Wow, I was really surprised last week when Steve Ballmer made his statements about Apple being a $500 logo, but now I think it's even more surprising -- and dangerous -- that Microsoft wants to take the Kia/Yugo slant in their advertising.
Their most recent ad with the lady that starts off wanting to buy a Mac and ends up buying a PC because it's cheaper sells one and only benefit:
"Buy our product because we're cheaper."
As a business owner this is a game I never want to play. I never wanted to be the cheapest product, just the best. With Microsoft taking this tack, they open themselves up to easy attacks by Apple and also by Linux vendors.
Easy Apple comeback
From Apple's perspective this is a very simple comeback. Microsoft shows the woman all the way up to the point of purchase, and she's happy to have paid less for her PC.
All Apple has to do is show life from that point on -- or turn back on some of their old commercials, like the one with the yoga instructor -- and say, "Huh, hope you were happy to save a few bucks up front", and it's game over, point to Apple.
Opening the door for Desktop Linux vendors
Even worse is that with Microsoft positioning themselves as the cheapest system available, they're now vulnerable to attacks from Desktop Linux vendors, who are cheaper than Microsoft. If Microsoft's point is "All operating systems are equal, why pay more?", this is an easy play for Ubuntu and any other Desktop Linux vendor:
"Why pay the Microsoft tax when we have a desktop operating system and we're cheaper than they are?"
You wouldn't want your competition positioning you this way
I'm admittedly a Mac OS X fan, but even if I was more impartial I think Microsoft has made a huge mistake positioning themselves like this. As a business owner you never want your competition to position your company like this, and then you do it to yourself -- wow.