Web Culture

5 Microsoft Video Ads Sure To Make You Cringe

Dave Parrack 21-03-2012

I have ripped on Apple quite a bit here on MakeUseOf in recent weeks. Partly because a company of that size and stature deserves to get taken down a peg or two from time to time, partly to counter the weight of Apple fanboys on the Web, and partly because, well, it’s fun, quite frankly. However, in the spirit of fairness there are other tech giants ripe for a little gentle ribbing.


Microsoft is the other tech giant started by a geek with too many ideas swilling around his brain than is normal or healthy for a human being. Bill Gates makes an appearance on one of the videos below, as does his partner in crime (Vista) Mr. Steve Ballmer. All of these videos have one thing in common, however: they will make you cringe. I guarantee it.

Gates & Seinfeld

It’s a classic from Microsoft’s recent history, but for all the wrong reasons. This video represents the moment Microsoft turned to Jerry Seinfeld for comedic inspiration. And enlisted former CEO and current chairman Bill Gates as Seinfeld’s foil. It is widely regarded as one of the worst technology commercials of all time, and it’s as cringeworthy as they come.

In many ways Gates is the anti-Steve Jobs, disregarding fashion and frivolity for function and fundraising. Which makes him one hell of a guy Is Bill Gates Better Than Batman? [INFOGRAPHIC] It's the question that has been asked time and time again through the ages - is Bill Gates better than Batman? Or does the Caped Crusader come out on top every time? Well let's examine... Read More but also not the best man to sell product. The ad does have a message – why pay more for something that does essentially the same job (PC Vs. Mac) – but it’s so subtle as to be incomprehensible to ordinary consumers.

Steve Ballmer Sells Windows XP

That’s the former CEO, but what of the current CEO? We have already seen ‘5 Funny Videos Starring Steve Ballmer 5 Funny Videos Starring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer A lot of people really don't like Steve Ballmer. Perhaps because he's Mr. Microsoft, or because he was (for many years) Bill Gates' lickspittle underling. Whatever the reason, he's a figure of fun in a... Read More ‘, but there is always another lurking in the wings waiting to be discovered. This one shows Ballmer selling Windows XP. Rather aggressively, as it happens. Oh, and Crazy Eddie also makes an appearance.

The really cringeworthy part is actually when Ballmer departs and lets ‘Rick B.’ take over. Rick is apparently the President of a major corporation, though which one shall forever remain a mystery. Could it be that he’s actually an actor and the testimonial he gives is nothing more than a script delivered for a few dollars? Say it ain’t so!


Office 2010: The Movie

Here’s an idea: To sell Office 2010 Microsoft Office 2010: Ultimate Tips & Tricks Office 2010 includes many improvements over Office 2007. As with all Office releases, however, these improvements are far from obvious to the average user. Read More why don’t we frame this piece of software as a movie and make a trailer for it? Because that won’t come across as desperate in the slightest. Especially if we make sure not to use a load of film-making clichés or employ extremely dislikeable actors to portray the extremely dislikeable characters.

Some people actually like this commercial. I guess it does show that Microsoft has a different side to it and can approach advertising its products in new and imaginative ways. But it just makes me cringe, personally. The final voiceover seals the deal.

Songsmith Commercial

According to Microsoft Research, “everyone has a song inside.” No they don’t. Some people may do, but I would personally rather most of them kept it to themselves. Because not everyone can be Elton John. Thankfully. Stop trying to write lyrics, stop trying to sing when you clearly possess no skill, and stop trying to impress Simon Cowell on live television.

But wait, Songsmith means you no longer need any discernible talent in the singer-songwriter department. Instead just sing in the general direction of your PC and let the software do all the work. But before you do you need to watch the commercial someone thought would actually show this idea in a good light. If you don’t cringe within the first minute of the clip then there is something seriously wrong with you.


Windows 7 Launch Party

I have saved the best until last. So if you have made it this far through the article your reward is to watch the most cringeworthy Microsoft video of all time. In fact, this may well be the most cringeworthy video of all time, period.

