Traditional computer makers are desperately seeking to reinvent themselves today. In a move to spruce up the image of its Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft recently created a series of “Windows Training Camp” ads for Asia, posted them to YouTube, then quickly pulled them down. The ads, described as “kooky”, “bizarre” and “relatively insane” don’t feature any direct reference to the OS in question, let alone a computer.
Instead, in “Beautiful and Fast”, women are seen racing to fully apply makeup in ten seconds. The winner, who succeeds in nine seconds, apparently represents the attractive Windows 8 user interface. In “The Power of Touch”, three men attempt to carve up watermelons with their bare hands. The winner, who produces a delicate bird design, is the touch element of the OS. Finally, in “Multitask”, two men manage to play piano while simultaneously playing ping pong with paddles attached to their backs.
The dialogue is meanwhile voiced in an incomprehensible, presumably hybrid Asian language unrecognized by speakers of various Asian tongues.
Like these ads, the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system has generated mixed reviews since its launch last October. And the company hasn’t been snowed under by license sales either, with the current total of license purchases around 100 million. Essentially, Windows 8 is an OS with touch-screen characteristics, suitable for both PCs and tablets. It has been criticized for emphasizing “design over usability”.
Many users have missed the familiar Start button among other Windows features. Details are thin, but rumors are circulating that the launch of Windows 8 Blue, potentially later this year, could alleviate some of the hang-ups most mentioned by users.
Coverage of the upcoming Blue update has swung between the extremes of comparing it to Coca-Cola’s disastrous attempt to launch New Coke 30 years ago, to simply treating it as a routine update. What happens once Blue is released is yet to be seen. But it seems clear that Microsoft is trying hard to put a new spin on its traditional OS.
With the recent “training camp” ad campaign, the issue of “design over usability” – style over substance? – seems to have surfaced again; this time in the realm of marketing.
“We created these online-only social videos for the Asian market, where they were well-received,” Microsoft said in a statement.
Well received or not, it seems the videos have now been summarily pulled from YouTube, as they no longer play – but not before attracting hundreds of thousands of views each.