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Lying Microsoft Advertising (curi.us)
397 points by xenophanes on May 23, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 246 comments

Here's a proportional image of a VivoTab-shaped rectangle on top of an iPad-shaped rectangle, http://i.imgur.com/UvhNuTA.png

I think the bigger dishonesty is the omission of screen resolution. The VivoTab is 1366x768 vs iPad's 2048x1536. That's three times more pixels crammed into an approximately similar area.

They do the same with the ads against Google, too. They compare themselves in some areas where they can win, and of course disregard all the other areas where they lose. Or worse, they accuse Google of something themselves are doing.

It was pretty much the whole strategy for the "Windows Phone 8 Challenges", too, for which they picked tests where only WP8 can win, and even when they lost they tried to work around acknowledging a win for the Android or iPhone owner.

> They compare themselves in some areas where they can win, and of course disregard all the other areas where they lose.

Aren't you describing how marketing has worked since the dawn of time? I'm genuinely curious why this is worthy of discussion except as an example of how companies commonly market their product.

It seems preposterous to me to expect that companies would willfully enumerate aspects of their product that are weaker than the competition.

Just if you don't know: comparative marketing is disallowed in certain @ countries, since dawn of times.

@ edit: maybe most?

I would like to seem a fact supporting this, I have never been to a country where comparing objects in ads was outlawed, but to be honest I have spent most of my life in the US and travled only to Western Europe.

Spain is one of them. I cannot quote the law but simple experience shows it.

Edit: there is some EU law about it [1] (it was bound to be...).

In the end, as you can only compare 'objetively', you will never do it (because your advert will become boring, mostly). So jokes like Microsoft does about Google are outlawed.

[1] http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/consumer_in...

So is Czech Republic. Comparisons are against "common XXX", not specific brands.

Here, in France, it has been outlawed forever until it was finally authorized in the early 90s. As a then advertising student I can remember there was quite a fuss about it. In reality, comparative advertising is restrained by relatively clear rules and very rare in the wild. The few occurrences of side-by-side products I seem to remember actually involve large US-based international companies.

Usually, the comparison part is limited to a features table.

Turkey, it is not allowed.

Really? Can you give some examples? Is the USA one?

When I visited the USA I was surprised to see comparative advertising on TV. That was something I haven't seen here (Australia).

An example would be fast food ad's - they would show their burger side by side with a competitors comparing the size and cost etc. Nothing like that in Australia.

Update: Wikipedia says "In Australia, no specific law governs comparative advertising"


I am Australian. Remember those Energizer bunny commercials showing the other bunny running out of battery halfway through the race? And a quick google shows that Duracell ran a direct campaign against Eveready which was ruled ok by the courts, as well as a recent court decision in favour of Optus doing direct comparisons with Telstra for mobile phone plans.

To be clear, I do not believe the parent post who said 'this is not allowed in most countries'. I would be less surprised by a claim that this kind of advertising is uncommon in most countries.

Even in india, I hadn't seen the kind of comparative advertising which is commonplace on American TV. Very rarely, some products would compare themselves against "the leading detergent" or somesuch.

Their #scroogled campaign tweets were primarily fueled by the contest to win $500 prepaid Visa card - so they were essentially paying people to bash Google. Nobody noticed.

Thanks. It's actually really hard to see from that image which one is larger.

That's not the point. The op already says the difference is 3% (in iPad's favor). The problem is Microsoft says the Windows one is 36% bigger.


I was glad to see the to-scale comparison. It helped me to see just how similar the two would have looked, had Microsoft drawn them to scale.

FWIW, it looks like Microsoft has edited the page to remove both the screen-size graphics and mention of touchscreen size.

They didn't change the pictures of the two tablets at the top. It is also misleading.

They don't say that it is 36 % larger - they used images that are 36 % larger. But as someone else pointed out they are reusing the image for all models, for example also for the 11.6" one. Admittedly even the biggest display is less than 36 % larger than the iPad.

Love how they use a white iPad and black Asus on a white background here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8...

Makes the iPad's bezel blend into the background and makes the VivoTab look larger.

Honestly? It's unfair because they hid a dead-weight bezel?

Wouldn't this would be irrelevant when you went to a store and saw both side-by-side?

You can fluff your marketing all you want with any kinds of images. As soon as the consumer sees it up close and personal in real life, the jig is up.

When you're buying online, you're not getting that option.

Hanlon's razor, or in Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774): "...misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent."

The same box, in dimensions, was used for the ASUS VivoTab Smart [0], Dell XPS 10 [1], HP ENVY x2 [2], and Microsoft Surface RT [3]. WTF lies!?!? Nay, the page designer was probably just neglectful -- eyeballed or baselined each iteration from a single, different model. Also, every screen manufacturer or advertising will speak towards the diagonal length, where the VivoTab has a lengthier, "bigger" screen.

[0] http://res2.windows.microsoft.com/resbox/en/6.2/2012-win8ga/...

[1] http://res1.windows.microsoft.com/resbox/en/6.2/2012-win8ga/...

[2] http://res2.windows.microsoft.com/resbox/en/6.2/2012-win8ga/...

[3] http://res2.windows.microsoft.com/resbox/en/6.2/2012-win8ga/...

However, they do flat-out lie in the text.

> At the bottom, Microsoft writes, "The ASUS VivoTab Smart is lighter than the iPad, has a bigger touchscreen...". False. It does not have a "bigger touchscreen".

It depends how you define "bigger". There is arguably some good-faith definition of "bigger" for which it's true. (like diagonal measurement)

I'm sure that their lawyers would argue that. I think that a reasonable person comparing screen sizes would be interested in area, not diagonal length.

I disagree. Screen sizes are always quoted in diagonal length.

edit: Not to say that it is unreasonable to think of screen size as area, but I think it is also reasonable to think in diagonal length, since that is the way monitors and TVs are generally advertised.

The fact screen sizes are quoted in diagonal length does not contradict the assertion that reasonable people are more concerned with screen area.

I disagree. I think people SHOULD be more concerned with screen area, but generally aren't.

No one really reports screen area. I can tell you the diagonal off the top of my head of most hero phones, but I couldn't tell you the screen area. In general the same could be said for TVs and Monitors.

It's a hard explanation to give to most people: "Yes, our diagonal is larger, but due to the aspect ratio, the total area available for the screen is actually smaller." We get this on HN, but I guarantee that this would not make things substantially less complex for most people.

That said, they should have asterisk'ed it.

You didn't disagree with the comment that you replied to, which said that the fact screen sizes are quoted in diagonal length does not contradict the assertion that reasonable people are more concerned with screen area. You're just making a different assertion.

Well, no one has asserted facts, only that "reasonable people" care about area, despite no screens being marketed that way. Nonetheless, MS has changed their imagery and copy, and reasonable people will buy these products no more or less than the previous revision -- probably more.

People are irrational, especially with their favorite brands. However, it is the de facto to measure screen size by the diagonal length. Apple does, too, or they use height and not area -- you'll have to compute that and "no one" does. Should we go on and on about how Apple has deceiving marketing, where their height-width ratio is not "good?"

Only if they claim that their 10.1" tablet is bigger than the 9.7" competitor. It's clearly disingenuous to make that claim when the area of the screen is smaller.

Yes - but TV screen sizes are advertised in diagonal length because it is assumed an aspect ratio of 16/9. For a given aspect ratio, larger diagonals imply larger area.

