It is usually the Apple adverts which get the positive column inches both online and off, even when they go straight for the Vista jugular perhaps because they do so with no small dose of humour. Microsoft has done less well in garnering media support for its campaigns. Who can forget those godawful Seinfeld adverts and that Steve Ballmer I AM A PC video that someone saw fit to publish online?

The latest attempt to grab attention by Microsoft has been the Laptop Hunter series, perhaps better known as the Lauren and Giampaolo show. These turn the focus onto the value proposition, showing 'ordinary' users on a budget choosing Windows-based machines every time. The Giampaolo character was pretty obviously chosen for his 'cool' image and to try and rub some of that cool factor off onto the Windows laptop. Indeed, he even admits to being cool enough to buy a sexy Mac, but then goes on to explain why he is savvy enough to choose Microsoft instead.

It has been a long time coming, but Apple PR has at last responded. In a quote given to Business Week one Bill Evans says that "both Apple and Microsoft can agree... everyone thinks the Mac is cool." He goes on to stick the knife in by adding that "A PC is no bargain when it doesn't do what you want."

What grabs me about this comment is that it has been made at all, because Apple is notorious for not providing comment about Microsoft advertising campaigns. Could Microsoft actually have got the right angle, delivered in the right way to strike a blow with this latest marketing move? After all, we are in a recession and when money is tight the budget bottom line is more important than whether a laptop looks cool on your lap or not. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds in advertising terms, and if these will be more robust than the somewhat weak verbal sparring so far.

Meanwhile, both Apple and Microsoft continue to churn out products designed to lock their customers into their silos. The only way take back control over your computing is with GNU/Linux and other free software. Of course, the issues surrounding the freedoms to inspect, use for any purpose, modify, and redistribute software has great implications on our society at large. For example, proprietary software was used in both the 2000 and 2004 U.S. elections to manipulate votes. This could have never happened if the software running on the electronic voting machines (e.g. computers) were running free software.

In closing, it's time to stop pondering the lesser of two evils and wake up to reject them both. Learn about software freedom and then get involved.


but you're overlooking that since Apple uses only open standards and formats, there is little danger of vendor lock in.

the reason Linux was never successful is because there was no consistency, no focus within the Linux community... free software will never win against paid software, it's just not an approach that can work.

so join the Apple / Unix party or forever be angry.