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Apple Has Some Fun At Microsoft’s Expense

Dow Jones News Service

Maybe people trying to sell Windows shouldn’t throw stones.

Apple Computer Inc., playing the ant at Microsoft Corp.’s picnic, staged a daylong campaign Thursday to heckle its big rival amid the deafening launch of Microsoft’s Windows 95 operating system.

As Microsoft fanned out across the world to blanket civilization with evidence of its product’s supremacy and ubiquity, Apple mocked Microsoft through newspaper advertisements, a moving billboard on Microsoft’s home turf and “backlit dioramas” at the Seattle airport.

All of the ads and installations say “C:ONGRTLNS.W95,” a sarcastic allusion to the technical codes and scrunched file names that critics of Windows have long held up as evidence of its user-unfriendliness.

Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., has through its history portrayed its computers as uniquely easy-to-use, responsive and tuned to the natural behavior of personal-computer users.

David Lubars, president and executive creative director of BBDO West, which designed the campaign, said the company “has always welcomed competition whimsically.” He noted that the company greeted International Business Machines Corp.’s entry into the PC market in similarly back-handed fashion, with ads reading “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.”

Apple said its campaign is meant to accentuate its view that its Macintosh line has for years been doing all the things Windows 95 is touted to do, and more.

Lubars also said it fits into a broader component of Apple’s ad strategy aimed at conveying not only the quality of its products but the danger that “you can lose if you go the other way.”

Apple said its activities Thursday - except for the ads in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and San Jose Mercury News - were concentrated around Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., home.

A billboard truck was parked near a gate of Microsoft’s suburban headquarters campus. Transit buses traveling through that area were outfitted with cards displaying Apple’s jeer. And four three-dimensional “backlit color dioramas” with the congratulations message were placed at sites throughout the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

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