There is a host of aspect ratios for pc displays, 16:10 and 16:9 are both quite popular. Guess what? Nobody runs around looking up screen area. I have a 16:10 display, which is 'bigger' (visually) than a 16:9 of the same diagonal length when working/playing and bloody 'tiny' when watching videos.

All of you are forgetting 'depth', which gives volume. It might well be that they have measured their screen's depth (whatever that means) and it comes out 'bigger' than the one of the iPad.

You never know, with Microsoft.

Man, they are silly adverts but funny anyway.

comparison of diagonal dimension is only reasonable if the aspect ratios are similar.


"Common people" falling for that is a real problem with elementary school level education, far more than false advertising is. And arguing that it is a problem of neither makes one part of it (you didn't quite argue this but some people itt do).

(I was going to jokingly point out that the "best" diagonal length would be that of a thin one-pixel strip, equal to its width, but at least on HN we're all clever people and saw that coming a mile away)

Screen sizes are always, ALWAYS, given in diagonal length. Maybe people assume that a bigger diagonal length gives bigger area too, but that doesn't make the statement "bigger touchscreen" dishonest.

The unambiguously correct term they could have used if they were truly trying to tout their product in good faith is "wider". Calling it "bigger" when only one dimension is bigger and the other dimension and the area and resolution are lower is stretching the limits of good-faith. It looks like a deliberate use of an ambiguity to imply something untrue, and no, the marketing people don't deserve the benefit of the doubt that they might not have understood the difference between diagonal measurement and area measurement.

> It depends how you define "bigger"

Hmm, it has bigger pixels ... :]

So an 8 foot ladder which has rungs 24 inches wide is bigger than a 12 foot ladder which has rungs 15 inches wide?

If ladders were commonly advertised by their width (as TVs are by the diagonal)? Yes, absolutely.

My point may have been too subtle. The GP made the claim that it is false that the ASUS tablet is bigger. I used the same logic to show that an 8 foot ladder can be "bigger" than a 12 foot ladder. By reductio ad absurdum, the claim that bigger only applies to area is shown to be false as you'd be hard pressed to find someone who says "No, no... the 8 foot ladder is bigger than the 12 foot one". This is a concept of "bigger" which can be applied to tablets as well. Whether measured diagonally or by height while standing in portrait mode, the ASUS tablet is bigger in that particular dimension than the iPad.

I'm sure that their marketing department steered well clear of the word "larger" because larger implies an overall size advantage whereas "bigger" can be construed as greater in one dimension.

No, I'd still go with Hanlon's razor, I'd guess whoever wrote it though it was true.

I think you're right, but I think they should still be called out for it.

It's only in the US that I have seen advertisements for a product include direct bashing of a competitor's product. I am not talking about a list of features where you show in which way yours is superior; that is still acceptable (although also deceiving much of the time). I am talking about ads like the Nimoy-Quinto Audi commercial where Nimoy had stupid problems fitting stuff into the Mercedes.

This is such a jarring way to advertise, it's like watching a bully beat a defenseless kid - does anybody feel more sympathy towards the product this way?

The conventional wisdom is that you should punch up, not down. In other words, if you're behind the market leader, it's OK to throw a punch at it in your ads, because your product isn't as widely known or understood as theirs is. But if you are the market leader, you don't throw punches at competitors, because you're already winning and doing so just reminds the viewer/reader/whatever that other alternatives exist.

This mitigates the "defenseless kid" syndrome a bit, because if you only punch up you're by definition only taking on products that are stronger in the marketplace than yours is.

You can see this in action by comparing Apple's ads. They had no problem running the "I'm a Mac" ads when their product (the Mac) was far behind the market leader (Windows PCs). But iPad ads don't do product comparisons, because the iPad owns the tablet market so there's no upside to reminding people that "tablet" does not necessarily equal "iPad."

Coke vs. Pepsi is a classic example. In the Cola Wars, Pepsi, from time to time, punches up against Coke far, far more than Coke ever attacks Pepsi. Coke certainly increased their advertising in response to Pepsi in the height of the cola wars but they never attacked Pepsi outright.

Comparison advertising is also a "marketing smell" (by analogy to "code smell"). If you're doing comparison advertising, you're probably in a Cola War. Cola wars are a negative-sum game where you only have to increase advertising if the competition does--sort of a prisoners dilemma. It's preferable to avoid getting into those.

The classic example of the conventional wisdom you mention is Avis "We Try Harder" (#2) versus Hertz (#1).

To me "We Try Harder" has always sounded like a terrible slogan. In my mind it sounds like they try but fail, rather than actually doing things…

"Avis: The 'A' is for effort!"

In the EU, such advertisements are illegal. http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/consumer_in...:

"Comparative advertising

Comparative advertising explicitly or by implication makes reference to a competitor or competing goods or services.

This type of advertising is only permitted when it is not misleading. It can be a legitimate means of informing consumers of what is in their interests. Therefore, in particular, the comparisons should:

- relate to goods or services which meet the same needs or are intended for the same purpose;

- relate to products with the same designation of origin;

- deal objectively with the material, relevant, verifiable and representative features of those goods or services, which may include price;

- avoid creating confusion between traders, and should not discredit, imitate or take advantage of the trade mark or trade names of a competitor."

That is one reason why you will not see such advertising in the EU. Another may be cultural; in some EU countries, all comparative advertising was illegal before this EU directive (yes, you could not even show your product as being inferior in every way)

Finally, some would see this as the offenseless kid attempting to beat the captain of the boxing team.

> This type of advertising is only permitted when it is not misleading

Maybe you missed a bit? It's perfectly legal, you just need to be 100% factual, and if you're not you'll get taken to the cleaners in court. So people are suitably wary of using it, but it does happen.

(Same basic principles apply in New Zealand, fwiw)

I replied to the first line of the post. It reads: "It's only in the US that I have seen advertisements for a product include direct bashing of a competitor's product". In the EU, you cannot get away with 'direct bashing'.

You can bash, as long as it's factual: "X is more expensive, has a lower resolution, smaller area display, shorter battery life, and is heavier than Y. Buy Y!". They're all facts. But you can't say (in the rest of the world outside the US anyway) "X sucks because it's slower than Y. Buy Y!", unless you have big brave lawyers or X is somehow slower on every independent factual measure.

I think you need the 'sucks' part to talk of bashing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashing_(pejorative) seems to agree:

"Bashing is a harsh, gratuitous, prejudicial attack on a person, group, or subject."

Also, I think you are not ever allowed to say "X sucks" in the EU because that is an opinion, even if X is somehow slower on every independent factual measure and if X is 100% equal to Y in every other quality (price, looks, weight, etc)

For example, a slower car might be more appropriate (= suck less) for people with slower reflexes, a slower mobile phone might stay below your data limits easier, a slower restaurant might give you more time to contemplate about the meaning of life, a higher price might make a product more attractive.

To talk about this from a marketing perspective:

Comparative advertising is best described as a necessary evil. Marketers hate using it -- it's their equivalent of the nuclear option. It's cheap, unimaginative, and universally weakens the customer's evaluation of the brand.

The issue is that it, like a nuclear bomb, it's incredibly effective. Customers remember comparative advertising better, digest it more effectively, and it helps disseminate cognitive information clearly. Ironically, customers internalize comparative advertising more often with regards to the product being denigrated (ie. "This product is worse!") than with the product being promoted (ie. "This product is better!") This is important with low-effort purchases like <$20 consumer goods.

