Microsoft gets Common to deliver old message about tech

Commentary: In a new ad, the actor and rapper presents Microsoft's vision for technology. It might be familiar to some.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Singing the same old song?

Microsoft/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

So this technology thing.

You do realize that it's up to you what you're going to do with it, don't you? 

We humans are still in control (just). But it's a powerful tool, one that Microsoft wants to tell you is, well, very powerful.

In a new ad for the company, rapper and actor Common -- who's worked with Microsoft for some time -- declares that you have "more power at your fingertips than entire generations that came before you."

Technology is possibility, adaptability and capability, he says.

"We are living in the future we always dreamed of," he continues. Really? Did we dream of having our faces buried in gadgets , not being able to tell what's true from what isn't?

Still, he concludes with a question. All this power you have at your fingertips, "what will you do with it?"

I watched this new ad and it reminded me quite a lot of an old ad. An old ad from Microsoft. It was a very uplifting ad, part of a campaign called "Where do you want to go today?" 

And it's from, well, 1994. 

"This stuff is powerful," said the voiceover. She was referring, of course, to technology.

"Do something amazing," Microsoft encouraged. "We can't wait to see what you're going to do," it enthused.

The campaign was killed five years later, and Microsoft became a prosaic, business-oriented, software-pushing company that left people cold.

Here we are, so many years later. Under Satya Nadella 's leadership, Microsoft has become more open, more likable and more progressive.

So it's back with the same message, about which Microsoft didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. What will you do with all this astonishing technology that's being created?

Hopefully more than the last generation.