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Microsoft "regrets" Mac-to-PC ad

The software giant's "Confessions of a Mac to PC convert" was a short-lived conversion. The ad, which took a cue from Apple, is already dead.

Microsoft, in the wake of an Apple Computer ad campaign to woo Windows users, briefly ran a similar ad of its own.

An ad, titled "Confessions of a Mac to PC convert," was posted to Microsoft's Web site last week. The article purports to be a first-person account of a writer who decided to switch from an Apple Macintosh computer to a PC running Windows XP.

"Yes, it's true," the woman is quoted as saying. "I like the Microsoft Windows XP operating system enough to change my whole computing world around...Windows XP gives me more choices and flexibility and better compatibility with the rest of the computing world."

Although the ad appears to be from a "real person," similar to the Apple campaign, Microsoft said it commissioned the posting from a freelance writer who was paid for her work, although the company claims her experience was genuine. Microsoft also said that the photograph of the "convert" was actually a stock photograph.

The ad was pulled down from Microsoft's Web site Monday, following an inquiry from CNET News.com. Microsoft said the posting, made by Microsoft's software marketing group, was a mistake in judgment.

Microsoft "regrets the action" and said it did the right thing in removing the page. The company has no plans for an ad campaign featuring Mac to PC "converts."

Apple launched its "switcher" campaign in June. Web testimonials, print ads and TV commercials all featured people that said they had switched from a PC to a Mac. Apple's TV commercials are directed by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, director of "The Thin Blue Line."

An Apple representative declined to comment on the Microsoft ad.

While both Apple's "switchers" and Microsoft's "convert" are both unequivocal lovers of their new computers, Apple's "switchers" tend to be plain spoken. By contrast, Microsoft's "convert" sounds a bit like Microsoft's own marketing department.

Microsoft's At one point, the "convert" says she prefers Microsoft Office to Apple's AppleWorks program.

"There's no equivalent to the versatility of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint," the "convert" says. "Toolbars and menus customize themselves to the way I work. I wouldn't know how to function without the Track Changes and Comments features of Word."

Best of friends and foes?
Over the past few months, the friendship between Apple and Microsoft has been strained. A five-year deal under which Microsoft was committed to developing Mac titles recently came to an end.

Microsoft has reiterated its commitment to the Mac, but has also said it would only commit to new Mac development efforts, one version at a time.

Last week, Microsoft announced that it had transferred Kevin Browne, the general manager of the Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU), to an unspecified job in the company's Xbox unit. A new manager has not yet been named.

Browne had criticized Apple's efforts to sell Mac OS X. Microsoft said in July that it had only sold 300,000 copies of the Mac OS X version of Office--less than half of the 750,000 copies it had expected to sell.

Recently, executives within Microsoft's MacBU have stated that they have been happier with sales, though they have declined to provide new sales figures.

Microsoft also recently launched an ad campaign, valued at more than $1 million, touting the Mac OS X version of Office.