Windows 7 is a great operating system, it really is. Apple fanboys will disagree, obviously, but it looks great and works extremely well to boot. Which is all I really want from the OS powering my computer, thank you very much. However, as much as I like Windows 7 I never once considered throwing a party to celebrate its launch. Who would do such a thing?

Oh, these guys would. Or at least they would if they weren’t actors thrown together with a cheesy script and told to deliver their lines as naturally as possible. Oh, and let’s show a cross-section of society getting together to show how Windows 7 will appeal to all, no matter what their gender, age, or race. My skin is crawling.


Tell me, did these make you cringe as much as they made me cringe? And do you hate or pity Microsoft as a result? Thankfully some of the ads coming out of Microsoft these days are actually quite good, but there is always a feeling they could lapse back into producing nonsense like any of the above at some point in the future.


Have I missed any crackers? If you have seen a Microsoft video that has made you wonder what on earth the company was thinking when they made it then please link to it in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Gareth Rushgrove

Related topics: Microsoft, Online Video.

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  1. wei2912
    June 4, 2012 at 4:25 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VUawhjxLS2I#! - The video of true epicness (the movie of Office 2010). If you watch the whole thing you would be puzzled.

  2. Dave
    March 22, 2012 at 4:59 am

    I just threw up in my mouth...

    • Dave Parrack
      March 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      That bad, eh? Glad to be of service ;)

  3. Chris Hoffman
    March 22, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Oh man, I was totally going to write this post. Guess I was too slow!

    Between this and the other post, you got all the greatest hits I was going to use. Good job!

    • Dave Parrack
      March 22, 2012 at 3:24 am

      Sorry, Chris! I suspect you and I both watch too many strange videos ;)

  4. BenN
    March 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    The Seindfeld commercial was OK, I just remember them paying millions for the ad and then pulling it after a couple of days. You could still view it online- if you had Silverlight installed. Very Microsoft thing to do.

    I actually thought the Office 2010 video was kind of funny.
    Win7 hosting party- wtf?

    • Dave Parrack
      March 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Some people do like the Office 2010 ad. That was around the time Microsoft actually started thinking about advertising in a more Apple-esque way. I think it's cheesy though.

      For the Windows 7 launch parties I guess they wanted to emulate what Apple manages with its launches. They failed. And this video did not help.

  5. Justin Winokur
    March 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Did anyone notice that the girls computer is a mac?

    • Dave Parrack
      March 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      You're the second to have noticed that! That seems like a strange decision from Microsoft :S

  6. George
    March 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    And how cool is it that they used a MacBook Pro for the first prop laptop in the Songsmith video!

    • Dave Parrack
      March 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Did they? I hadn't noticed.

    • Justin Winokur
      March 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      I was just thinking that. I did enjoy the Gates and Seinfeld thing but I do not see why they spent all the money they did to make it

      • Dave Parrack
        March 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        That was Seinfeld's fee, wasn't it? I guess they can't blame him it turned out the way it did...

  7. Anthony Burke
    March 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Especially the last one, I remember assuming it was a spoof, then realised it wasn't.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Totally. That's the illusion I was under at first. Who on earth thought such a lame scripted affair was going to come over well?!

  8. Tim Brookes
    March 21, 2012 at 3:14 am

    You know which Microsoft video made me cringe recently? Just the "This is Windows 8 bitchez" video they have over at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/consumer-preview

    "See Windows 8 in action" it says.
    "Too bad Microsoft designed a touchscreen OS for the desktop" I thought.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Perhaps this is more fitting to the actual experience - http://youtu.be/v4boTbv9_nU

      • Tim Brookes
        March 22, 2012 at 12:04 am

        Haha yes I've seen that, it's pretty funny. Any money my dad would react in the same way!

        • Dave Parrack
          March 22, 2012 at 3:25 am

          Oh, mine too. In fact, I fully expect a distress call for help from him when he buys his next laptop with Windows 8 on it!