The "C" Branch

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The Whole “Laptop Hunters” Premise is Just Stupid

Posted by Chris DeMarco on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 2:55 am

This “Laptop Hunters” ordeal has been going on way too long for me to have not shared my two cents yet, so here goes…

Chances are you’ve seen one of the “Laptop Hunters” commercials Microsoft has been pushing on TV and the internet, but in case you haven’t, I’ll do a quick overview of the original premise. A girl – Lauren (later a second Lauren, Sheila, a Mom who’s returning to law school, and others join the fray) – goes computer shopping with a budget of $1000 or less, looking for a 17″ laptop with speed and an adjustable keyboard (still not sure exactly what that is) – and Microsoft tags along. They promise to buy her whichever computer she finds meeting that criteria, to prove that the only practical computer for an average American on a budget is, of course, a PC with Microsoft Windows.

<a href=";playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion">Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>

A couple things pop out in the original video that leave me shaking my head, so I’ll first discuss those, and then we’ll take a look at some real facts about pricing and other important factors when buying computers.

  1. Lauren is supposedly some random person off the street who’s buying a computer, yet she really seems like an actress, possibly even a paid actress, to me. Mind, I guess they could have tried filming the commercial with 250 different people before they finally found someone as great on camera as she was, but the whole thing just seemed a bit too nicely done to be an on-the-fly thing with someone off the street (especially considering that the producer has consistently produced garbage software after having years to polish and perfect it).
  2. Near the very beginning of the video, Lauren spends about 6 seconds in the Apple store (she calls it the “Mac store”) to decide she’s “not cool enough for a Mac.” I find it intriguing that Microsoft is going to pull that “prestige” stereotype nonsense about Apple users. I wonder how Microsoft would like it if I made a commercial portraying Windows users as idiots who don’t know enough about computers to realize what constitutes a decent, stable operating system. Oh wait, at least mine would be about 100 times closer to truth then their lousy stereotype (sorry Windows users).
  3. Microsoft emphasizes the factor of price heavily in their equation, but only takes into account the initial cost of the computer. But since that seems oddly presumptuous to me, let’s be realistic and say that Lauren were to keep her new laptop for 5 years (a fair assumption considering she was on a budget in the first place). First off, it will no doubt have a ton of bloatware preloaded onto it, which stores like Office Depot and BestBuy offer a removal service for around $40-60. If she leaves it on, it will only slow it down and cause problems down the road, thus making the need for future repairs even more likely.

    Of course, her Microsoft Windows laptop is going to require an Antivirus/security subscription among other things down the road, beyond the initial cost of the machine. And, considering that it’s running Windows, it will probably need to be formatted and reinstalled at least once during that five years, almost definitely more if she doesn’t properly handle the previous security software investment.

    So let’s say Lauren gets an Antivirus (like she would need to, even according to Microsoft) for we’ll say $30/year, and handles installing it herself. That adds $150 to the cost of the computer over the next 5 years. A Mac, of course, would not require this OR come with bloatware, and would still remain at its initial cost at this point.

    Further, based on my experience working on and repairing Microsoft Windows computers, chances are she’s going to need to have some work done on it (either a good cleanup and virus removal or a full-blown erase and reinstall) which could cost her much more than $100, but we’ll stay conservative and go with only that amount.

    Now the cost of her $699 computer has increased by $50 for removing the bloatware, $150 for her security subscription and another $100 for the repairs it will no doubt require, bringing it to a much more realistic $999 and hovering over her $1000 budget after sales tax (and hovering substantially higher in certain states).

  4. Lastly regarding this video, at the very end Lauren claims, “I’m a PC, and I got just what I wanted.” And I guess if what she wanted was a cheaply-made machine with system software highly prone to security exploits and virus infection, she most certainly did get what she wanted. But, chances are of course, that she probably didn’t.

Following the release of these commercials by Microsoft, Apple got upset and asked a Microsoft executive to stop airing them, which was stupid given that Apple has not only been airing “Mac vs. PC” commercials for quite some time but also released some that have been considered rebuttals to “Laptop Hunters.”

For example, this one:

So, to conclude, I will share my general, objective thoughts on why this whole “Laptop Hunters” premise is plain stupid and what factors are realistic in choosing a good computer.

