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Will Staples' New Win 8 Ad Campaign Offend Customers?

The latest ad campaign by Staples indicates that Windows 8 is just too difficult for the typical consumer to understand.

Now that Windows 8 has been in the hands of consumers for the past several weeks, talk of the new Modern UI casting a dark shadow over the Windows platform has somewhat subsided. Many have discovered that the new Windows installment just isn't the monster many critics tried to describe. If anything, Microsoft seemingly shipped Windows 7 SE with an embedded launcher, the latter of which is more suited for the tablet market.

Still, the new Modern UI isn't all that difficult to figure out: it's very smartphone-ish, allowing users to access their email, check in with Facebook friends, and install free and premium apps through the built-in store. It's super convenient, and these live tiles -- replacing your standard shortcut -- even present quick information on the screen so that users know when mail has arrived, what apps need to be updated, and so on.

What really wasn't conveyed in Microsoft's push to sell Windows 8 was that the desktop is still the underlying foundation. Users aren't "forced" to deal with the touchy-feely Modern UI, yet they are forced into dealing without the Start menu. But as we've seen since the release of Windows 95, the desktop will likely pushed to the side in favor of the Modern UI just as DOS has with each new release of the Windows platform. DOS is still there (Command Prompt), and Microsoft will undoubtedly do the same with the desktop, tucking it away and out of sight.

That said, Staples' latest Windows 8 campaign is assuming that customers will be overwhelmed by the new blocky interface. For consumers who are less tech-savvy – such as grandma looking for a new PC – the retailer may be right on the money. Customers new to the Windows platform may not even notice that there's a big change to the OS, but for those who are still using Windows XP on a machine built back in the Stone Ages, Windows 8 may be a little overwhelming.

What's disturbing here, and Business Insider agrees, is that one big brand, Staples, is deeming another brand it's currently selling, Windows 8, too complicated for customers to understand on their own. Even more, the commercials represent the computer buyer as a balding, nerdy dad who is rejected by his teen son after asking for help with his new Windows 8 laptop. A sulking dad thus returns to Staples to get his free Windows 8 Training. Thing is, this dad has probably used Windows since v3.11 released in the early 90s, and may already know what's going on.

But, in Staples' defense, it's not the only retailer offering consumer "training," indicating that the general consensus is that the average consumer may need a little help with this new interface. Even the commercial itself doesn't specifically say Windows 8 is too complicated, but Business Insider reports that the campaign was created by the McCann ad agency, so there may be more to the "Microsoft Will Hate Staples' New Ads" than what's presented in the commercial.

Finally, here's the description provided by Staples, explaining the 16-second spot: "Teenagers get technology, but they're still working on people skills. The trained experts at Staples will take you step-by-step through your new Windows 8 tablet or laptop with Free Training. Let Staples help you make the most of Windows 8."

Should consumers be offended by this new campaign?

  • Yuka
    Why would they be offended? Win8 IS different in terms of experience and you don't have to be a guru to know that.

    Also, it's a good solution for when (like the video states) no one wants to teach you about it and don't feel like doing some self-learning.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • JasonAkkerman
    Offended? I laughed.
    Reply
  • killerclick
    Metro is not complicated, it's stupid. And Windows 8 is not selling very well, so we may see a rollback of some of the more insane design choices.
    Reply
  • steve360
    If Microsoft made the Modern UI optional, Windows 8 on a desktop wouldn't be such a pain in the ass.
    Reply
  • wemakeourfuture
    killerclickMetro is not complicated, it's stupid. And Windows 8 is not selling very well, so we may see a rollback of some of the more insane design choices.
    Well it makes sense for smartphones and tablets and even those hybrid touch laptop/tablet devices.
    Reply
  • spookie
    Come on! how could that offend anybody?? I'm a teen and I like the ad, and so does my parents. I think it's a good ad, but might not be MSFT's favourite ad..
    Reply
  • killerclick
    wemakeourfutureWell it makes sense for smartphones and tablets and even those hybrid touch laptop/tablet devices.
    Exactly, and since those are not selling, there won't be a point of Microsoft forcing Metro on users, so I expect to see a service pack that restores the Start Menu and allows Metro apps to run windowed in desktop mode. It will be the cheapest way for Microsoft to deal with the problem.
    Reply
  • tpi2007
    Kevin, I know a lot of the industry depends on Microsoft's ecosystem doing well, that includes developers, retailers and journalists to some extent, but your assessment of what Windows 8 is and what people make it out to be is biased, and your following quotes provide good indication of that:

    Now that Windows 8 has been in the hands of consumers for the past several weeks, talk of the new Modern UI casting a dark shadow over the Windows platform has somewhat subsided. Many have discovered that the new Windows installment just isn't the monster many critics tried to describe.

    People who have criticized Windows 8 with more than just the single line sentence have actually given good reasons as to why subverting the user paradigm on the desktop, by making the desktop a Modern (once called Metro) app, and not the other way around is conceptually wrong and that whole misconception then translates into a user experience which is lacking in many respects. And this leads me to the second quote:

    But as we've seen since the release of Windows 95, the desktop will likely pushed to the side in favor of the Modern UI just as DOS has with each new release of the Windows platform. DOS is still there (Command Prompt), and Microsoft will undoubtedly do the same with the desktop, tucking it away and out of sight.

    This somehow implies (although I'm not sure that is your objective intention) that one day desktop PCs will become nothing more than a glorified, supersized smartphone or tablet, where you can't have more than two programs on your screen at once. The underlying conceptualization that the Modern UI will take over the much superior desktop on proper work computers is not only outlandish but also ridiculous. It's actually akin to saying that DOS is better than Windows. If you don't like or need to multitask, perhaps (and even then we'd be having an argument about it).
    Reply
  • cookoy
    Nope, nothing offending to me. Somebody's making a big fuzz out of nothing. Seems like a typical commercial where a company is trying to offer some added-value to distinguish itself from the other typical stores.
    Reply
  • greghome
    They just gotta go advertise it as an iPad with keyboards and Windows.....then your "average" consumers will get the message
    Reply