I started a blog post three days ago that I haven’t made time to finish yet — in fact I hadn’t gotten much beyond a title and a link. The title was:
There might be something here
And the link was to the 2nd Microsoft Gates/Seinfeld commercial (nee, mini-sitcom)
And the funny thing was, after giving them crap the first time around, I thought this one was entertaining. And maybe like all the time I spent in high school and college literature classes, I went hunting in the plotline for some kind of theme, some kind of message, some kind of something And I thought it had that. Whether that was having a conversation about a private bank account, or the value of a bunch of coins, or a firewall to protect from monsters. Gates and Seinfeld seemed, well, human. And better, humans with answers. And their own questions.
I left the second episode, well, wanting more actually. And honestly, I can’t remember a time in recent memory where I wanted more from Microsoft.
I like (well, liked) Microsoft actually. I was an MCSE long ago, not that certification ever means jack squat, but I did my best to run NT 4.0 on laptops, and enjoyed it. I did Win32 programming, and marveled at real developer documentation vs. some horrendous excuse for docs in the form of a man page for printf. Sure I cursed the registry, but at the time it was better than 15 billion different configuration file formats scattered to hell and back on other OSes — but the then 3rd party sysinternals tools made that better. And hell, at some level, there was far better security in the DACL models on the memory and file objects in NT than there was in any other OS (too much actually — sometimes Owner/Group/World RWX is just ‘simpler is better’) I still think Excel can be a nice tool for analysis — and I use it all the time for ad-hoc cross table investigation.
The came Internet Explorer, and I can’t begin to tell you how much of a visceral hatred I have for that particular product. There’s even a not-so-tiny part of me that thinks the people responsible for the monstrosity that is IE 6 should be brought up on whatever trumped up charges can be found and dumped in Federal prison somewhere.
But as bad as IE is there is still something of interest in the company. Sure most of them have completely different philosophical underpinnings than what I believe, but as a group, the people in the company are some of the most open (about most things) than anywhere. Certainly more than Apple (who, despite my fanatical devotion to the product line, represents everything I hate about secrecy and seclusion).
So, you know, I could have rooted for the “common guy” — even if that was two incredibly rich spokespersons in a “moon base over seattle” and another that gets stuck in his own traffic.
But Microsoft, as inexplicably as being inexplicable about the Seinfeld ads, pulled them. With some cockamamie story about it being the “plan all along”. Lying is what they are good at, I suspect, so why not do more?
Maybe John Gruber is right — maybe it just sold on the fact that Microsoft’s brand is not much more than nothing. I’m not so sure, but I do think he’s right about them panicking. Which I don’t quite understand. Maybe it’s corporate philosophy now. Release something that just doesn’t quite cut it yet, and then pull the rug on it with as much spin as you can muster. I don’t know. I just know it’s plain out weird
The Seinfeld ads had people talking, and I think, given a little rope and even more time, would have created a brand connection that none of us would have expected. I think we relate to the crazy old grandmother/mechanic stuck in the house for 12 years — even when it’s parody, than some half-serious group of people cheering some fool on for using Office to create a TPS report. There’s parody and then there’s farce.
And the latter is what they end up with. Trading nothing that might have been something, for well…