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Comedy Is an Uninvited Guest at Microsoft's 'House Party'

Microsoft has produced its share of quirky marketing messages, but a YouTube clip produced to promote a series of Windows 7 launch parties is a special sort of odd. Oh, so very special.

The idea, as veteran Microsoft reporter Todd Bishop reported earlier this month, is that Windows 7 fans can show off the Windows Vista replacement's features to friends, in return for which the folks in Redmond will give each host some help organizing the gathering and a free copy of Windows 7. Microsoft signed up an Irvington, N.Y., firm called House Party, which has organized similar marketing campaigns for the likes of Hershey and Gerber, to run the show.

And at some point, somebody at either House Party or Microsoft decided that a YouTube clip could help explain the concept to party organizers.

They apparently didn't factor in how the video might look to those who have yet to hop on the Win 7 bandwagon.

As you can see below, our four implausibly perky, demographically balanced hosts -- standing in a spotless kitchen decorated with red, blue and orange balloons -- talk about how "great it is to host a launch party!" that's really just another social gathering ("in a lot of ways, you're just throwing a party with Windows 7 as an honored guest!"). They suggest watching some of the other 100 or so YouTube clips for ideas about showing off Windows 7, while one wisely reminds hosts to make sure that the new operating system's set up a couple of days early: "play with Windows 7 before the party," he emphasizes. In addition, they recommend ... oh, good grief, I can't keep describing this with a straight face. Just watch yourself:

By two minutes into the video, I could only hold my head in my hands, cringing and saying, "No, no, no, this can't possibly be real!" before giggling helplessly at how high these six minutes and 14 seconds of video ranked on the Unintentional Comedy Scale.

Other viewers had similar reactions -- for instance, analyst Michael Gartenberg Twittered "I haven't laughed this hard in a long time ... OH MY GOD." tech writer Ian Douglas's take led with this analysis: "I'm beginning to think that no one involved with Microsoft's advertising has ever left the house or spoken to a real person."

As I was struggling to detach my palm from my face after watching this last night, I found the best response yet to the video. Mac software developer Cabel Sasser took the clip and bleeped out selected words to suggest a much more salacious gathering was in the works:

That's probably not the result Microsoft was looking for. But, hey, at least it's got people talking about Windows 7!

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 24, 2009; 11:27 AM ET
Categories:  The business we have chosen , Windows  
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Are there any Sham Wows for hostess gifts? I think someone in Redmond bumped their head......

Posted by: tbva | September 24, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Just when you think Microsoft might finally be getting it, they come out with this sh!t. Unless this is some diabolical-beyond-belief ploy to get people talking about Windows 7.

Posted by: tundey | September 24, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

As James Lileks said "If Microsoft had been put in charge of marketing sex, the human race would have ended long ago, because no one would be caught dead doing something that uncool."

Posted by: wiredog | September 24, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

If MS is expecting this YouTube clip to go viral, they are sadly, sadly mistaken. It's apparently an invite to the most boring party on planet earth. Or to host the most boring party on planet earth. With unspecified computer related activities. That you might have to call Microsoft support to be able to complete. Yep, you'll be the life of the party right there when you call MS support or visit the MS website while your guests stand around and wait....

I have to say I feel sorry for people who work for MS, because they'll be leaned on by corporate to hold MS Windows 7 Launch Parties. And they'll be leaned on to attend. I strongly suspect they will be the only people who will.

Posted by: NW_Washington | September 24, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know Chris Cillizza had a younger brother...

Posted by: jslaff | September 24, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The first video was painful to watch, so bad in-fact I couldn't finish it! I've seen late night infomercials that were more convincing and they promise to double my order for just $19.99 + S&H if I call now. The second video, snaps to Mac (yet again) turns a 'board meeting' of a party into something worth wasting 2 minutes of my life. Microsoft is just drowning in a sea of incompetence from its engineering to its marketing departments. It's almost like they are trying to loose customers. They should just stick to that cute little girl with the cute slideshow of kittens and bunnies set to Final Countdown.

Posted by: tigamu | September 24, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow, without this video, I wouldn't know how to have a party! Thanks, Microsoft!

Posted by: terayon606 | September 24, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

The original video was pretty corny but the second video.... is just "tasteless".

