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Microsoft and Apple: behind the square vs. cool ads

by Hugh Bicheno on 25 June 2008, 12:06

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Is it cool to say you are?

With Bill Gates retiring this week from day-to-day involvement in the company he shaped, a little tea-leaf reading seems appropriate. Media attention has been fixated on the Microhoo saga, but in the background an intriguing pas de deux has been going on between Apple and Microsoft (MS).

Apple’s recent ad campaign contrasting a studiedly cool youth representing a Mac with a buttoned-down individual representing a PC, singing the Vista blues and being generally uncool, might lead the unwary punter to think there was real rivalry between the two companies.

However . . . three weeks ago, Microsoft (MS) CTO Ray Ozzie told a New York Conference that open source was a far bigger threat to the company than Google. The company’s “culture of crisis” required a strong competitor, he said, and open source was it. Apple was not mentioned, even though Macs are selling like hot cakes and Steve Jobs’s launch of the new iPhone G3 was imminent.

Yesterday, MS released the final version of their Open XML file format converter for Office 2004, permitting users to open and save files in the OOXML format used by Office 2007 for Windows – and Office 2008 for Mac.