How can Microsoft stop us hating them?

Microsoft: Change the world or go home

So what do you think of Microsoft, eh? No, really. I want to know.

I have to admit I’m not exactly a fan. I’ll explain why momentarily. But Microsoft is changing, or at least wants to change, and I’m finding it hard to shed old impressions.

The Blue Monster cartoon is part of this changing Microsoft. Its creator, Hugh MacLeod, intended it as a conversation-starter — what he calls a social object. Steve Clayton from Microsoft UK says they use it to help Microsoft start talking about its own process of re-birth.

I’m cynical when software companies claim grand goals like “changing the world”. That over-the-top rhetoric was central to the first dot-com bubble. Usually, the bigger the rhetoric the crappier the product. Still, I’m willing to listen.

Another sign of a changing Microsoft is my friend Nick Hodge, who sold me my first Mac back in 1985. Nick now works for the Blue Monster as an “enthusiast evangelist”, and represents how Microsoft is embracing blogging and a new culture of openness — and actually having conversations with people instead of talking at them.

But can Microsoft really change and, more importantly, convince us to believe them?

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If Microsoft made iPods

Microsoft iPod parody videoCan you imagine Microsoft making something as sexy as Apple’s iPod?

I didn’t think so.

And neither does the creator of this parody video showing what Apple’s sleek, minimalist iPod packaging might look like if it were redesigned by Microsoft. And the version I’ve shown in the thumbnail image (right) is just the start — watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

Humour aside, this is a beautiful illustration of how two very different companies approach the task of packaging — one with class, the other with all the grace and style of a drunken hippopotamus.

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