Microsoft Hits Back at Pricey Macs

New ads emphasize affordability in tough economic times

Macs may be easy on the eyes, but they're certainly not easy on the wallet.

That's the message Microsoft is sending in its most recent offensive in the ongoing ad war with rival Apple.

And this time, it's all about the prices.

The first in the series of 60-second spots aired Thursday during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. It follows bubbly redhead "Lauren," a recent college grad on a mission to purchase a speedy 17-inch laptop for under a thousand dollars.

"We told her: you find it, you keep it," a voice-over announces.  

Laptop Hunters $1000 - Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion

A determined Lauren heads into an Apple store, but soon walks out after finding only one 13-inch computer that fits her budget.

"I would have to double my budget, which isn't feasible," she says.

"I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person."

Microsoft's aggressive new angle takes advantage of the economic recession to drive home the point that PCs offer big savings over Macs. The ads are the newest addition to the company's "I'm a PC" commercials, which launched last year.

The declining economy has been helpful for PC sales, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at a press conference. "Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment — same piece of hardware — paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be," he said.

Market research found that sales of Mac notebooks fell 16 percent in February, while PC sales rose by 22 percent. The average selling price of a Mac and PC notebooks were $1,512 and $560, respectively.

The commercials are part of Microsoft's $300 million campaign to boost the Windows brand and respond to Apple's highly popular ads, which have portrayed Macs as fresh and creative and PCs as dull and boring.

Lauren, by the way, happily settled on an HP Pavilion laptop for $699.

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