Microsoft: Cooler than it was a year ago

A new survey shows that advertising for Windows 8 and the touch-screen Surface tablet has helped raise product awareness and brand likability.

By Feb 22, 2013 7:32PM
Surface tabletBy Minyanville Minyanville on MSN Money

For more than a decade, Apple (AAPL) has been synonymous with technological cool, its MacBooks, iPods and iPhones the preferred gadgets by the trendsetting creative class. And Microsoft (MSFT), the red-hot brand in the '90s, has more recently been seen as the stodgy competitor whose products are highly valued only in the enterprise world, where utility trumps aesthetics. (Microsoft owns MSN Money.)

However, Microsoft has gotten an image boost in the past year, thanks in large part to heavy promotion of its new Surface tablets.

The changing perceptions around Microsoft is reflected in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, in which half of those between the ages of 18 and 29 said the software giant is cooler today than it was a year or two ago.

Of course, Apple has no reason to despair. The survey found that 60% of respondents thought that the Cupertino, Calif., company is cooler than ever. But the survey's surprise is that Apple no  longer has a lock on hipness.

Josh Johnson, a 24-year-old gaming fan, is among survey respondents who say they are seeing Microsoft in a more positive light. Microsoft has improved, Johnson said, since its release of its consumer-oriented Windows 8 products.

"It's more customizable, and not as rigid as an Apple phone, where you have to buy all the products from Apple," Johnson told Reuters. "If you want a ringtone, you don't have to pay iTunes. I know Apple is the cool, hip brand right now, but if Microsoft keeps coming out with new tech, I'm sure it'll be back soon."

Inroads with teens
Beside improving its image among young adults, Microsoft has become a a more desirable brand to teenagers. A January report from Buzz Marketing Group, an agency that specializes in youth marketing, found that teenagers find Apple passé and prefer devices from Microsoft and Samsung.

"Teens are telling us Apple is done,” Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing told Forbes magazine. "Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X and older (Millennials), but I don’t think they are connecting with Millennial kids. (They’re) all about Surface tablets/laptops and (the Samsung) Galaxy.”

Indeed, powered by the increasing popularity of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets, which have become formidable rivals to Apple’s market-leading product, Google’s (GOOG) Android was crowned the coolest tech brand in the Reuters/Ipsos survey, receiving a 70% score.

Since the launch of the Surface, Microsoft has promoted its tablets aggressively to younger demographics, buying product placements on CW’s youth-oriented TV series such as "The Vampire Diaries," "Arrow" and "Gossip Girl."

Will sales follow?
While Microsoft's marketing strategy appears to be paying dividends in terms of heightened product awareness and brand likability, it’s unclear if the Surface tablets have sold well, with Microsoft so far declining to release sales figures. 

There have been reports in the tech blogosphere that customers have been unable to get their hands on the tablets, but Minyanville’s tech columnist Michael Comeau points out that "a sell-out of a product isn't necessarily a reason to jump for joy, simply because they can be artificially created through limited supply."

Comeau continued, "The question I'll pose to you is this -- if the Surface Pro was selling in huge numbers, would the company not be announcing it to the world?"

Still, it bodes well for Microsoft’s long-term plans that teenagers find its products cool. Teenagers today will become working adults with purchasing power tomorrow, after all.

In the meantime, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been sounding a realistic note about Surface sales targets.

"Surface is a real business," Ballmer said this week in an interview with MIT Technology Review. "In an environment in which there's 350 million PCs sold, I don’t think Surface is going to dominate volume, but it’s a real business."
Feb 24, 2013 4:18PM

Took you an hour to figure out where control panel type of settings where and how to set them?   Come's really not that difficult at all. 


Although optional start menu look would probably help the  masses who don't want any change.  shrug...


I think it rocks!

Feb 26, 2013 7:25AM
Microsoft has terrific products for home and business, and their products aren't the flavor of the week.  There is so much software out there for your Windows OS, always something new!
Feb 27, 2013 1:58PM
Only to idiots. Their products are always a problem and their commercials suck. They will NEVER be as good as Apple.
Feb 23, 2013 5:08PM
 I provide support for a small grade school /middle school with about 90 computers/ servers in a  mixed Windows, Linux and Apple environment. My first impressions with Windows 8 was not positive. 

It seemed more difficult to set up and use as a real computer in networked desktop applications. The desktop tile does NOT give you a standard Windows interface. I ended up downloading a non microsoft interface from the internet with a traditional start menu and tree so I could get the workgroup settings, networked printers, software, etc. installed - after I'd wasted an hour trying how to figure that out in the Win 8 interface. After that addition, it was a 15 minute exercise. Why not just make the desktop tile the standard Win 7 desktop with start menu. Seemed ridiculous that I had to find something on the internet to get that functionality.

Also, some legacy software did not work in Win 8 that did in 7.  End result was that I moved up a computer lab upgrade into 2012 vs. 2013 while I could still get Windows 7 on those boxes. For touch screen applications, we have since increased our Apple purchases which personally I don't like (interface never did anything for me) and their products are more expensive and not as perfect as the fans say/we still have the occasional glitch in some ipad interactions. Plus, they don't integrate with the Windows server environment very well (shared folders, printers, etc). But, looks like for now it will continue to be a mixed network .

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