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

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Pawn of the dead

That is the fatal flaw in the Scroogled attack ad concept (well, that and the fact that -- a NSFW chat site -- is just one letter away from Yet Microsoft continues to go all in on it. It's even trying to turn Scoogled into a revenue center of sorts, selling T-shirts, hats, hoodies, and mugs with quasi-clever sayings on them like "Keep Calm While We Steal Your Data," complete with a Google logo.

If Bing offered real privacy protections like DuckDuckGo or Ixquick, which mask your IP address and don't retain search data, Microsoft would certainly be within its rights to claim some moral high ground over Google. But here's what Bing's privacy policy says about the matter:

When you conduct a search, Microsoft collects the following:

  • Search term and time and date of your search
  • IP address, browser configuration and approximate location
  • Any unique identifiers contained in the cookies We store search terms (and the cookie IDs associated with search terms) separately from any account information that directly identifies the user, such as name, e-mail address, or phone numbers. We have technological safeguards in place designed to prevent the unauthorized correlation of this data and we remove the entirety of the IP address after 6 months, cookies and other cross session identifiers, after 18 months.
Microsoft uses the information we collect to operate, improve and personalize the products and services we offer.... we may use search query data for the purpose of personalizing the ads we display to you as you use our services or those of our advertising partners.

Bing isn't a DuckDuckGo, it's LameDuckStop. And this campaign is just more of the classic Microsoft Fear Uncertainty and Doubt tactics, only a little less clumsy than usual.

Pawndering to youth

I'm no Google fanboy. I think the Chromebook has some flaws. But it's a great choice for some folks, particularly those who need a low-cost device that comes with none of the maintenance hassles and slow boot times of a Windows PC. That's why it's often a great choice for schools.

That's a big reason why Microsoft is attacking it so, shall we say, vigorously. It fears losing the next generation of youth to Google, the same way it lost the previous generations to Apple.

But you don't win people's loyalty by lying. You win it by building better products. Otherwise it's like trying to pawn off a zircon ring by claiming it's a diamond. Nobody is going to fall for that, no matter whom you hire to be your pitchman.

Is Microsoft's Scroogled campaign changing your (or anyone else's) mind about Google? Weigh in below or email me:

This article, "Microsoft books 'Pawn Stars' to power reality-distortion field," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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