Elgan: Is Windows 7 cursed?

Windows 7 itself is awesome -- but weird and spooky things are happening around its launch

Almost everyone likes Windows 7. It's faster, cleaner and easier to use. But is paranormal activity wrecking the rollout?

When Microsoft launched Windows 95 some 14 years ago, the entire launch event seemed charmed. It was sunny in Seattle. Locals wondered what that yellow thing was in the sky. And Microsoft's guests, who came in from all corners of the world, joked that Bill Gates must have paid a fortune for such weather.

It was the only Microsoft event I have ever attended where there was genuine excitement in the room. The Windows 95 commercials were optimistic and made you want to use a PC. No question: The Windows 95 launch was magic. Windows 7? Not so much.

Just in time for Halloween, the Windows 7 launch is being undermined by some unexplained phenomena. Consider the following:

What possessed the Today Show?

The Today Show, which averages some 5 million viewers, hosted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to officially launch the Windows 7 operating system. But what possessed the Today Show art department to show Windows 7 on an older MacBook Pro behind Ballmer?

Microsoft can hardly blame the Today people. The company did the same thing in one of its own ads. The laptop used in a TV commercial for Microsoft's Songsmith is a MacBook. Microsoft put stickers all over the Mac, including one strategically placed over the Apple logo, to hide the fact. Are Windows laptops really that hard to find?

Ghost at CNBC crashes Microsoft stock

What kind of poltergeist at CNBC caused the network to mess up the Microsoft guidance numbers? The day after Windows 7's launch, Microsoft announced earnings that, though they represented lower revenue and profits, beat Wall Street estimates and earned the company a rapidly rising stock price. But at approximately 10:50 that morning, CNBC and a Wall Street Journal blog called Digits falsely reported that Microsoft had lowered its previous estimates about future earnings, which triggered a steep decline in the value of Microsoft shares.

Windows 7 burger comes back to haunt Microsoft

Who's the genius who came up with the idea of a promotional Burger King Windows 7 Whopper? It's a regular Whopper hamburger, but with seven hamburger patties. Burger King restaurants in Japan this week started selling the Microsoft tie-in sandwich through a print ad.

Unfortunately, journalists, bloggers and even CNN rushed to Tokyo to try the burger. The ensuing pictures and videos show that the Windows 7 Whopper has all the characteristics Microsoft says Windows 7 itself doesn't have. The burger is big, bloated, ugly, hard to "use" and slow (to eat). The promotion just gave people another reason to laugh at Microsoft's marketing ineptitude.

Windows 7 curse kills Family Guy humor

The Family Guy cartoon is usually hilarious. But a Windows 7 tie-in did nothing but damage the reputations of both Microsoft and Family Guy. The Windows 7 segment -- which isn't a commercial, but actually part of the show -- was meant to go viral, and it did. Unfortunately, all the online chatter about the video was about how bad it was, and how shameful it was for the Family Guy producers to sell out like that.

Windows 7 launch party-goers need an exorcism?

As part of its broad set of Windows 7 launch initiatives, Microsoft contracted with a company called House Party to organize Windows 7 launch parties around the country. Selected party hosts got copies of Windows 7 signed by Steve Ballmer (uh, that increases its value by approximately nothing&), plus "party favors" you would expect to see at the birthday of a 6-year-old.

The video was created by House Party, not Microsoft. But how could Microsoft allow it to happen? You've seen the video. The only possible explanation is that the actors are possessed by evil spirits.

And you've probably seen most of the inevitable parody videos. But have you seen the new Funny or Die parody? Ouch!

Paranormal activity explains loss of Internet at U.K. launch

During the official U.K. launch event in London, the demonstration PCs on the stage lost Internet connectivity during a demo of the Virtual Earth application. Giant screens all over the presentation hall showed huge error messages saying that an Internet connection could not be found.

Lack of Internet access ruined the subsequent demo of the Sky Player. After resuming with a Q&A session and believing the problem solved, Microsoft executives tried again to demonstrate Sky Player, and again the Internet connection had mysteriously vanished.

There's no question about it. Something eerie is happening around Microsoft's Windows 7 marketing. But don't let that spook you. Windows 7 is the best version of Windows that has ever existed.

Just stay away from that burger, and you'll be fine.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com, follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon