I don’t spend a lot of time on Microsoft’s website, but today I happened to visit, and was greeted with this on their front page:

dope

This one ad, taking pride of place on Microsoft’s front page, is a showcase for just some of what is wrong with Microsoft.

First, the obvious thing is Microsoft desperately wants to be cool. So desperately. You can smell the desperation.

I can tell you now, using “pretty dope” on your website does not make you cool. In fact, this ad reminds me of some teenager’s father trying to act cool with his teenage son’s friends as they leave to go out partying on a Saturday night:

“Homies…that car is the shizzle! You dudes are dope!!! Where da bitches at tonight? Yo?” (flicks fingers in an attempt to make some cool gang sign he saw on Law and Order).

Mentioning “Twitter” does not make you cool either. You can’t just throw around the latest trends – It makes you look like a try hard.

But there is more. There is always more.

“More reviews”?  Was that a review?  Well, I guess it was.  Just not a particularly good one. A random tweet from a random anonymous user with a one line comment. That’s the quality I’m looking for in a review about an OS that I’m about to drop AU$200 or more on.

But the quality of the copy is nothing compared to the details. Take a look to the right of the ad. We have a number of buttons:

Screen shot 2009-11-05 at 10.32.49 PM

Screen shot 2009-11-05 at 10.33.05 PM

Screen shot 2009-11-05 at 10.33.15 PM

So what’s wrong? Well, first we have different size buttons. This is sloppy when the buttons are all left aligned and not vastly different in text length or position, and even if you argue it is because the text is shorter in some, then you’ll notice inconsistent spacing (between the last letter and the arrow), so that argument doesn’t explain the size variations. And finally, inconsistent capitalisation (“Learn More” versus “Find out more”) – I mean, that is beyond sloppy.

It’s all part of the Microsoft experience – sloppy and inconsistent. Don’t forget this is on the front page of a multi-billion dollar company with an advertising budget of 1.4 billion dollars in 2009 – almost 3 times the budget of Apple in that same year! Compare their ads. Compare their websites!

It’s about sweating the details. It is why Apple’s software is a superior experience to Microsoft’s. It is why the iPhone blows away Windows Mobile. Microsoft still doesn’t get it.

If you are reading this and you still don’t get why those buttons are bad, you see nothing wrong with the ad text, and you can’t smell that desperation, you probably deserve to be using Windows. I can offer you no more.

Pretty dope

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