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Microsoft unleashes retail talking points attacking Linux, Macs


More colors and fine tuning

The training continues with a fourth page highlighting more software, the latest games, and the ability of retail employees to "fine-tune" their computer recommendations to their customer's needs. "With a Mac, your customers' choices are limited," the training materials say.

Microsoft has used this tack as the basis for its "Laptop Hunters" ad campaign. An analysis of the fine-tuned options that generic PC buyers portrayed in the ads ended up with reveals that customers like actress Lauren actually got a poor quality screen, lower screen resolution, slower WiFi, no Gigabit Ethernet, no digital audio ports, more bulk and more weight.

Limited to options provided by Apple, customers have no way to end up with a PC sporting old, obsolete WiFi and Ethernet networking; a poorly engineered, heavy system; or a laptop screen purporting to be 17" while only offering the resolution of a 15" display. Microsoft doesn't note this in its training.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


Personalize the PC

Next, Microsoft notes that "Windows 7 comes with many new themes, so your customers have more options for making their computer reflect their personal taste." This includes backgrounds, "glass colors," unique sound schemes, a custom screen saver, and a "custom photo slide show on the desktop."

How factory-supplied wallpapers help customers "reflect their personal taste" is not specified, but Microsoft also omits that Mac OS X not only supplies its own backgrounds and screen savers (including photo slide shows), but also provides a graphical programing language in the free Quartz Composer, which enables non-programers to visually remix their own content to build their own backgrounds, screen savers, and even video effects for iChat IM and Photo Booth. Screen savers can pull data from a live RSS feed or from websites such as Wikipedia.

Windows 7 might allow users to tint their Vista-Aero glass effects, but Mac OS X enables users to actually customize their video chats and build interactive Quartz Compositions that can be used by various applications. Mac OS X also supports customized Audio Units for creating music and sound effects, which can be used in the included GarageBand or the more advanced Logic pro apps for serious music composition. Personalization isn't achieved by coloring inside the lines with a set of corporate crayons.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


More software choices, particularly from Microsoft

Microsoft next presents the horrors that await customers who switch to a Mac: "they will have to: live without most of the latest games and some software titles, re-purchase Mac versions of software hey already own for Windows (if they're available), accept that many Mac title are not as full-featured as Windows version (e.g. QuickBooks Pro)."

A series of graphs point out the percentage of the top 25 PC apps that are available for the Mac, starting with 44% of business and productivity apps (Microsoft notes that its own Access database is not available for the Mac, but doesn't mention that alternatives such as FileMaker Pro and Bento are).

Among top PC communication and Internet apps, Microsoft says only 28% are Mac-savvy, specifically noting Outlook, a title Microsoft only offers in a very reduced version for Mac users under the name Entourage. Ironically, Microsoft has announced publicly that it will soon be selling a new version of Outlook for Mac users, but it doesn't note that anywhere in its anti-Mac training session. It also doesn't point out that it ships its own Office suite for Mac users.

In finance apps, Microsoft says the Mac only has 48% of the top PC apps available. Microsoft cites Quicken 2009, again highlighting the terrible job Intuit has done in supporting Mac users. Its CEO, Bill Campbell, also sits on Apple's board, making this stab particularly painful. However, the company has shipped QuickBooks 2009 and has announced plans to support Mac users better in the future (including support for Online Payroll), something that Microsoft has no reason to emphasize. A ground up rewrite of Quicken for Mac, designed to take full advantage of new Mac OS X features, is slated for next year.

Among personal productivity apps, Microsoft only gives the Mac 8% of the top PC titles, citing "HGTV Home Design and Remodeling." On Amazon, that title was given as many one and two star ratings as it got in five star ratings, with top users' reviews posting comments that called it "disappointing" and "so difficult I've given up."

Microsoft doesn't mention the free iLife applications that ship with the Mac, the Mac-only iWork suite of apps Apple sells at shareware prices, and Apple's Pro Apps that are also exclusive to the Mac, including prosumer and professional versions of Final Cut and Logic. Some of those features are brought up in Apple's "Get a Mac" ads, which have helped induce the PC switching wave that has put Microsoft on the defensive.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


More Games

The next punch is Microsoft's strongest blow, pointing out that Macs natively only run 12 of the top 25 PC games. It might seem surprising that the figure is even that high, given Microsoft's strength in PC gaming. However, in touting its proprietary DirectX 11, which is only available to the minority of PC users running Windows Vista/7, Microsoft also forgets that Macs can also run Windows natively at full speed.

Microsoft makes no mention of BootCamp. Isn't Microsoft in the business of selling Windows rather than PCs? That may be the case, but Microsoft knows that users who switch to the Mac have the option to run Windows, but will actually create more demand for Mac-only titles. That's already happening. This forces Microsoft to support sales of generic PC sales against the "Mac," making no distinction that Macs can also run Windows, and therefore have no problem playing PC games.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


INCORRECT!

Microsoft now leads retail employees through three review questions to see if they've been paying attention. If "your customers have less to learn with a Windows-based PC" is rated as a myth rather than fact, the training replies "INCORRECT" in red.

The "real facts," Microsoft says, is that "most of your customers have already used Windows ether at work or at home," and that "new features, security and reliability make Windows 7 a familiar, but better choice." Since the vast majority of PC users are actually working with Windows XP, why will the new features of Windows 7, which look a lot more like Mac OS X than XP, be more familiar to them? Microsoft doesn't say.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


If employees agree that "Macs are a better value than a PC because you get more for your money," they again get reprimanded with full caps in red ink. Again, Microsoft says "its [sic] possible to get a PC with the same hardware specs as a Mac and save up to $300. Windows Live is free. Apple's online service costs $99/year." Time to move to the next question.

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


Anyone who questions that "Windows 7 is compatible with more software and games than a Mac" is again hit with red marks. "Many mac software titles are not as full featured and available as the Windows versions," Microsoft says, adding that, of the top 25 PC games, "only 12 are available on a Mac [OS X system that doesn't have a BootCamp Windows partition]." (Some of those details were not actually presented in Microsoft's training materials, of course.)

Windows 7 talking points against Macs


On page 3 of 3: The Quiz