As Ronald Reagan once famously said, "There you go again." Microsoft has unleashed some new ads in Canada that suggest if you buy a PC laptop instead of a Mac you can use the money you save to take a trip to Hawaii.
Saving money? That sounds good... until you look at the comparisons. Microsoft's chart compares various Mac laptops with PC counterparts from HP, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, Asus and others. True enough, Apple products are often more expensive than Windows laptops at first glance, especially if you don't perceive any value in running Mac OS X and avoiding aggravation, malware and compatibility headaches. While Windows 7 is pretty good, I use it alongside Mac OS X and find that there is no comparison.
Above you'll see Microsoft's pairing of the 11" MacBook Air with three US$300-ish netbooks. While the price comparison is stark, the fact is that these netbooks are not even close to the MacBook Air where it counts, and to put them in the same category is silly at best and deliberately deceptive at worst.
The Core 2 Duo chip in the MBA is faster than the netbook Atom or E-Series CPUs, the 64 GB "HardDrive" in the Air is a super-speedy SSD that charges up performance even further, there's no comparison on battery life where the Air shines; really the only comparable spec on these machines is the screen resolution. Oh, and that HP Pavilion DM1 sitting in the middle of the lineup? I'm sure it's nice enough, but it weighs in at 3.46 lbs (1.56 kg) -- 150% as massive as the slender, featherweight 2.3 lb (1.08 kg) 11" Air. How much do you have to save on chiropractor bills before the 'inexpensive' netbook stops being such a bargain?
Microsoft runs these campaigns when it gets worried about its OS market share slipping. Now that Apple is ahead of MS in profits, tablets, and smartphones, maybe that concern is justified. Of course, Apple slammed Microsoft many times with the "Get A Mac" campaign, but at least the ads were funny and generally grounded in truth -- working off of Apple's underdog status in the PC market, rather than playing defense as MS is doing here.
Microsoft, as it has in some past campaigns, is doing its best to mislead, and trying to sway would-be buyers on price alone when in fact MacBook Air buyers aren't looking for the cheapest possible laptop. It would have been really interesting to put those netbooks alongside the iPad in a similar graphic, but no way does Microsoft want to plant the seed of doubt in consumers' minds that they might consider a speedy, light, 10-hour battery Apple tablet instead of a tiny, underpowered Windows netbook.
I doubt these new ads will put a dent in Apple's ascendant Mac sales, but they will fuel the inevitable flame wars between advocates for each platform.