(As an aside: I think the idea of making comparative advertisements illegal is absolutely absurd. What should be made illegal, though, are advertisements like this, which are blatantly false no matter what the fine print says.)

Advertising like that is illegal here in denmark. it's one of the biggest 'culture shocks' I had when visiting the USA. Turning on the tv and seeing an ad openly trashing another product (Along side with seeing a movie edited for tv and broken up with ads every 10 minutes. Also illegal in denmark)

The ad in question was for some kind of medicine for upset stomachs.. A guy is sitting at a bar complaining about his stomach going "I tried this medicine" holds competitors product up to the camera "But it didn't work AT ALL" and then his friend saying "oh there's your problem, this will fix it"..

Very bizarre and shockingly disgusting way to advertise (for someone who grew up in a culture without it)

> Very bizarre and shockingly disgusting way to advertise

Seems more direct than the alternative. If you believe you have strengths compared to your major competitor, why is it bad to lay out the comparison explicitly in your marketing? Sure, comparative advertising can go to far, but why not leave it up the company doing the advertising to make sure they don't come off looking petty?

Because they lie. Directly, or through omission, or through implication, or through some ridiculously convoluted means, but we all know it to be true; we cannot trust the advertiser.

> we cannot trust the advertiser.

Of course you can't. That's why you don't just take advertising at its word. Anyone who does is a fool. But to say that you shouldn't allow comparative advertising because of the possibility of lying is absurd. There are other laws that cover truth in advertising.

Using someone else's brand, without their permission, in a way that will damage their brand, to try to sell your own goods, in a way that everyone knows is going to be fantastically biased. Seems pretty out of order to me. :)

That isn't just culture shock. That is a clear example of the higher integrity (in general) of Danish society than the US. That is, they place a higher value on honesty, fairness, and contributing positively to society. I am from the US, have always lived in the US, and have never been to Denmark. But from my few experiences with people from Denmark, and knowledge about their political/economic/social affairs, it is clear to me this is the case. I understand the analogy about vulgar language, but in my opinion this involves issues of ethics and core values much deeper than just "offensive" words.

To those who misunderstand, it is not a problem to compare your company or product to a competitor. It is only a problem to make a comparison on anything other than a strictly objective, factual basis, which is in no way deceptive (See the comments regarding EU law). I would guess those countries that banned (or still ban) comparisons did so to avoid the hassle of trying to sort out whether something was permissible or not.

> Very bizarre and shockingly disgusting way to advertise (for someone who grew up in a culture without it)

Can you explain why you think this way? Sure, it's not polite, but I don't see how competing for market share would or should be a gentleman's game.

It's disgusting for someone who's not used to it, the same way that offensive and overtly graphical language can be disgusting to someone who grew up in a puritanical household.

It was just a culture shock from being exposed to something that seemed vulgar compared to what I'm used to.

.... and then there was the political ads... jeez :p

Right, but I'm asking you go a little deeper than just seemingly using the word "disgusting" again. I get that you find it disgusting, but can you introspect a little bit about why? I'm genuinely curious.

What is it about your puritanical household that makes an ad meant to positions oneself in a superior light vs. their competitors "disgusting"?

It wasn't just positioning themselves in a superior light, you can advertise your own strenghts without actively smearing someone else. What would you think of a person that instead of spending energy on showing off his qualities, spent all his time ragging on others?

If it was down to me and another candidate for a job then I'd have no problem saying "Look, you want to do X and Y(e.g., multitask); the other candidate doesn't have experience with X and his scores on Y weren't great (let's just say I know this). My experience and test scores are superior for what you want to do, and what you want me to."

Now, that's more civil than the world of advertising, but it's the same general principle. Commercial tend to make it a little bit more humorous. Comparisons aren't always polite, but they're often appropriate.

That's interesting. Personally, if I knew something like that, I think I'd make sure to highlight points where I'd compare favourably to the other candidate, but I'd leave it to the interviewers to actually make the comparison, rather than telling them his weaknesses.

It seems like a purposely mean way to conduct business. I also found this way of advertising gross and unappealing. It makes me think a lot less about the company advertising.

The information in the ad is biased and self-serving, so right off the bat I ignore almost anything they say.

I dont get that feeling at all when a company boasts about "best x, or won y competition" but bashing another product looks childish, mean and immature. A "my kid is better than yours" kind of debate.

I honestly embarrased for them when I see an ad that portrays competitions as mentally inept or comically retarded.

Doesn't that "gross an unappealing" apply to most US advertising.

I don't know about you, but I thought commercials in my country (Netherlands) were stupid until I watched US television. I felt my IQ dropping with each commercial.

Also: advertising prescription pharmaceuticals, and in a way that would embarrass your local street drug dealer...

I was going to mention that, but showed some restraint.

I simply cannot believe those ads are actually effective with the 20 second panic inducing side-effects enumeration.

I swear I saw an add about flew medication with "thoughts of suicide and depression" side-effects. What..the..hell. Who would buy that, and why are they advertising it.

Apple ran the "I'm a Mac; I'm a PC" ads. Those started off as great advertising because they only pointed out bad things about Windows that everyone already accepted as bad things. Once those ads started becoming unnecessarily adversarial, they became bad advertising. Apple probably ran that campaign a bit too long.

Depending on your point of view, Apple's products are either A) Clearly superior or B) Not obviously inferior. For a not insignificant number of people, their choice of smartphone is a personal statement. Attacking products that people love is not a good way to create converts.

Attacking products that clearly suck works until a point. Then it starts to feel like a bully beating a defenseless kid. Microsoft's advertising feels more like a nerdy kid who spent all night thinking up clever and witty retorts, only to fail miserably in delivering them when face to face with the bully. The crowd of cool kids don't laugh with the nerdy kid, they laugh at them.

Depending on your point of view, Apple's products are either A) Clearly superior or B) Not obviously inferior.

I prefer systems with a window manager that actually supports multi-tasking.

Having one shared menu bar is a pain. Having a row of icons for possibly-already-running applications, instead of a list of what windows you have open, is a pain.

Click-to-raise is less of a pain, but still annoying. Which is why I run XFCE on my desktop at home, since MS Windows and Gnome (and I think KDE?) get this one just as wrong as Apple does.

One shared menu bar at the top of the screen is supported by Fitts's Law, which says that targets at the edge of the screen are faster and easier to click:


No comment on the rest.

Fitt's Law also says that closer targets are easier to click, and is concerned only with how long it takes to move the mouse pointer rather than how that fits into the larger picture of what you're doing.

Having the menu separate from the window breaks spatial locality and associates the menu to the computer rather than to the application.

And this is mostly relevant on big screens like the biggest iMacs. It's just wrong, imo.

Gnome doesn't require "click-to-raise," though it's the default.

You aren't likely to convert any current tablet owner with a commercial. You can influence the customers who aren't married to any ecosystem or brand, though.

Of course you can convert any iPad owner who is eager to have a usable keyboard and a great Office suite on her tablet so she can stop carrying both a tablet and a laptop with her everywhere.

Office suite, sure, but keyboard? In both cases, a physical keyboard is an add-on that you buy, and the quality of the keyboard is pretty much up to you to decide then.

