Loads of Cool Stuff! Look, It’s Cool…Isn’t It?
The problem Microsoft has with its perception is that no one thinks it is cool, even when it is releasing awesome products like Xbox 360, Kinect, Windows Phone and making the effort to revise the old MSN service into something usable like Windows Live.
Let’s create a scale of awesomeness. We’ll start off with the low end, slightly rubbish stuff and crank it up to 11 with Awesome:
- So Uncool It Should Be Ironically Cool Yet Isn't
- Utter Garbage
- Getting There
I’ve done it this way because the term “cool" has a self-defining, inherent property whereby it isn’t possible to get too worked up and excited; that simply wouldn’t be “cool."
Now what happens here when you throw Apple products at the scale? Most of it hits the Impressive, Excellent and Cool categories, such as Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (I’m not sold on the Lion), the MacBook Air and the iPad. Other items such as the iPhone have slipped down the list and hover between Impressive and Cool while hardware from the past that might once have been Impressive (such as the G3 clamshell notebooks) slips down to OK and Good, despite the quality design. A Bondi Blue iMac, while ancient, is a timeless classic that never goes below ten.
With Microsoft, however, we get a quite different story. Windows Vista, for instance, struggles with So Uncool It Should Be Ironically Cool Yet Isn't and maybe got to Utter Garbage on its best day, while the Xbox 360 is clearly Awesome. Microsoft Office is Good (workmanlike might be a better approximation) while Windows Phone is Excellent, verging on Cool (there is a chance that the involvement of Nokia might help secure a Cool rating). Windows 7 is definitely Excellent, while what we know so far of Windows 8 is totally Awesome.
The story here is obvious. Microsoft just cannot do cool. It can do rubbish stuff and it can do good stuff, but when it really needs to go and release something cool, somehow the guys at Redmond knock the ball out of the park and hit the big AWESOME sign on the city limits. They make something and it's rated by how well it works, and a lot of the time it hasn't been very good. But even when it is very good, or even excellent or awesome, no one really thinks of it as being cool, and the marketing generally doesn't push us in that direction. The "Really?" campaign for Windows Phone did a great job of showing off how efficient and practical it is and was even hilarious, but it still didn't make Windows Phone cool.