I'm a PC, she's a Mac. Are you a sucker?

Microsoft has launched the next phase of its US$300 million effort to convince us that Vista is not a dog -- while quietly pushing its replacement, Windows 7. What's wrong with this picture?

Why should Bill Gates, Jerry Seinfeld, and Deepak Chopra have all the fun? Microsoft's I'm a PC site now lets any Tom, Dick, or Mary share the spotlight -- for five seconds at least. The 'softies want you to upload a blink-or-you'll-miss-it video stating exactly why and how you're a PC. "Winning" entries will get to have their five seconds of fame on a TV commercial. (But, sadly, not a US$10 million paycheck.)

Because all the vids are vetted, there won't be any shenanigans like when MSFT did this two years ago with the ill-fated "Show us your Wow" video site. No hip swiveling semi-nude transvestites, for example, and no saying things like "I'm a PC because I've suffered severe head trauma."

This is yet another part of Redmond's US$300 million marketing campaign for Vista -- the one that started with Jerry Seinfeld, cheap shoes, and churros. Microsoft's highly paid marketing weasels have come up with yet another so-dim-it's-almost-brilliant slogan for this campaign, calling it "Life Without Walls." If you have no walls, there's no place to put the Windows. Does the word "duh" mean anything to you?

(According to AppleInsider, the same weasels created their first Apple rip-off "I'm a PC" commercials starring that John Hodgman lookalike using -- wait for it -- Macs. Surprised? Me neither.)

Meanwhile, at the exact same moment, Microsoft is pushing Windows 7 as a replacement/improvement for Vista. Early results on the beta are mixed; Tom Yager says it's full of small but welcome improvements, while Randall Kennedy says Windows 7 is just Vista in garters and a tight sweater. (OK, he didn't actually say that, but we know what he meant.)

Still, only one company could spend US$300 million to promote a product while at the same time quietly trying to shove it under the carpet. A corporation that posted more than US$4 billion in profits in its most recent quarter. A company with more money than God, but far less taste.

Are you a PC? A Mac? A mainframe running Cobol? And will we ever break this endless cycle of dependence on products from the greater northwest?

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Robert X. Cringely

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