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Is Microsoft Doing Too Much?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The software and desktop giant is at it again. It is fascinating to watch an organization that once defined its own market attempt to compete. But does Microsoft have a focus, or is it trying to use its wide net of resources and competencies to try to attack several competitors at once?

We think it is the latter.

Microsoft is racing for relevancy once again, but this time their quest is two-pronged. First, it announced the arrival of Windows 8, the acclaimed improvement over Windows 7 and the beleaguered Windows Vista. Second, and perhaps more exciting for consumers, Microsoft is getting more serious in the tablet arena and has launched the Microsoft Surface.

Naturally, both have been met with mixed reviews.

Windows 8 looks pretty sweet, but research done for a recent poll suggests that only a third of Microsoft users plan on upgrading to Windows 8 (compared to 50% who upgraded to Windows 7). And the Surface? Of course it is exciting to see Microsoft build a tablet, but in the tablet arena, it is the highest priced player coming in at $499.

The question is however, is Microsoft's focus dead on, or too wide?

Let's look at the ads. First is the Surface.

Okay, the ad looks like a marriage between Apple and Old Navy, but it is much better than recent years. Microsoft is trying to highlight the versatility, the youthful look and feel, and the user experience in less than a minute. Plus, the Surface itself can run Windows 8, Windows RT, or Windows 7, which no one would have known unless one looks it up.

And now for the Windows 8 ad.

Now the good thing about the ads is that they do look complementary. The users in both ads are using tablets, and though the ad pushing the Surface focuses more on the emotional side of being cool with a tablet, the Windows 8 ad showcases the neat functionality Windows 8 will empower to tablet to have.

As these campaigns continue to merge, will they have the desired effect on consumers? Will consumers see both of these ads and decide that the $500 Surface is worth more than the $249 Samsung Nexus 7 powered by Android, or the iPad? Can Microsoft put forth a winning argument? Another ad guy wrote recently too that he had his doubts.

When Microsoft announces its quarterly earnings at the end of the year, it will certainly be worth taking a look to see how these ads and Microsoft's re-branding attempts affect their revenue. We have our doubts, but this is only the beginning of the campaign. The more we see may change our minds.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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