Microsoft takes virtual battle back to the 1970s with sardonic ad campaign

Anti-VMware ads resurrected - complete with facial hair

Vests? Check. Big hair and aviator sunglasses? Check. A not-particularly subtle suggestion that a major rival is behind the times? Check and mate.

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Microsoft's resurrection of advertising character "Tad" - a mustachioed 1970's lounge lizard stereotype who is a salesman for "VMlimited" - is an attempt to paint VMware as expensive and outdated. The new series of "Tad Talks" (get it?) depict the character giving fatuous answers to enterprise IT questions posed by brow-furrowing tech professionals.

"Use more plus pay more equals good Karma!" Tad tells us, in a jab at VMware's per-VM pricing scheme. "Some say it penalizes you for using more VMs, but to me, it's just good Karmic practice."

Microsoft even included Tad (who debuted this summer in a similar video) in a spoof of a recent ZDNet debate on the relative merits of Hyper-V and VMware. Whatever else the campaign is, it's tough to argue they don't have the character's voice down.

While the spots are quite well-done - little touches like Tad drinking from a mug decorated with its own mustache and the "now available on VHS!" banner on the campaign's web page were particularly good - they don't seem to cover any particularly new territory as far as criticism of VMware is concerned. Videos bashing the company's pricing structure and ostensible lack of interoperability might be clever, but they're well-traveled ground in terms of strikes against VMware.

Regardless of how valid the satire is, and many of the key points can at least be argued, Tad doesn't look like he's doing a lot of damage at this point. Total views for the new spots range from about 100 to 300 as of this writing - hardly a viral sensation.

Staff Writer Jon Gold is now considering different facial hair options. Email him at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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