Useable keyboard: bluetooth keyboard. Office suite: Pages, Numbers, Keynote.

> This is such a jarring way to advertise, it's like watching a bully beat a defenseless kid - does anybody feel more sympathy towards the product this way?

At least in this case, the iPad is so dominant that they probably feel there's no alternative but to address it directly. I'm sure the marketing team knows better, but they're making the comparison because they're in a position of extreme weakness. It's an act of desperation. The defenseless kid here is actually Microsoft.

yes, in Europe it's subtle at least.

remember a BMW (or audi, or benz) comercial where it showed a spy type scaping from several bad guys, and all the bad guys had the competitor car (i think the bad guys had mbenz) and they were all sliding off curves and crashing...

Maybe slightly off-topic, but I came across a sly (and clever) way to advertise by belittling your competition:


The 404 page ("Oops! Looks like we lost one").

Anyone who is into road cycling will get the pun immediately. Specialized vs Giant. The Rabobank team rides Giants. While the Specialized guy is riding in the front of the pack on that picture :)

Yes, I think it's illegal in Europe, or at least in some countries.

I've always chalked it up not as advertising but as branding. Those commercials serve to build a brand around a product and keep current owners involved in the brand, through feelings of superiority or whatever.

It's like CocaCola commercials: they don't need awareness through advertising, they want branding. Everyone knows what Coke is, but they want you to associate happiness with their product, so they keep branding.

So when I see luxury brands bashing each other, I imagine that's part of what rich people pay BMW and Mercedes for. For that feeling of "I'm better than you because I own X", which the brands deliver through marketing like this.

I remember a keynote a Steve Jobs where he did something very similar: he presented a 3D pie chart, where the Apple part was highly distorted.

Picture: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/Jobs_08_keynote_dsc_0...

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2008/jan/21/liesda...

A trick of perspective is a lesser lie than specifically claiming a smaller screen is bigger.

Especially when combined with an accurate numerical reference.

In face a trick of perspective is a 3% larger lie.

This isn't similar at all. Jobs and co are using the viewing angle of a 3d graph to have the Apple share be closer and 'larger' than the farther and now 'smaller' Other section.

What Windows is representing and outlining here has no basis in fact.

> Jobs and co are using the viewing angle of a 3d graph to have the Apple share be closer and 'larger' than the farther and now 'smaller' Other section

Actually, the tablet _is_ bigger in the diagonal measurement as they claim, which is the standard measurement of screen sizes.

They're both subterfuge. Don't raise one above the other.

The diagonal is longer, the screen is not bigger. That is a flat out lie.

Without rooting for one or the other. Bigger is not a measurement. Bigger is relative to the method of measurement/definition, and its comparison with a second one. If screen size is measured/defined by its diagonal, than the screen is bigger.

What the fuck is wrong with you people? I mean, really.

No, that is definitely not how it works. You can redefine screen size into some absurd bullshit, but that just means you are crazy, not that you are right.

In some cases the screen diagonal is a good proxy for screen size and it’s reasonable to use it (for TVs, for example, they are practically always 16:9). However, when that proxy reaches the boundaries of its usefulness and you still use it, you are a fool.

Here's an interesting summary of the US Federal Trade Commission "Picture Tube Rule" (from 1966) on display size measurements, including discussion of the merits of horizontal vs. diagonal measurements. http://www.ftc.gov/os/2006/06/P9242414PictureTubeRuleConfirm...

Suffice it to say, the discussion of how screen size is to be measured is as old as television itself. It does not imply one is crazy.

Sigh. This shit is frustrating. You don’t get it, do you? How can you be so blind? How can you have this weird view? This is batshit insane and completely mystifying.

No one ever with a clear head could assume that display size = diagonal. That works if the aspect ratio is unchanging (nowadays 16:9 TV screens are competing with 16:9 TV screens) and there is no problem doing just that. It works less well with variant aspect ratios, though it still is a sort of reasonable proxy for screen size – but if you explicitly write that some screen is larger than another one while it very obviously isn’t – using the diagonal as a justification – you are just insane. Nothing else.

Plus: You are confused about the actual content of the document you linked. (In general I also have no problem with the diagonal being used in advertising. It’s not ideal but I won’t get mad about it. I will get mad about it if someone defends outright lying in ads.

> How can you be so blind? How can you have this weird view? This is batshit insane and completely mystifying.


> display size = diagonal [...] works if the aspect ratio is unchanging

I get that.

> It works less well with variant aspect ratios,

I get that too.

> if you explicitly write that some screen is larger than another one while it very obviously isn’t – using the diagonal as a justification – you are just insane. Nothing else.

I'm imagining a movie where the cops bust through the door to a suspect's apartment to find the walls completely papered with newspaper and magazine clippings of ads for televisions and computer monitors ... all oriented diagonally.

One detective deadpans to the other "Well, I think we've found our killer".

> Plus: You are confused about the actual content of the document you linked.

I only claimed that the document contained "an interesting summary of the US Federal Trade Commission 'Picture Tube Rule' (from 1966)" and "discussion of the merits of horizontal vs. diagonal measurements".

I think those are defensible claims.

You can redefine screen size into some absurd bullshit, but that just means you are crazy, not that you are right.

Except they are not redefining it, that is how it is always advertised. Nobody advertises screen size based on actual area, it is diagonal size.

You can bitch about that being the standard way people report it, but don't blame individual people when they use the same standard everybody else does.

No, a screen diagonal is advertised, not a screen size. That’s misleading and bad and all that, but at least it’s not a flat out lie.

If you then go on and talk about some screen being larger based on its diagonal while it’s not you are wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s unacceptable. Completely. It’s crazy to even think that’s even a little bit ok.

Screen size was never defined as the diagonal. The diagonal is just that, a diagonal. It tells you something about the screen size and is an awesome proxy if you are comparing devices with the same aspect ratio, but it doesn’t make smaller screens actually larger. That’s just insane.

The diagonal is a proxy and always has been, never anything else.

That's about equivalent to saying that I did something first because I did it at 7:00 AM Pacific Time and you did it at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. I mean, clock time _is_ how we measure time, right? And 7 is clearly less than 9. Diagonal measures are a useful shorthand for size when aspect is the same, but they are deceptive when comparing two screens with different aspects.

Diagonals are GMT.

So wait the complaint is that 19.5% is "highly distorted" to look bigger than 21.2% even though they are clearly labelled with the actual numbers?

If I wanted to minimize other I'd leave it off the chart. I've seen plenty of graphs do this without being called "highly distorted".

Apparently Jobs is a "snake oil salesman" because he puts the "other" category last instead of second even though "other" is probably a number of different companies that are presumably not broken out themselves because they are smaller.

Apple's iPhone advertising was also the subject of several lawsuits that resulted in the (now) wide-ranging disclaimer of "Sequences shortened, screen images simulated", when they spent ads talking about how quick and easy it was to do things on the iPhone, that in reality took much longer than the demonstration implied.

I clicked the title expecting it to be hyperbolic outrage at an advertising half-truth, but — yeah, that really is flat-out wrong. I can see how it could perhaps happen unintentionally, but Microsoft should definitely change the ad after they see this.

I'm pretty sure it got flagged off the front page by other people who expected the same from the title.

It dropped from #12 to #40 while the age went from around 17 to 19min and votes went up from 6 to 8. That can't be right without flags.

