The "C" Branch

Jaded commentary on random shit, with an extra helping of cynicism, satire and general contempt for society & Western culture, religion, politics, celebrities, technology, business & more.

Aug 03

The Whole “Laptop Hunters” Premise is Just Stupid


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="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&#038;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.

Jul 16

The Best Alternative To 1&1


In the past, I’ve written about my 1&1 Internet woes, from their horrible customer support to their lousy quality services to the incredible delays that happen whenever you try to make changes to your domains. In a nutshell, 1&1 is perhaps one of the worst domain registrars ever.

I’m very excited, however, to have found an outstanding (and better value) alternative to 1&1. It’s called Netfirms and it’s very impressive! Domains are regularly priced at $6.95 (much cheaper than 1&1, especially since they’ve been raising their prices) but I even got $1 off on my first domain. Plus, the registration and updates happen almost instantly, unlike 1&1 which makes you wait sometimes even days for the updates to finally happen.

You can read more at my review of them on Top Product Reports here or just hop over and get started at Netfirms.

Jul 09

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Microsoft


Research is now showing that a security vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser that the company has been scrambling over in the past few days was actually discovered nearly 2 years ago.

Microsoft, of course, has just how decided to do something about it, and is claiming that two of their researchers just discovered it. The vulnerability has been being exploited substantially for the past month.

Read more at ComputerWorld here: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135259/Microsoft_may_have_known_about_critical_IE_bug_for_months.

Jul 08

Google to Produce a Full Chrome OS


Now this has got me quite excited. It seems that after the great success Google has had with its Chrome browser, the internet giant will run even further ahead with its already remarkable success and turn Chrome into an entire operating system.

Reading on the Official Google Blog, the operating system will be designed specifically for the “web era,” with features and operation intended to ease and simplify using internet resources directly within the OS. It will run on both x86 as well as the ARM architecture, meaning that you would be able to install it right on your desktop or laptop PC just like a copy of Windows or Linux.
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May 05

If Everything Was Made By Microsoft


Microsoft Wedding Album

Apparently Cracked.com recently had a contest to see who could make the best photo of how things would look if Microsoft had in fact taken over the world (like it appeared they might back in the 90s). In fact, I can remember reading a newspaper article about a kitchen controlled entirely by Microsoft-driven computers. For example, the refrigerator had a built-in computer terminal with a touch screen for accessing recipe databases and even maintaining inventory of its contents.

Fortunately, given their last several product releases, it doesn’t appear that there’s any chance of Microsoft taking over much of anything…which makes ridiculing them all the more funny!

Check this out: If Everything Was Made By Microsoft

Apr 21

Introducing StupidError.com


Remember way back when there was a “Funny Errors and Glitches” section on The “C” Branch, or even the old CDeMar22? Well, I came across some archives the other day and decided that would be a great idea to bring back and turn into a new site.

Head on over to www.StupidError.com to check out our totally awesome, all-new Errors and Glitches website.

And don’t forget to submit your funniest error screens!