In my mind, Microsoft is vanilla. Regardless of what strategies they may have in place, they do not maintain a compelling or identifiable brand position in the minds of the general public. They may be the “default setting” of computing, but that’s a dangerous spot to occupy.
I’d ask the team at Microsoft to ask some blunt questions about who they really are. I don’t mean the bullshit “mission statement” responses here either; I’m talking brutal honesty. From a peripheral standpoint, my nutshell response to this situation would be something like, “We’re the most powerful computing force on the planet, and we’re acting like a bunch of sissies.”
And what do you do with this sort of an insight? Well, first off, you make “power” the one core Microsoft value, and you then message this to customers: “If you want pretty, glossy, cool stuff, buy a Mac. For those want speed, tools and interoperability, there’s Windows.”
Such a position could easily inform that visual style we spoke of earlier. The new Windows would be deliberately “anti-Mac”. It would be stripped down: void of superfluous glows, bubble-gum shadings, and unnecessary gimmicks. We’re talking about an OS that’s raw—built to squeeze out every drop of power the processor can muster.
The great part about this is that it’s almost true. (Sluggish Vista compromises this promise.) A key factor in my choice to primarily use a PC is that even my inexpensive machine is very fast. Anything similarly configured on a Mac would be more than five-times the cost.