It's now #31 with 13 points and 27min, might get back on. It was also #31 less than a minute ago with 11 points, but 2 quick votes didn't move it up. That seems odd. Maybe I don't understand how this works, I don't know.

EDIT: and now it jumped to #7, still with 13 points. There must be some delay before stories move around, but I really don't get it.

EDIT 2: #1 and Daring Fireball picked it up. I really don't get to complain anymore :D http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/05/23/screen-size-shen...

Seems like a lot of energy wondering about the dynamics of what people think about a posting.

Wondering about the HN algorithm, not about what people think. And I like to wonder about things.

EDIT: It's #10 now. The three directly above it are all older with at least 100 fewer upvotes. It's gotta be flags. Apparently flagging front page stories lowers their ranking a lot. Interesting, IMO.

The HN algorithm is more than just a function of time, upvotes, and flags. At the very least there is also a flamewar detection algorithm that shuffles flamewar inciting posts down. This algorithm, or similar, is also used to hide the 'reply' links during flamewars.

Clearly, no other company ever tried to tweak sizing or dimension of products in diagrams for their own benefit. Definitely not Apple.



So that makes this deceitful ad by Microsoft okay?

No, but this article was a bit of sensationalist hype (which, btw, I thought was against hacker news conduct?) This kind of stuff should be taken in context.

sensationalist hype? It presents calculations of area, and states that the objective comparisons made by MS are objectively wrong.

It doesn't even say that the ASUS tablet is worse or that the iPad is better. This is possibly the least sensationalist article I've ever seen that mentions both Apple and Microsoft.

How is a diagonal length a calculation of area? There is no way to specifically determine area given a diagonal.

Which add is not deceitful because it highlights strengths and hides weaknesses? It makes absolutely no sense to attack a single add, they all do it, so if you want to complain, complain about all adds.

This ad is not highlighting strengths and hiding weaknesses... it is straight up lying.

There is no wrong fact in there. A 10.1" display is larger than a 9.7" display if you compare them by the length of the diagonal. This is common practice. It was the article that claimed that larger display means larger display area. The add leaves to used metric open but implies that it is the length of the diagonal. The same for the images. The add claims nowhere that they are to scale. The article just decides that they should be to scale.

So they are trying to create favorable image of their product, but they are not lying more than a price of $9.99 is lying by pretending to be way below $10.00.

What the fuck are you talking about?

A longer diagonal does not imply a larger screen with variant aspect ratios. To compare two screens based on their diagonal is fine if they have the same aspect ratio and I have no problem with ads doing just that, but this here is utterly unacceptable. There is no weaseling out of this. You cannot redefine screen size as diagonal length, that makes no sense with variant aspect ratios.

I’m also not really aware of such brain-dead comparisons being widespread in ads and official documents. Sure, it’s an easy enough mistake for consumers to make (especially since the diagonal is used so often in ads, even if not in comparisons), but if companies make that mistake, than that’s stepping over the line. By a mile.

There is nothing acceptable about this. Nothing at all.

(I can believe that this was a honest mistake, some intern screwed up or something. Shit happens. As I said, it’s easy to assume that the diagonal tells the whole story. So I would definitely not jump to the conclusion that this is some evil plot – but I cannot fathom how anyone can honestly belief that this is somehow defensible and might be in any way acceptable if it were not a honest mistake but intentional.)

It is just the way it is (currently) done - displays are compared by the length of their diagonals, aspect ratio is ignored. Which consumer has an idea what 291 cm² vs 281 cm² of screen area means? Which customer distinguishes between 32" 16:9 and 32" 16:10? No one does that. Everybody has an idea of the size of his 10" tablet - nobody even cares if it is 10", 10.1" or 10.2" let alone the aspect ratio - his 17" notebook and his 42" TV and that is what they use for rough comparisons. As far as consumers are concerned display size is diagonal length.

So by giving the two numbers 9.7" and 10.1" they gave away all information consumers will look at. What are the alternatives? Not giving the numbers? Not good, consumers want to know display sizes. Adding the aspect ratios 4:3 and 16:9? Nobody cares to calculate what that implies. They could have left out the sentence saying that the 10.1" display is larger, but every consumer reading 10.1" and 9.7" already decided on their own that 10.1" is bigger.

So yes, this is not scientifically accurate, but good enough for consumers. And the few percent that care about 10 cm² more or less and resolutions or pixel densities - both not given in the add - are able to figure out the details on their own.

Again: What the fuck are you talking about?

Where are the ads that actually call a screen that is not actually larger larger based on its diagonal? Most companies do not dare to step over that line. Because it’s wrong and all kinds of fucked up. Oh, sure, they might call a screen that is actually larger (but not quite as much larger as its diagonal might imply) larger and present the diagonal in big letters. But calling something that isn’t larger larger? WTF?

I’m sure consumers are often confused – but not because companies are actively calling something larger that actually isn’t.

I think you are very confused about what’s happing here and you seem to have serious issues separating consumer misunderstanding and companies lying. One is sad, the other is evil and has to be called out. And loudly. There is no weaseling out of this. This isn’t even a tiny little bit ok maybe if you squint. This just is not ok. (But, again, I’m not sure there is any intent here. Maybe it was just a stupid mistake.)

Besides that most consumers will just look at the table and never read the small sentence next to the link to the shop, what is the difference if you omit the statement? Consumers will see 9.7" and 10.1" and say that 10.1" is larger. What if you add another row with aspect ratios next to diagonal lengths? Consumers will still say that 10.1" is larger. Adding or removing the sentence makes no difference because as far as consumers are concerned display size is diagonal length and not display area.

What do you suggest, how should the add be modified? As stated above, just omitting the statement makes no difference, the customers will just conclude that the 10.1" display is the larger one. Should they add something like »Our tablet has a larger display diagonal but due to the different aspect ratios the display area is actually a 3.5 % smaller«? Leave out the display sizes in the first place?

So in my opinion leaving out the statement makes you not really that much more honest because the numbers just imply the statement for consumers. You have moved from saying something wrong (if you insist that display size is has always to be interpreted as display area and not diagonal length) to not telling the whole truth and letting the consumer make a wrong conclusion. Omitting the display sizes is not really an option. What remains is requiring them to add statements to the add that explicitly name weaknesses of the product and this is completely against the purpose of an add.

I have another idea - rewrite the statement to read »[...] has a larger display diagonal than [...]« instead of »[...] has a larger display than [...]«. What will consumers read? Of course, »has a larger display«. Now it is a true statement but still misleading.

The lie is in their graphic.

It seems to me as though most of Microsoft's advertising lately feels a tad deceitful/disingenuous. Whether it's trying to convince that Bing really is better than Google (really it is I promise), or that Windows 8 just blows people away with it's ease of use, I feel as though the campaigns are trying to convince me that I am the problem. Maybe I'm being unfair... not sure, it's just how it hits me.

This is a big part of why I can't take Microsoft seriously these days. I don't know if it's a function of their corporate culture, but they seem utterly incapable of being honest - either in their advertising or even with themselves.

Every major failure is couched as some kind of success. Windows 8 has been a flop no matter which way you cut it, but if you listen to Microsoft's external and internal messaging Win8 is a dramatic success that has sold like hotcakes.

I'm pretty sure if Microsoft was in charge of Chernobyl they'd find some way to spin it into a successful advancement of nuclear safety.

