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A sad message, indeed.

Microsoft to fix Vista woes through marketing.

According to InformationWeek, Microsoft has finally come clean and admitted its Vista mistakes (tip o' the antlers to Daring Fireball).

But what's an admission of guilt without spreading some blame around?

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is now acknowledging it screwed up with its initial launch of Windows Vista, and is ready to try again.

Oh. OK. So, wait, Windows will be five years late instead of four now? Huh? How's this going to work exactly? Has it used its vast resources to somehow turn time back?

"We broke a lot of things."

We broke your applications. We broke your hardware. We broke your collectible figurines. We broke your Aunt Elma's hip...

"We know that, and we know it caused you a lot of pain."

Particularly Aunt Elma.

"It got customers thinking, hey, is Windows Vista a generation we want to get invested in?"

Yes. They're thinking that. A year and a half after Vista's launch. That's awkward, isn't it?

If only there were some other operating system...

So Brad Brooks, Microsoft's VP of Windows Vista consumer marketing, fessed up publicly this week.

Wow, bummer detail you pulled there, Brad.

"Say, Brad, this thing you're going to do at our Partner Conference next week... are you familiar with the Japanese tradition of seppuku? Here's an informative pamphlet."

Speaking at a keynote address at Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Brooks signified that Microsoft was ready to admit mistakes and reposition itself to tell a better story about Windows Vista...

Yes! Because it's all about the "story" about Vista. Well, a minute ago it was about breaking things. But sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make a story omelette. Or something.

"You thought the sleeping giant was still sleeping, well we woke it up and it's time to take our message forward," Brooks said.

We didn't think it was so much "sleeping" as we thought it was "lumbering". Lumbering drunkenly down the hall smashing things and blaming everyone else when it woke up in a pile of its own filth.

In the coming weeks and months, Microsoft will launch a huge advertising campaign that's been reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Finally! Yes, please, Microsoft, make the pain go away through the power of marketing!

"We've got a pretty noisy competitor out there," Brooks said of Apple whose "I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC," commercials criticize Windows Vista. ... "We're going to start countering it. They tell us it's the iWay or the highway. We think that's a sad message."

"iWay or the highway"? Microsoft must buy its tone-deafness in bulk from Costco or something. "I know our slogans are meaningless and our product names are vapid, but we got a great deal on them!"

Overall, the message Microsoft hopes to impart is that Windows Vista is ready, and that Microsoft will no longer take a back seat while word of mouth and Apple drive negative messaging about the company and Windows.

Look, the Macalope has actually been somewhat sympathetic to Vista. It's got a good security model -- certainly better than Leopard's as poor Brad rightly notes -- and a decent enough user experience. And he knows the audience was Microsoft partners who are looking for any kind of help they can get to mask the smell of Vista flop sweat.

But Microsoft made its bed by over-promising for six years and then delivering an OS that forced a lot of uncomfortable decisions. Marketing isn't going to clean this mess up. The horny one really isn't sure what is, frankly, but the "Get a Mac" ads aren't responsible for businesses choosing to stick with XP. Microsoft is.

The InformationWeek piece portrays this as an "about time" move, but this is more "my dog ate it" territory.

UPDATE: some delightfully shrill piling on can be found here and here.