2005.03.22 10:31 AM

Microsoft Thinks We're Dinosaurs

I agree with Mr. Scoble, who in February agreed with Mr. Dvorak, that Microsoft's marketing sucks.

The latest stinker is their new Office evolution campaign. You might have caught the 3-page ad in PC Magazine or Wired. This unfortunate waste of marketing resources succeeds in making three bold points:

  1. Our software sucks, so buy more of our software.

    The ad begins by pointing out that our teams are "out of sync", our information is "out of control", and our people are "out of the loop"! Oh my! How did this happen?! Oh, because we continue to use the Microsoft Office software we purchased awhile back.

    What about Office 2000 or 2002/XP? Are those products, recently purchased and rolled out, also allowing our businesses to fall down around us?

    How come they didn't tell us their software sucked back when we bought it?

  2. We're evolving, why aren't you?

    Oh, I don't know, probably because we sent you all of our money for your last product. Note to Microsoft: Touting you ability to evolve and improve using my hard earned cash, while questioning whether I have the brains to do the same, hardly inspires me to send you more money.

  3. You are a dinosaur. Buy our latest Office product, or go extinct.

    Could Microsoft have been any more disrespectful? Let's see, dinosaurs, which they clearly believe we are, evoke for me the following characteristics:

    • dumb
    • dead

    Well thanks for that.

Of course, I'm just a tech guy. So it could be I'm missing the subtle psych-prodding nature of the ad that will subconciously shame existing Office users into upgrading.

I like Microsoft Office. I've used, deployed, customized, and debugged every version they've ever released. And I appreciate that Microsoft, the public-money-making-mega-corp, needs to get folks off of older versions of Office to reduce support costs and grow licensing revenue. I don't have a problem with that and I think there are lots of good technical and business reasons for folks to do it. Feeling ashamed of themselves is not one of them.

Why doesn't Microsoft just describe their latest Office product and respect the ability of their intelligent customers to make sound decisions?


Well, you and I both know that the reason they can't just make the new version of their software and let the buyers decide is that there is no compelling reason to buy the latest versions! It's not longer true that 'most' people use only 20% of what Microsoft Word does. My guess would be that 99% of people use only 2% of what Word can do. The tailfins just keep getting higher.

This is why we've deployed OpenOffice.org at a customer site with 40 seats, soon to be a lot more. It's a savings of more than $10,000 and so far no problems. When OpenOffice.org 2 comes out, watch out Microsoft!

Eric G. Harrison | 2005.03.22 11:33 AM

Hey Eric,

In this case (i.e., Office 2003, with OneNote, InfoPath, and SharePoint), I think Microsoft has some legitimate, positive, differentiating features and benefits they could lean on to illustrate the advantage of upgrading. So, what I was trying to ask is, how come they don't?

I suppose, though, that you may be right, the question may be pointless, as those features may not really qualify as significant enough to upgrade. Whether they are or not, though, it seems clear Microsoft's marketing dept is infested with folks who think they aren't - else why the shame pushing?

I have got to get up to speed on OpenOffice. I saw it a long time ago as we were evaluating some approaches to generating Word-compatible docs from XML. I'm sure it's significantly better now. And, the price is right.

ewbi.develops | 2005.03.22 11:51 AM

Hi again -
I agree - OpenOffice.org 2 will be a great release! The *real* highlight for me is that OOo Calc can now do crosstabs with a *page* dimension (just as Excel does), so you can now have page, row, column in your crosstab. Oh, and of course Calc now goes up to 65,000 rows or so - the same as Excel. So, 2.0 will really be worth getting, once the bugs are ironed out.

Andy Elvey | 2005.03.23 02:09 AM

The best thing I saw in Office 2003 is the improvements to Outlook. It tried OneNote and didn't use it, so uninstalled it. I don't know what InfoPath and Sharepoint are going to do for a little guy like me.

The problem is that it's just not enough. I can afford to upgrade at home, but I have seven seats at work that I would have to upgrade. Now we're talking serious money. What about the company with 20 seats or 50? Still not big companies. It would be a heck of sales job to get those people to ugrade just because of the cost.

I don't think they can use the "features" sales pitch, but shame? That's clearly not the way to go. Not to mention all the creationists they've insulted.

Dick | 2005.03.23 11:37 AM

Oh, I hadn't considered the creationists!

I actually use OneNote a lot now. InfoPath, not so much. And SharePoint only at my clients. It's all so very expensive. It's hard to imagine how small shops justify the cost.

As Eric and Andy both pointed out above, OpenOffice.org is really looking attractive, particularly version 2, which is now in beta.

I noticed on your "Daily Dose of Excel" blog (which is very nice, by the way - subscribed) that you downloaded but haven't yet played with OOo. I look forward to reading your review of Calc. Here's the post:


Some folks posted some interesting comments there as well.

Thanks for taking the time to write, Dick.

ewbi.develops | 2005.03.23 04:14 PM

An interesting take (that pre-dates mine, I guess I should have searched first) from Steve Rubel:


"Dinosaurs don't sell Office suites, Microsoft."

Right or wrong, at least he offers some suggestions.

ewbi.develops | 2005.04.01 05:56 PM

Ew, it gets worse (also from Steve Rubel):


ewbi.develops | 2005.04.01 05:57 PM

Is Joe Wilcox serious?!


"The approach is refreshing, inventive and really gets to the essence of what Office is now all about--that the product transcends the old productivity suite model, embracing information, whatever its form or source."

Maybe my sarcasm detector is on the fritz again, but he sounds serious.

ewbi.develops | 2005.04.01 06:03 PM

Dave Burke avoids beating around the bush about this:

"Can't someone with some taste in Redmond (anybody???) pleeeeeease get rid of the goddamned dinosaurs????"


ewbi.develops | 2005.07.19 08:48 PM

Here's the obvious come-back:


Steve Kelem | 2005.10.05 10:19 AM

Ouch! Thanks, Steve.

ewbi.develops | 2005.10.05 11:37 AM


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» I have to copy this... from Kendal Slack's Blog
I know I shouldn't, but this blog post I found is just too good to NOT display it- please go to http://ewbi.blogs.com/develops/2005/03/microsoft_think.html to see Microsoft's marketing sucks (re: their latest campaign with dinosaurs, etc).Anyway, I know h [Read More]

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