At some point you just have to come out with a mea culpa. Sorry guys, this was crappy, we will be better. Not every product is a smash hit, not every decision the right one - your ability to own up to these and fix these are infinitely more important to me as a customer than your ability to look me in the eye and call the sky purple with a perfect deadpan.

Windows 8 has been a flop no matter which way you cut it

They've sold 100 million licenses in 6 months. That's more than any competitor. Sure you can say it's a flop, but there's clearly ways to cut it where it's not. I think it's done surprisingly well considering the amount of change they put in it.

To put it another way, in six months I believe they've sold about as many Win8 licenses in six months as the iPad has sold in 3 years.

How about things like Chromebooks failing utterly to sell even more than Windows RT yet Google proclaiming BS stats like topping Amazon instead of releasing real figures? http://www.zdnet.com/first-real-world-usage-figures-suggest-...

Or like proclaiming that one Celeron Chromebook had a Core processor? That story won't get upvoted on HN saying Google is lying(a much bigger lie than this one) but it's open season on Microsoft. PR is everywhere but people color it with their own biases.

I just got upvoted plenty a few hours ago for ripping ChromeOS a new one. This "whine about pro-Google bias whenever somebody insults poor Microsoft" nonsense is getting pretty damn old.

So, one company making misleading statements makes it OK for every company to do the same...

No, but it is funny how only MS makes #1 on HN when they do so. Whereas if Google does so it is immediately flagged beyond recognition with everyone saying, "Well they aren't as bad Microsoft probably sort of. Remember 15 years ago when MS did this!"

This post is not about Google - it's about Microsoft.

Funny you should mention amazon. Do they ever quanify kindle sales numbers or just loads or multiples of how many Jeff B sold x number of months ago.

Windows 8 has been a ROARING success no matter which way you cut it. 100 million in 6 months is way more than any version of Mac OS or Google Chrome OS will EVER sell.

“100 million in 6 months”

100 million licenses sold to OEMs and the retail channel. Actual sell-through is unknown. But even if we use these numbers, Windows 8 is much less of a success than Windows 7. Four years a go, there were half as many Windows PCs as there are now, but Microsoft sold the same number of Windows 7 licenses in the same amount of time.

Also, if PC sales are any indicator, consumers and businesses alike are not interested in Windows 8. Back when Windows95 was introduced, people were camping out in front of computer stores to get their hands on it. Are you willing to bet what percentage of Windows 8 sales are boxed upgrades?

This isn't four years ago. There are viable alternatives to a Windows PC, there's less reason to upgrade four year old computers, and people are understandably hesitant about buying a Windows tablet. It will take time for Microsoft to overcome these factors. It's still a success when you account for these things.


You're like the Microsoft version of Gruber

This post contributes nothing.

I don't read Gruber. So not sure if that was a compliment or not!

He's infinitely more tolerable than a typical Apple fan. I would treat it as a compliment.

How does it compare to the Windows 7 for the equivalent time span?

Their "Mojave" campaign gave me the same impression. They invited people into tents to try out their latest and greatest OS, called Mojave, and after the person sang the OS's praises they revealed that it's actually Windows Vista.

The whole thing was basically Microsoft saying "you're all wrong, Vista is great and you just aren't smart enough to understand that unless we trick you into it".

I think the strategy worked pretty well for margarine and instant coffee. It's a proven technique whenever you've given up hope on elating consumers, but still have a product you need to convince people isn't quite as disappointing as they expected.

This, among other things, is what happens when Microsoft hires a Political Strategist to be their Vice President for Strategic and Special Projects[1]

Frankly between their "Scroogled" campaign and all of their other advertisements, I'm starting to lose a lot of what respect I had for MSFT.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Penn

(Sadly) advertising is just about that - bending the truth until it looks good; highlighting your strengths and not mentioning your weaknesses. If showing two images that are not to scale is the only thing wrong with this add, the headline is really exaggerated.

And the diagonal is larger, nowhere did they mention that larger display means larger display area. So at best the used metric is unintuitive, meaningless and/or underspecified, but that's far from lying. Welcome to the world of advertising.

Just because everyone does it doesn't mean it's not lying and doesn't mean the headline is exaggerated.

Admittedly the add is lying if you use the weaker interpretation (To convey a false image or impression.) instead of the stronger and more common one (To give false information intentionally.). Yes, the images do the former form of lying but the numbers are still correct.

But if you start to use the weaker interpretation of lying to judge adds, than all adds not mentioning the product's weaknesses are lying and I guess the number of non-lying adds will settle very close to zero.

How is showing two images not to scale not giving false information intentionally? The whole point of having the graphical representation is so that you can compare them visually, otherwise they could just list the dimension as a number. They intend for the reader to compare them visually, and the result of that comparison is an incorrect understanding of the relative size. The only way this isn't giving false information intentionally is if they made their diagram not to scale by accident somehow, which strikes me as unlikely.

It does not give false information intentionally because they nowhere claim that the images are to scale - it is just your assumption that they should be to scale. Therefore it is (almost surly intentionally) deceiving by exploiting a reasonable assumption. But for me this is as much lying as a price of $9.99 is lying because it is trying to trick the customer into the impression that the price is way below $10.00.

(Almost) every add uses beautiful images, good looking people, nice music and so on just to manipulate you. I don't say that this is a necessarily a good thing, but it is definitely a wrong thing to bash a single add for doing this and behaving as if nobody else does it.


Because the text 10.1" is wider than 9.7" they could have ended up with similar images by just making them the same height and using the same padding on the left and the right (but they did not - the 10.1" image has more padding than the 9.7" image).

> It does not give false information intentionally because they nowhere claim that the images are to scale - it is just your assumption that they should be to scale.

You'd make a good lawyer, but in the real world any reasonable adult would conclude that this is lying.

If people are going to interpret the diagram as being to scale, and they know people are going to interpret the diagram as being to scale, and they deliberately make it not to scale in order to mislead, then they are lying. I don't really care about some nebulous "it doesn't say they're to scale" that neither side of this ever considered.

As someone else pointed out, they used the same image for all models, the 11.6" has the same image (actually they removed the images a few minutes ago and now there are only numbers). Admittedly the images are not to scale even for the largest model but I think they just created an image larger than that of the iPad and did not really think about scale.

If you insist that showing the images not to scale is a really bad thing, what about the add photos of say a Big Mac? Mine never looks that beautiful, fresh and large. Bad thing? No, advertising. No one seriously expects that the product exactly matches the one shown in an add. That's what they do, highlight things, hide other things, make their product look good.

I am with you, they could have avoided the images but the result is not much different - most consumers will see 10.1" vs 9.7" and conclude the 10.1" display is the larger one.

If they showed a Big Mac next to a Whopper where the Big Mac was clearly bigger, but the real-life Whopper was actually bigger (no clue if this is true, just an example), in an explicit size comparison, I would have no compunction at all calling it a lie.

Well images are scaled differently: iPad is scaled down more than other device. That's the main problem. It is not forgetting to mention something it is blatant visual manipulation.

It's like the Megahertz Myth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megahertz_myth

Their claim is technically true, if the way you agree to measure size is diagonally (this is how TVs are advertised after all), and also pretty meaningless and disingenuous. What I find interesting is that Apple on the other hand rarely seems to focus the message on numbers, even when they have a real numerical advantage.

