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Microsoft expands anti-MacBook campaign with switching tips

With switching tips

Microsoft recently expanded its campaign against Apple’s MacBook Air with a website offering practical advice to people who have switched or are considering switching to a Surface Pro 3.

  • By Gregg Keizer |Computerworld US | 29 Dec 14
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anti-MacBookMicrosoft recently expanded its campaign against Apple’s MacBook Air with a website offering practical advice to people who have switched or are considering switching to a Surface Pro 3. The site resembled other ditch-a-rival-OS efforts that have long been a part of the personal computing landscape, including those Apple has used to convince consumers that switching from a Windows P.C. to a Mac is not difficult. Microsoft’s MacBook-to-Surface Pro 3 switching sites include general tips on using Windows, descriptions of navigation and operation equivalents of the former on the latter, an explanation of moving content from the Mac to the Surface, and advice on using Apple’s iPhone, iCloud, and iTunes on Windows for those who own other Apple devices.

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Microsoft has pitted its Surface Pro against Apple’s MacBook Air — the Cupertino, Calif. Firm’s lightest and thinnest laptop — since the Surface Pro first hit the market in early 2013, early on arguing that the device is a replacement for both a MacBook Air and an iPad. Later, as tablet sales stalled, Microsoft dropped the iPad comparisons and focused solely on the MacBook Air, contending that the Surface Pro 3 is a better laptop at the tablet-no-it ‘s-a-notebook in May 2014 debut and a string of humorous ads on television and YouTube. The Redmond, Wash. The company has also run MacBook Air buyback and Surface Pro 3 back-to-school promotions aimed at owners or potential laptop owners.

The switchers’ advice website was simply a pragmatic expansion of those marketing efforts. But it was also a stark reminder that Microsoft’s devices strategy operates from a position of weakness: Only an O.S. or device maker with a minority stake has reason to admit it must convince people to switch from a dominant player. Apple, for example, has long offered tips on switching from Windows to OS X because its Macs have been a puny part of the overall personal computer market. If Apple is to grow its market share, its best bet is to steal customers from the Windows world.

Not surprisingly, Apple’s Windows-to-OS X switching site has the same advice as Microsoft’s newer MacBook Air-to-Surface collection, including keyboard shortcut equivalents. Until the debut of its Surface line in 2012, Microsoft had not seen the need to dip into the switchers market. Microsoft has never disclosed Surface’s unit sales, but most analysts believe it sold fewer than one million in the most recently-reported quarter, its best-ever revenue-wise. Nor does Apple reveal the numbers of its MacBook Air notebooks sold; instead, it publicizes Macs’ sales overall, which in the September quarter totaled 5.5 million, a record.

Apple stopped disclosing the split between notebook and desktop sales in late 2012, but the former accounted for 73% of all Macs during the two years before. If that same fraction is applied to the September quarter sales, Apple sold approximately 4 million laptops. The MacBook Air is Apple’s bestselling notebook, so by that reckoning, it sold more than 2 million, or at least twice the number of Microsoft’s Surface. It’s unclear whether Microsoft’s pitch to MacBook Air owners is effective enough to tempt many to switch to Windows and the Surface Pro 3. Most analysts believe Microsoft will get a few MacBook Air users to change. But some think that’s beside the point. Comparing yourself to something viewed as the premium device on the market is a good idea, said in a June interview, Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy. You want to pick on a winner, not a loser.

William M. Alberts
William M. Alberts
Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Professional beer scholar. Problem solver. Extreme pop culture fan. Fixie owner, shiba-inu lover, band member, International Swiss style practitioner and holistic designer. Acting at the intersection of design and mathematics to save the world from bad design. I'm a designer and this is my work.

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