablet shows off the Snap feature that lets you view two apps at once.

Finally, in what sounds like a moment of digital exasperation, poor Siri says, "I guess one of those things isn't PowerPoint. Should we just play Chopsticks?" Fade to pricing. Hey look, the Windows 8 64GB tablet is $250 cheaper. The message is clear: The iPad is a child's toy next to a full featured Windows 8 tablet running Microsoft Office; it's cheaper and it's better.

Now, forget all the things that are wrong with this ad. Even though Microsoft hasn't released the oft-rumored Office for iOS yet, Apple offers its own presentation software--Keynote--that opens PPT files just fine, and the iPad can work with PowerPoint Web apps in a pinch.

Also, the iPad is certainly a lot more useful than Microsoft's portrayal suggests, and it starts at US$500, not the US$699 mentioned in the ad. The 64GB version is US$699, however, and that's how much storage the ASUS tablet shown in the clip packs in.

But the commercial is amusing and informative about the advantages of Windows 8--and that's what's effective in advertising.

Apple's "Hi, I'm a Mac" ads portrayed the Windows PC as a product for pencil-pushing buffoons. It was a distortion, but it was amusing and it enumerated many of the Mac's selling points over a Windows PC. Again, that's what counts.

Microsoft may lose points on originality since this ad is a spoof, but the company's latest run of commercials is impressive for a firm that has a terrible track record when it comes to marketing. Who can forget the completely meaningless Seinfeld ads that started in 2008 or the oh-so-lame I'm a PC campaign from 2009?

But this iPad vs. Windows 8 ad makes you wonder how long Microsoft plans to hype the iPad as an 'Office-less' device. After months of reported sightings and speculation, Office for iPad is rumored to show up in fall 2014, according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. Is Microsoft just trying to get a few digs into its longtime rival before it's too late, or does this ad suggest a change in tactic that may keep Office off of iOS indefinitely?

You can view the new Microsoft commercial below.

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Ian Paul

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