Steve Ballmer has kind of a history with ads. There was that famous Windows 1.0 ad, in which he donned a used car salesman outfit and… well, you know the rest. Ballmer went for an encore when Windows XP came out, pimping that OS with even greater fervor.
Now, with Windows Phone 8, Steve Ballmer is showing us his kindler, gentler side. The latest ad for the new mobile OS has Microsoft’s CEO walking us through his (allegedly) personal Windows Phone 8 home screen:
I miss the checkered suit and overenthusiastic yelling, but I like this new concept. It’s not everyday you see a CEO publicly vouching for his company’s product in a way that’s both personal and relatable. (Then again, maybe the golf part is little too "1%" for some folks.)
Ballmer isn’t going at it alone, of course. Showcasing Windows Phone 8’s customizable tiled home screen lies at the heart of Microsoft’s advertising push. The whole idea seems to be highlighting individuality and making users feel like their prefab iOS and Android home screens aren’t good enough. The longer, more professional ad on the new Windows Phone website drives that point home, emphasizing people as individuals who deserve and benefit from a tailored device.
It does feel a little superficial, though. Moving and resizing tiles may be nice, but it doesn’t fundamentally alter the behavior of a phone. Configurable tile colors are also a pretty low-tech substitute for photo wallpapers, which don’t seem to be on the menu with Windows Phone 8. Of course, Microsoft doesn’t have a whole lot else to go on here. Windows Phone 8 has a much smaller app library than its competitors, and it’s probably too early to play up the integration with Windows 8.