Apple seems to appeal to consumers by the appearance and experience more than anything. When they do mention numbers, it's always "x% faster, x% smaller!", which is really all anyone cares about -- "How much better is this compared to what I already have?"

Technically, their claim is completely false.

Could I also claim that a 12" by 1" touchscreen is bigger than a 10.1" since it has a 12.04" diagonal?

Screens are traditionally measured diagonally. This worked fine when everything was a 4:3 ratio. Now that ratios are more variable, but we still use that measurement. Microsoft's claim about the diagonal measurement is absolutely true; they never mentioned screen area. Apple was certainly happy to make the iPhone 5 screen taller and call it a brilliant, beautiful, amazing, really great, 4" screen.

I think what they say is shady, but as the parent of this thread states, it is technically accurate to say that their screen is larger by industry standard measurements (i.e. corner to corner).

Sure. The operative part of that sentence is: if the way you agree to measure size is diagonally

But the way we measure the size of things is ... by their size. We could just as well say their statement is true if we agree to define "bigger" as "smaller" and vice-versa.

I'm definitely not defending microsoft here, because it's not something I understand the reasoning of. For some reason, we decide to measure monitors/tvs/displays by their diagonal. I don't get it, but that's what happens. When someone says '15 in screen' they mean 'a screen with a 15 in diagonal'.

When microsoft says 'it has a bigger screen' it is a shortcut to saying 'the ipad has a 9.7 in screen, and we have a 10.1 in screen. therefore ours is bigger.' Given the context of talking about screens, this does make sense.

You can point out that 'oh, but the ipad has a bigger screen by area' and you are correct. But that doesn't change the fact that the number associated with screensize for every fricken screen on sale today is bigger on their product than it is for the ipad. That's not a lie.

I wouldn't be surprised if they can legally say "The Asus tablet has a 10.1" screen and the iPad has a 9.7" screen", but I'd strongly expect they need a "* based on diagonal measurement" footnote to get away with calling that display "bigger". But I'm not a lawyer.

I think what you mean to say is "by their area" which is not necessarily true.

Sometimes, we do measure things by a single dimension. Such as height. A person can't claim a world record on hobese.

Area would probably be a more useful measurement for screens but historically, for better or worse, that's not they've been advertised and that's not how consumers are used to comparing them.

A person can't claim a world record on height by being morbidly obese.

Yeah, but a person could claim a world record on size by being morbidly obese. If they said "I'm the biggest person in the world", they'd be making a statement that can be reasonably judged technically true, even if the listener might mistake their meaning to be that they're the tallest. Anyway, I know what you mean, I just think this is past the line of being arguably "technically true".

All the laptops, tablets, TV screens I have seen are measured diagonally. That's how it's always been done. Maybe that's not how it should be done. But it IS how it's generally done.

And I've got no problem with them saying their diagonal is bigger. But, to me at least, they can't say the screen is bigger and be on the "OK" side of even technical truthfulness.

Apple not only refrains from focusing on numbers, but they actively go out of their way not to.

Apple simply does not list any number they don't think is important. For example, this is the sum total of their information, in their tech specs, about what kind of CPU the iPad has, how fast it is, and how much RAM it has:

"Dual-core A6X with quad-core graphics"

If you want to know the clock rate or RAM quantity, you have to go to third-party sites that have basically reverse-engineered the information.

To a techie, this behavior looks mildly crazy, but it seems to work.

> To a techie, this behavior looks mildly crazy, but it seems to work.

Problem is that the numbers are mostly meaningless, and are becoming ever more so. People don't buy cars based on the type of brakes, the size of the oil sump, or even the number of cylinders. "does it have enough power to pull a trailer?" "is the handling nice?" "do you get a lot of road noise?" "can I connect my iPhone into the stereo?" "does it look good?" "is it safe?" "is it comfortable?"

The PC industry for a long time has competed in "numbers", to it's detriment. You can't meaningfully compare a A6 vs Core2 vs i7 vs AMD vs ARM processors (let alone computers) by looking at clock speed - what you're actually wanting to know is "will it compile my code quickly?" "can the latest games run at a high frame rate?" "do I get good battery life?" "does it get hot?" "will it boot up quickly?" "can I connect 3x screens all playing simultaneous HD video?" - those questions are about the whole system, and arguably the OS/software/disks have magnitudes more impact than the actual CPU in a lot of cases.

Apple gets this. New iPads will always perform better than the previous one, just like virtually every tech device. And the only way to meaningfully compare against android or other tablets is by comparing battery life, UI response, app startup times, display types - all system-level comparisons.

I agree, it generally makes sense in advertising, because buyers care about other things.

Where it bugs me is as a developer. I'd be fine if Apple wouldn't market based on tech specs, but Apple doesn't even make them available. A buyer doesn't need to know how much RAM an iPad has, but I do, and it's annoying that I have to rely on my own poking and third-party reverse engineering to find out instead of just looking it up.

If Apple were selling a truck, do you think they would tell you its weight and horsepower?

I really don't understand why this is crazy at all. Clock speeds haven't been useful for years in determining your overall system preformance (have they ever, really? There are so many numbers involved in getting a meaningful picture of performance for almost any computing device that putting that information out there would confuse most people.

Furthermore, you can't just run almost any OS on the iPad anyway (like, say, you can with a Mac) so it's not directly relevant as say, on a PC.

In defense of a wider/more horizontal form factor, it sure helps when displaying more than one app at-a-time. Which coincidentally is one of the main selling points of Win8.

I know that sounds a bit snarky, but it sure sounds and feels better than fuzzy math.

It's also better for most video content; an iPad watching a 16:9 TV stream is only using 75% of the screen. Apple itself has moved to a widescreen format for the iPhone 5, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a future iPad do that too. I think there's lots of value to squarer aspect ratios for desktop/text usage (c.f. the Chromebook Pixel moving slightly in the opposite direction), but for a media device like a phone or tablet I'd expect them all to converge on the aspect used by content.

Obviously none of that has to do with the bad math in the MS ad. The iPad screen is, in fact, larger than the Asus one.

There are other, more subtle, sleazy things in that ad. Microsoft seems to choose how many places to display after decimal points in a "convenient" way.

Large batter life is good, so Microsoft displays "9.5" for its product, but "10" (not "10.0") for the iPad, making it less visually obvious (same number of digits) that the iPad is better.

Small weight is good, so Microsoft displays "1.3" for its product (not "1.30"), but "1.44" for the iPad, making the Microsoft number seem more favorable (one less digit) than it really is.

Of course, numbers are numbers and anyone that is even half-way thinking realizes that 9.5 and 10 are virtually the same (within 5%), and 1.3 and 1.44 are virtually the same (within 10%), but altering the number of digits probably does have some psychological impact on people that aren't really thinking.

You do realize that in both cases they are eliminating a trailing 0, right? It is a major stretch to try to say this is sleazy.

A) Actually, I don't know that it is a zero that is being dropped, even though that may be likely. If numbers were being reported by a scientist, dropped digits would be an indication that the measurement wasn't accurate to any more digits than those displayed, so 1.3 might really be 1.3476 but their measuring device just couldn't measure it that accurately.

B) I think it's pretty unusual to offer up a side-by-side comparison of numbers that aren't showing the same number of digits after the decimal point (hence, not a major stretch to call it sleazy). Do you ever see prices quoted as "$12.3" instead of "$12.30"?

