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This Is Supposed to Make Windows Better than Macs?

Despite claims a while back that some 200 million have downloaded Windows 10, it’s not as successful as Microsoft has hoped. Even though it’s a free download, at least till summer, the migration rate has slowed. One possible reason is that Windows 10 arrived somewhat feature incomplete with loads of bugs. Microsoft has pushed loads of updates, as those who receive Windows Insider betas can attest. Another reason might be that the improvements weren’t all that compelling to PC users, so why bother?

In order to get the word out, Microsoft has aimed its ads towards consumers, as if Windows 10 had some sort of lifestyle advantage over previous versions. But that’s not the company’s target audience. The real money comes from businesses who usually subscribe to packages of updates and support. Is the enterprise going to adopt Windows 10, or will they stick with Windows 7 — or even Windows XP — because the new OS isn’t their cup of tea?

In keeping with its lifestyle approach, Microsoft has posted a new set of TV ads featuring Jess and Kristie, better known as the “bug chicks.” Yes, I’m serious. Some of those with a politically correct bent might regard the implication as sexist, but I wouldn’t go that far. I just think it’s stupid.

So Microsoft wants to show how Windows 10 allows you to do more than a Mac with OS X. More what?

Well, there’s Cortana, the digital assistant that’s similar in concept to Siri, which has yet to debut on Macs. But it might come with OS 10.12, due this fall. The other two “advantages” are Inking, which allows you to draw on a PC with a touchscreen, and the finger and facial recognition authentication feature known as Hello.

All right, is this enough to persuade Mac users to go Windows? Does any of it make you more productive? Are they serious?

I can see where it might be nice to have Siri available on Macs, though I’d regard it as more of an annoyance on anything but a personal digital device such as an iPhone or an iPad. Still, if Apple sees a need for it, fine and dandy. But that’s hardly a game changer, and I wouldn’t turn it on except for testing.

Apple has already decided that touchscreens are not appropriate for traditional note-book computers, and the convertible tablet/note-books you see on the Windows platform tend to be clunky. If that’s what customers want, that’s all right. But it doesn’t seem as if loads of people are buying up these more expensive PCs; it’s still all about cheap and cheaper.

Now Microsoft might have a point with Hello. But there is actually an inexpensive way to login with a fingerprint on your Mac. You need to set up a $3.99 app known as MacID, which allows you to use Touch ID on an iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch to lock down your Mac and unlock it with your finger. You can also use a passcode. Oh, and it appears to work with Pebble smartwatches too, although that version is in beta.

To make it work, you need to pair the app on your mobile device with the OS X version. It is, however, limited to the Macs with Bluetooth LE support, which means models older than 2011 aren’t supported.

Now I grant the login might be a tad more complicated than just having a built-in sensor on a Mac. But if it works as advertised, and it gets a better than four-star rating at the iOS App Store, it may be a really useful solution.

Facial recognition? Consider KeyLemon for Mac, though I’m not at all sure how well it works. Besides, I do not doubt that Apple will consider adding it to Macs and iOS gear if it could be done as reliably as Touch ID. It’s not a reason to choose Windows instead since facial and fingerprint recognition is, as you see, not unique to Microsoft’s platform, though it’s not as seamless yet on Apple gear.

As with any ad of this sort, Microsoft takes a broad brush approach and isn’t considering the nuances, such as third-party methods to use fingerprint and facial logins on a Mac. They are clearly reaching, and Mac users can cite chapter and verse about Windows usability issues. The usual comparisons demonstrate how basic system operations require far more steps on a Windows box than on a Mac. While Windows has improved over the years, far too many operations are still too complicated. But Apple is hardly into the Mac versus PC comparisons anymore in the same way they managed it with sly humor in a popular TV ad campaign some years back. That’s when Macs didn’t get a lot of respect, but things are far better these days. Macs are now taken seriously as business machines.

In any case, I hardly think the bug chicks are going to gain much traction in this new campaign. They have neither the style nor the talent to become pop culture stars.