Posted by: stanl2005 | September 24, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Microsoft is doing this because they have Kevin Turner from WalMart for their COO and wants to do everything on the cheap and he has no clue how to run or engage in the software industry. When is Steve Ballmer going to realize his mistake and fire him.

Posted by: seraphina | September 24, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

In the first video, I see the the continuity people were napping on the set, since at 1:09 the laptop is open, then suddenly at 1:13 it is closed then at 1:30 it's magically open again.

High quality stuff..

Posted by: Annorax | September 24, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh! I just noticed that the digital clock on the oven behind them shows wildly different times throughout the first video. Again -- quality production.

Posted by: Annorax | September 24, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

The day Microsoft makes a product that doesn't suck is the day they make a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: edlharris | September 25, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

The day Microsoft makes a product that doesn't suck is the day they make a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: edlharris | September 25, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Hey, where's the Asian?

Oh, the laptop. Never mind.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | September 25, 2009 3:47 AM | Report abuse

According to the House Party web site the fun ended before it began. They are no longer accepting invitations to host a wingding...ahaha

Posted by: mdgold | September 25, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

The original video is cringe inducing, and even more so when you think that some group of people at MS actually thought this was a great idea. But the second one is just stupid. You have to stretch a long way in your imagination to make that even close to salacious.

Posted by: tojo45 | September 25, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious and typical
Microsoft is noted for its shameless and obvious propagandising. It had a program called "Get the Facts" which was a distribution of propaganda designed to convince the reader that all competing products were poor and everything from MS far superior- and it was about as fair and balanced as Fox news. They had to finally get rid of the "Get the Facts" program because its not so hidden agenda became too obvious. It is also standard practice at MS that when problems or performance issues are observed in an MS product, MS will pay a company to do a "study" or "testing" and by the darndest coincidence it will invariably indicate that there are no problems in the MS products and that it performs quite well (or those problems will be greatly minimised) and ,oh by the way, boy there is something really wrong with those competing products.
MS has always been very ham handed with propaganda, they just go way too far and lose their credibility.

Posted by: dfolk1 | September 25, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Another "This can't possibly be for real" contender.

Below is a link to my favourite example of something regarding MS that one has trouble believing it is for real. And it is for real. I share it for the amusement and astonishment of the readers of this article. The link originates from a pro-MS website advising folks who are hoping to partner with MS about how they should behave when visiting Redmond. This may also provide a little bit of illumination regarding how MS could create a video such as the one seen in this Pegoraro article.

Posted by: dfolk1 | September 25, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Someone ought to come up with their own version of this - instead of these 4 relatively normal looking people, you could have a bunch of fat inebriated nerds wearing Star Trek uniforms trying to host a party in their mother's basement.

Posted by: jackrussell252521 | September 25, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Microsoft's ongoing antics remind me of why I'm delighted to have switched to Ubuntu Linux. As of today, the only program I "need" and for which I've not found a suitable Linux alternative is Photoshop. Yes, I've tried Gimp. In the long run, once a Linux-based photo-processing program close to CS2 becomes available, I won't even need to keep my two XPs operational. Fascinating that MS's "innovation" seems to come mostly from its marketing division. But when comparing comedy videos and other youtube offerings, the MS house party flick pales in comparison.

Posted by: TeresaBinstock | September 25, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The second video is why I love the tubes.

M$, OTOH, is still selling dump trucks.

Posted by: Froomkin_fan | September 25, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Interesting thing is the VIAO computer the guy's using doesn't support hardware virtualization which is required for Win 7 XP mode.

Posted by: kafka2 | September 25, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

This is just so pathetic... And the irony is that Windoze 7 is supposed to be one of Microshaft's best products in decades...

Posted by: jerkhoff | September 25, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Just get a Mac.

Posted by: clark202 | September 25, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | September 25, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

As a Mac user, I must say that I appreciate the bowl of apples (right foreground) and how very well it plays its part.

Posted by: PaKo7 | September 25, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

PaKo7's observation makes me wonder how many of MS's top honchos use a Mac or use Linux when no one is watching.

Posted by: TeresaBinstock | September 25, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Have a look at the digital clock behind the actors. The time jumps forward and backwards during the film. Apparently it took around two and a half hours to record this masterpiece :-)

Posted by: siwsan | September 28, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

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