  1. Price Tag – The ongoing Mac vs. PC debate is not about prestige, and that was a low blow by Microsoft. It’s no question that Apple’s products cost much more, yes. But that comes with the fact that they are simply designed with much better quality every step of the way – not to function as some sort of prestige or “coolness” icon. From my work on the insides of both PC and Apple laptops, it’s obvious to me that with their solid construction and smart features like the rubber-mounted hard drive rack, the construction of Apple laptops is in general FAR superior than virtually all of the low-cost PC laptop manufacturers.
  2. Software Production Fail – Setting aside the Mac vs. PC debate for a moment, understanding the disadvantages in construction among cheap PC manufacturers, let’s talk software. Including Linux and other much more solid and reliable operating systems alternative to Microsoft Windows, it’s very apparent that Microsoft is at the very bottom of the totem pole. If I had the time and resources, I could probably gather a few of my buddies and write an OS that gets less viruses – from a basement somewhere. Microsoft has to be aware of this and knows darn well that these laptops running their software that these people are buying are vulnerable, insecure, and require third-party software to protect them since Microsoft can’t handle that itself (which tacks on to the computer’s price).
  3. Attacking Each Other Fails – As I implied earlier, it was dumb for Apple to try and have Microsoft remove the commercials given all the sliming they themselves have doing to Microsoft. However, it was dumber for Microsoft to make the misleading ADs, especially when they’re failing miserably at producing a decent operating system and are currently still subjecting people to using arguably their worst OS ever.
  4. Facts Work Better – Though my natural inclination towards Apple products was no doubt detectable, it was all based on facts that I clearly stated throughout this article. Rather than trying to “slime” each other and produce misleading advertisements, the computer companies should simply declare facts and let people make their decisions based on them (admittedly, Apple has done this well in many of their commercials, though perhaps not as tactfully as possible).

So to summarize the facts:

  • Apple computers cost substantially more than their PC counterparts, but for several good reasons (as follow).
  • The construction and assembly of Apple computers is by far superior to that of PC laptops within the price ranges shown on Microsoft’s commercials
  • A laptop running Windows will require additional investments out of the box, including Antivirus software ($150 across 5 years), bloatware removal ($50 on average), and repairs/virus removal down the road ($100 is extremely conservative).
  • Apple computers and even PC hardware running Linux or other OS’es based on Unix are much more stable and do not require the additional security solutions and investments mentioned above that Microsoft-using computers do.

Well, there you have it. Objective facts and information on the differences between Macs and PCs, based on the material in Microsoft’s recent “Laptop Hunters” commercials. Now you can make your own decision.

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Tagged in:   • laptop hunter • laptop hunter ad • laptop hunters • laptop hunters ad • laptop hunters commercial • laptop hunters is stupid • microsoft • microsoft laptop hunter • windows

4 Responses to “The Whole “Laptop Hunters” Premise is Just Stupid”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Sorry but no. There is no denying Macs and other Apple products are extremely overpriced. You say they cost much more but deservedly so, but I just can’t agree with that. Also, there is no need for a subscription virus service, you just put that on there to raise the price of what a PC needs. Sure, there are dumb PC users who will need repair or maintenance work done because of something they cause like a virus, but anyone can keep their PC virus free if they know what they are doing. I will give you that Windows is prone to dying, but that doesn’t necessarily cost any money to fix. Lastly, anyone could write their own OS that doesn’t get viruses, the whole reason why Windows is the only OS to get viruses is because it is the only OS people write viruses for.

  2. Says:

    The Whole “Laptop Hunters” Premise is Just Stupid | The…

    Chances are you’ve seen one of the “Laptop Hunters” commercials Microsoft has been pushing on TV and the internet. Here’s why the entire premise is just plain stupid….

  3. Says:

    The Whole “Laptop Hunters” Premise is Just Stupid | The “C” Branch…

    Chances are you’ve seen one of the “Laptop Hunters” commercials Microsoft has been pushing on TV and the internet.  Here’s why the entire premise is just plain stupid….

  4. Chris DeMarco Says:


    I’m not sure how you think that not paying for an Antivirus subscription to get updated protection for the latest threats is a good idea, but even Microsoft has advised its users to purchase a professionally produced Antivirus solution and by default notifies users when they don’t have one. While there are free alternatives, in all my testing they have proven to not be effective.

    Further, please keep in mind that we are talking about laptops for the average person going to a store and buying a computer, not someone who is technically inclined enough to fix their own computer and repair their own virus or spyware infections.


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