February 20, 2008
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Microsoft Copy Writing

Something is very screwy in Microsoft ad land, or my ear for language has gone entirely. Here's a snippet from the "Meet The Fource" page, which casts Microsoft products as cute action heroes.

Windows Vista Sensei comes from a long family line of warriors, the ” Windows” family.

He is highly thought of as one of the most powerful warriors alive. Although he is still young, Windows Vista Sensei is said to possess different strengths and confidence not known to anyone.

"He is highly though of as one of the most powerful warriors alive." How many things are wrong with this sentence? And if he possesses strengths and confidence unknown to anyone, how does he come to have them?

Of "Office Master," we learn that

He is a legend in his own time. just the mention of his name will certainly follow with tales of heroism. His wisdom and skills of collaboration are highly sought after.

The first sentence begins with a cliché, splices with a period when a comma is required, and then hilarity ensues as we picture a mention that follows someone or something (like a terrier?) while bearing tales. And then we have a dangling participle.

It doesn't get better. MSDN Webcast Guy once "had a few gigs as a stunt man on movies in Hollywood." (emphasis mine) Webcast Guy is also makes a big deal of knowing COBOL ("Do you know COBOL?" he asks. "Didn't think so.") What's that about?

Cute idea, but crazy execution. Best of all, these are fictitious characters in an advertisement, but they're constantly described with weasel phrases. They aren't the best, they are considered to be or thought of as one of the best. And the whole affair is a field day for racial and gender slights; if I were a giant corporation with a huge technical staff on the US West Coast and a vast R&D effort in China, I would not go there with forty superheroes, much less the fource. (And, in a downtrending economy, do skilled developers want to be epitomized as cute and funny kids?)

Does anyone at Microsoft copy edit their own ads?