Microsoft books 'Pawn Stars' to power reality-distortion field

Much like reality TV, Microsoft's anti-Chromebook ads overlook several facts about Google -- and Microsoft itself

You know you're in a bad way when you're forced to employ reality TV stars to trash your competition. But that's exactly what Microsoft has done with its latest Scroogled ads, starring the dudes from "Pawn Stars."

Full confession: I am not a reality TV fan in any way, shape, or form. But one day last summer I found myself in a hotel room with an afternoon to kill and discovered "Pawn Stars." I was hooked. I can't explain why, exactly, but I love those guys. (I'm doing everything in my power to avoid watching "Duck Dynasty," lest it have the same effect.)

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It's kind of fun to see Rick, Corey, Chumlee, and the Old Man hit the big time -- assuming that appearing in a Microsoft ad is in fact the big time. But the ad itself has a few major problems.

Pawn to run

It starts with an attractive young woman who brings a Chromebook into the shop, wanting to swap it for "a ticket to Hollywood."

Right away we have a problem: "Pawn Stars" is based in Vegas, right? Hollywood is five hours down Interstate 15 -- turn left at Area 51 and keep going till you see homeless people and breast implants (and possibly homeless people with breast implants). That "ticket" is about $40 worth of gas. But never mind.

Rick Harrison asks, "What makes you think it's worth that much?" (Oh snap!) She replies, "It's a laptop."

He responds:

This is the Google Chromebook, a relatively new kind of device. Because Chromebook applications are Web based, when you're not connected, it's pretty much a brick. That's a major drawback. A traditional PC utilizes built in applications like Office and iTunes that work even when you're offline.

Microsoft is giving a shout-out to iTunes? Seriously? This tells you as much as anything that Microsoft is more worried about Google than Apple. Harrison goes on.

You see this thingie? [Pointing to the Google logo in the corner of the notebook.] That means it's not a real laptop. It doesn't have Windows or Office.

Still, Microsoft wants to make it clear it hasn't forgotten about the whole "I'm a Mac, you're a PC" war that it lost rather badly five years ago. Own a MacBook Air? Sorry Charlie, that's not a real laptop.

Without Wi-Fi it doesn't do much at all.

Well, no, actually, it's not entirely a brick. Google added offline capability to some Chromebook apps more than a year ago. And if you're willing to pony up $1,300, you can get a Chromebook Pixel laptop with a 3G or 4G connection. But let's get back to Harrison, shall we?

And when you are online, Google tracks what you do so they can sell ads.

The actress looks suitably appalled. Harrison continues:

That's how you get Scroogled.... Google is always trying to find ways to make more money off your personal information. This Chromebook hardware makes it even easier for them.

There's one problem with this concept, and it's an obvious one. Bing tracks users just as much as Google does and for the same reasons. Microsoft just isn't anywhere near as good at it as Google.

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