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After Apple legal threats, Microsoft quietly changes ads

Last week, Microsoft bragged that Apple's legal department had contacted them and asked that one of their 'Laptop Hunters' ads be pulled. But now the Windows maker has modified the ad to reflect Apple's current MacBook Pro prices.

According to AdAge.com, Microsoft "quietly tweaked" the advertisement and removed a reference to a $2,000 MacBook Pro. In the modified version, the customer, Lauren, doesn't mention the computer's price.

"We slightly adjusted the ads to reflect the updated pricing of the Mac laptop shown in the TV advertisement," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. "This does not change the focus of the campaign, which is to showcase the value and choice of the PC."

AdAge.com continues: "There is precedent for marketers being forced to yank outdated comparison ads. In a classic case, Ford pulled commercials for its Freestar minivan in 2004 after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Chrysler's legal department pointing out that claims in the Ford ads were outdated."

Speaking last week at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 in New Orleans, La., COO Kevin Turner insinuated the advertisements, which portray Windows PCs as a better value than Apple products, have proven so effective that he received a phone call from Apple. Turner called it "the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business."

"I did cartwheels down the hallway," Turner said. "At first I said, 'Is this a joke? Who are you?' Not understanding what an opportunity. And so we're just going to keep running them and running them and running them."

While Apple didn't comment on the matter, some at the time read into Turner's comments and hypothesized that Apple's problem came with one ad in particular — the one Microsoft eventually changed. In that ad, Microsoft showed a MacBook Pro that cost $2,000. But, since early June, it has been replaced by a newer model that costs just $1,700. The advertisement, with old pricing, continued to run on TV well after the price drop.

For the past year, Microsoft has ramped up its advertising of Windows in a $300 million campaign with acclaimed advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The "Laptop Hunters" ads play up the notion that PCs offer more choice and value than Macs.