Is it just me or are the new, hilarious, television commercials for the new Apple MacBooks some kind of weird semiotic take on the caricatures of Bill Gates at Microsoft and Steve Jobs at Apple?
Windows machines are older, fatter and uglier than the younger, slimmer, prettier MacBook?
Or are the commercials a more direct shiv up the backs of Windows users who may not be as cool as their Mac brethren?
Or is this a more specific personal poke in the eye with a sharp barb from the Apple Boot Camp through the dawning Windows Vista?
The series of commercials are funny and they tell a succinct story — but the dark undertow beneath the raging rapids of laughter might tell us more about the real semiotic embedded in the subliminal Apple corps advertising.


  1. I probably won’t ever switch to a Mac because of their reputation for being more expensive, but I fully understand the advertisement.
    MS has gotten fatter and slower as it has aged. More and more resources are needed to run larger and larger programs. I remember buying PC Write from my university and it coming on a few disks and loading extremely quickly on a pre-Windows AT 286 machine. Now, it seems like I can start up my computer, go take a shower or fix a cup of coffee, and it might have loaded up to the point where I can get a program to fire up.
    The ad reminds me that I miss the days of flipping the switch on the 286 and getting a flashing cursor that would allow me to do something right away.
    It also reminds me of my old Windows ME machine that is running so slowly. This is the one I’m going to see if I can rejuvenate with Sun’s free Solaris operating system.

    Sun offers an alternative to Windows with the Solaris Enterprise System …

    Microsoft — as much as I love using their products — is getting to be like the middle-aged guy in the suit who probably needs a long vacation on a beach after working very hard without a break.

  2. Hi Chris!
    Macs are now no more expensive than Windows machines. I, too, thought Macs were unaffordable but you can get a killer machine for a reasonable price now.
    I’m an Old WordPerfect hound. I miss that ugly blue screen with white letters but I don’t want to return to it even if MSFT Word will allow it!
    Windows machines are painfully slow and painful to use.
    My MacBook Pro comes out of sleep mode in like 3 seconds. It takes a superfast windows machine at least seven times as long to do the same awakening. The more I use the Mac the more I see how Windows is trying so hard to imitate it with each new release.
    You simply must document and then write about your move to the Solaris OS for us here. I’m dying to know if it meets your expectation!

  3. When I get Solaris up and running, I’ll write about it. I’ve never done anything with Linux, so it will be a worthwhile learning experience.
    I got the idea to make the switch when I read a blurb in one of my bar association magazines about an attorney who reclaimed his old Windows machines that had become slow and worthless by switching operating systems.
    If he can do it, then I can do it!
    It’s time to jump to Linux.
    Everything cool runs Linux 😀
    From Wikipedia:

    Linux has historically been used mainly as a server operating system, but its low cost, flexibility, and Unix background make it suitable for a wide range of applications.
    Linux is the cornerstone of the “LAMP” server-software combination (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) which has achieved widespread popularity among Web developers, making it one of the most common platforms on the Web. One prominent example of this software combination in use is MediaWiki — the software primarily written for Wikipedia.
    Due to its low cost and its high configurability, Linux is often used in embedded systems such as television set-top boxes, mobile phones, and handheld devices. Linux has become a major competitor to the proprietary Symbian OS found in many mobile phones, and it is an alternative to the dominant Windows CE and Palm OS operating systems on handheld devices. The popular TiVo digital video recorder uses a customized version of Linux. Several network firewall and router standalone products, including several from Linksys, use Linux internally, using its advanced firewalling and routing capabilities.
    Linux is increasingly common as an operating system for supercomputers. In the November 2005 TOP500 list of supercomputers, the two fastest supercomputers in the world ran Linux. Of the 500 systems, 371 (74.2%) ran some version of Linux, including seven of the top ten.
    The Sony PlayStation 3 video game console, to be launched in 2006, will run Linux out of the box. Sony has previously released a PS2 Linux kit for their PlayStation 2 video game console. Game developers like Atari and id Software have been known to release titles to the Linux desktop.

  4. Hi Chris!
    Our Jonathan Foley is a big Linux fan. He’s written about it a lot in comments here. I’m sure he’d be happy to direct you to solutions if you get stuck.

  5. Thanks for the information, David. I’m sure I’ll have some questions once I get into the project.
    Maybe that’s the marketing angle behind giving away the free software — they charge for customer service …

  6. Hi Chris!
    My prediction is you will be miserable under Linux!
    You won’t find any software you need to enjoy your life or work on Linux you’ll have trouble finding video and sound drivers even though all the Linux lovers around you will swear up and down you’ll be just fine.
    Good Luck!

  7. I have a new Windows computer that I use all the time, so I’m not worried too much about losing out on sound, video, etc.
    The other computer is sitting fallow in the basement since all of the new software programs are too much for it to handle. Since Firefox is available for Linux, I figured I’d be able to use that machine to surf the internet and to learn a little about Linux.

  8. I get you, Dave. So on the Mac platform everything is saved at the right resolution and file format and fonts are automatically embedded in the files?

  9. I’m thinking the time and effort to update the computer to Linux might not be worth it. I saw a brand-new Windows XP system for sale for $99 (after rebates) at a big box place. I’d probably spend more than $99 worth of time fooling around with backing up the computer and installing the new software.
    David, I think your post might have influenced history.
    From News Net Nebraska:

    Effective July 2008, Bill Gates will leave his day-to-day chief software architect role in software giant Microsoft to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  10. Hi Chris!
    If you just want to play around with Linux, you’ll do fine. If, however, you plan to use that box to get some work done, my feeling is you’ll be incredibly frustrated. $99 dollars is hard to beat. I still think you should take a look at a MacBook, though.
    I am feeling even more prescient than usual today about the Bill Gates retirement news! MSFT will do just fine without Bill’s fingers in the everyday pie. I also admire his want to honor his other philanthropic talents as well.

  11. Heh. I’m beginning to think there is no return. I’m 99% full-time on MacBook Pro now. I just need to transfer over some bank stuff and set up the rest of my IMAP accounts and then get Dreamweaver correctly associated and my FTP sites sorted and I’ll be done with all that later today. Being able to print wirelessly is such a huge advantage for our home network. Once you try that you’ll never to back to tethered again!
    That said, I’ll always be a Windows Boy by need and necessity and that’s fine. My ThinkPad is on and a foot away from me.

  12. I think it’s an ageist commercial is what I think. The implication being that older is unhip, out of it, behind the times, incompetent. Younger is better. And it works I’m sure because everyone in this age-obsessed, youth-worshiping society gets it at a visceral level. Old is bad Young is good. It’s interesting that I never paid much attention to how absolutely ageist our society is until I found myself on the other side of 35, which for a woman is suddenly ancient. I was dismayed to learn that I could no longer expect to be as choosy about the type of man I might go for, that I could no longer wear certain articles of clothing because advanced age had rendered certain parts of my anatomy too terrible to behold, and that enjoyable pastimes of my youth were now too silly for me to take part in. More and more I am suddenly expected to cease being an individual and become an age stereotype. And that is exactly what the Mac v. PC commercial depicts. Age stereotypes. They could have relayed the same idea, that Windows is behind the times without resorting to such stereotypes, IMHO.

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