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Apple releases 4 new 'Get a Mac' ads

PC Guy and Mac Guy are back at it again in four new ads poking fun at Windows and selling the Mac as a better computing experience.

John Hodgman (left and center) and Justin Long reprise their roles as PC Guy and Mac Guy in four new Apple ads. Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

Apple released four new Get a Mac ads Monday, continuing its nearly 3-year-old campaign tweaking Windows PCs weeks after Microsoft began firing back at Apple.

The new ads are available on Apple's Web site, and will no doubt flood the airwaves in due course. Apple is following its old playbook with the new spots, tweaking PC guy as played by John Hodgman as virus-prone (Conficker), unstable, and difficult to use.

Microsoft's recent ads have focused on price comparisons with Macs, and Apple makes a brief reference to that line of thinking in the "Stacks" ad, in which Mac guy (Justin Long) responds to PC guy's observation that the facial-recognition technology in the new iPhoto must be expensive by noting that it comes free with every new Mac.

But otherwise it's the same old strategy of pushing the Mac as an easier-to-use and more reliable computer, with few references to price. One new twist is that a controversy has already sprung up over some of the claims in the "Legal Copy" ad.

MacJournals actually took the time to transcribe all the fine print that's overlaid on that ad, which PC Guy says is necessary for him to make claims such as "PCs are now 100 percent trouble-free." Apple inserts a few slams at difficult-to-understand Windows components such as registry keys and virus-protection procedures, but also implies that some basic maintenance tips that apply to any computer, such as emptying the trash and downloading driver updates, are unique to the PC.

It's unlikely anyone watching the ad will actually be able to read the entire fine print as the ad whizzes by, but Apple has to be careful about how it advertises the Mac as "trouble-free," since when problems or confusion do occur with Mac OS X, customers can get disproportionately annoyed.

Still, the campaign's message seems to have had an impact over the past three years. While there's definitely something to be said for the "ain't broke, don't fix it" strategy, at some point Apple will need fresh ideas if Microsoft continues to hammer away with its own anti-Mac campaign.