A) I was just assuming that your numbers were correct. Regardless, though, the numbers aren't being reported by a scientist. They are being reported to consumers in an advertisement. I wouldn't call leaving off sig figs, or even rounding, sleazy in this case. But we probably just disagree on that.

B) $12.3 isn't a very good comparison because in the context of currency, the numbers after the decimal really signify number of cents, not a fraction of a dollar (although they are equivalent).

I was just assuming that your numbers were correct.

Just to be clear, these are not my numbers, they are Microsoft's numbers. If the weight is really 1.3476 lbs and Microsoft reports it as 1.3, the number is "correct" and they've told no lie, but it is certainly unfair to print the competing number to an extra digit (1.44). On the other hand, if the weight is really 1.3476 and they reported it as 1.30 that would be a flat-out lie (as in "class action lawsuit for false advertising"). So, did they print it as "1.3" instead of "1.30" because zeros aren't first-class numbers, or because the zero would be a lie? As I said earlier, I'm willing to believe that it is probably really 1.30, but none of us know that for sure -- Microsoft has made no statement about what comes after the 3.

Regarding (B), we have "cents" because we consider two digits after the decimal point to be significant in most contexts (not on your U.S. federal tax forms, if my memory is correct, since you are instructed to supply only whole dollar amounts, and not for stock prices that may have many more significant digits than 2 after the decimal). If you put an item on a digital scale it displays either 1.3 or 1.30 or 1.300 depending on how many digits are considered significant. To do a side-by-side comparison where you are treating the 2nd digit after the decimal as significant in one case but not in another is odd.

Also the usage of color is fascinating: The put two things side-by-side and highlight one of them in gray and one in a subtle green, which immediately conveys the message "stronger color = better value". It looks like a product comparison with the better values highlighted. And isn't. The whole page is a great example of black-hat marketing.

>The whole page is a great example of black-hat marketing.

You mean similar to the Marketing tricks we now see everywhere?

The use of $X.99 or $X99.99 to subconsciously trick your brain into seeing a lower price point

The use of bold fonts to re-enforce the message

The choice of colors - Eg: Hollywood with Blue and Orange for posters and covers to enforce the cool and energetic feel.

I can agree that the page uses clever marketing but seriously black-hat? Not even remotely close.

I don't have the book handy but I think Edward Tufte discussed this sort of lying in his classic book.


If you hate this, be sure to politely register your displeasure with @fxshaw on Twitter. Frank is the head PR guy for Microsoft.

Whether you like Microsoft or not, they have some promising new products, but I feel like they are sabotaging their efforts with lies like this.

reminds of the ad Microsoft is running that they call "Scroogled". They claim that Bing is better than google and even have ppl on TV test it out. I tried taking that challenge and bing fails 95% of the time compared to google results.

Bing has won that test for my, my girlfriend, and 3/5 of my office mates. I still use Google most of the time out of habit, but I was still surprised by the results.

I'm not saying I'm representative of any particular group, but I don't think the fact that it didn't work for you makes the whole campaign a farce.

IIRC, they won by suggesting single-word search strings. For very easy searches, Bing slightly edges out Google, but no one cares, because both of them have the thing you're looking for on the first page. For those awful long-tail searches, Bing completely flames out, while Google often does a decent job. For a more interesting test, try describing things as if you know what you're looking for but can't remember the name (movies, products, etc.).

I can only speak for myself and say I was definitely not using single-word search strings. That would be awful uncritical of me.

For "normal" things I ended up slightly leaning towards Bing; for programming and technical searching it was Google by a mile.

Google also wins massively for non-English search terms in my experience.

LilValleyBigEgo, looks like you are hellbanned. All your comments are dead. https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=LilValleyBigEgo

You need to make a new account.

Wow, looks like he was hellbanned for a year and a half, still contributing, and I don't see anything wrong with the few posts prior to the ban. Account hasn't submitted spam. What an abuse of the hellban feature.

To say that, don't you need to know that no other reason was in play? For example, he made a lot of unpopular comments before he was banned. Perhaps he made some other accounts to upvote himself to counteract this. My point is, you don't actually know that any abuse occurred unless you know why he was banned, and you don't.

That doesn't sound like an offense that should be hellbanned.

I can put it another way: if your comments contribute then your account shouldn't be banned. External factors don't matter at all. Even if you're hitler.

So it doesn't matter if there was something behind the scenes, it should have been dealt with there.

Are your really saying that accounts who sockpuppet and vote-ring shouldn't be banned? (not saying this is what happened to the account being discussed)

Regular-banned maybe. Good potential for them to reregister and stop the bad behavior. Best method is blocking them from getting upvotes but if their comments are productive then they should not be hidden. Hellban is the worst option, even below ignoring the situation. Who cares if someone gets fake points, especially when points are hidden. (Fake votes on submissions are a potential issue but that's not what we're discussing)

Points on comments are hidden but have an effect - that post is raised and that commenter's posts are raised.

> That doesn't sound like an offense that should be hellbanned.

Well, IIRC, it is.

It's still a net negative and downright disheartening to see an obviously contributing account nuked... HN has the most opaque moderation system of any community I've ever been in..

And, ironically, the community functions better than most others. Correlation or causation? Who knows.

Correlation or causation?

How about neither? How about HN's community being good despite the sometimes idiotic moderation that takes them for granted, simply because a bunch of smart people found together... ?

No, you don't, IMO. If you think of what hellbanning is actually doing to a person on the other end - it's basically counter-trolling this guy for over a year, who thinks he is contributing, and he's really not being disruptive - it should be reserved for blatant abuses like intentional, repeated trolling. Not unpopular comments.

This is not much of a surprise at all. Corps have been doing this sort of lying right in our face strategy for years. Same as when T-Mobile started calling their HSPA network 4G and claiming they have the largest "4G" network in the nation. All complete BS but the masses are buying into it. It's just marketing after all.

I really think there needs to be a mainstream service perhaps run by the government to regulate all these commercials. After all, information is the most valuable commodity. And shoveling mis-information down people's throats might as well be poisoning people directly.

Well, I don't see where are they lying. There might have scaled the images differently for various reasons. Of course, they could have done it the proper way, but it can't be called outright 'lying'.

Advertisement always bends facts to one side or the other. Usually ads put extra emphasis on a positive thing, while omitting the negative.

Even more often ads don't use facts -- they just play on people's feelings.

In any case, the goal of advertising is to deceive the buyer, not not inform them. So I don't think anything should be expected from any company that needs to satisfy shareholders. I don't see how Apple's ads with a man asking stupid questions from kids, or Droid's ads with cool robots is morally better then what M$ is doing. But in this case, MS is just being stupid and ruins their image. They don't even pretend to be a company that tries to be morally good. If this becomes more popular with mainstream media, the ad will hurt MS much more then it benefits them, same as this piece of FUD that got to the frontpage of /r/linux:


In my opinion, all ads should be banned. It's a huge useless industry of liers. Corporations that are good with ads are not necessarily good at making products, but they get unfair advantage. It also distracts the main effort of from making a good product.

In chrome(Version 26.0.1410.64 m) the linked page just show up as blank.

Is this some sort of odd way of saying that Microsoft isn't lying in their advertising?

Refresh the page.

Server problems, sorry. I added page caching a little while ago and also moved the image to dropbox instead of my own server (I hope that is OK to do).

Big picture wise, I don't think Microsoft's advertising group is very good. In this case Hanlon's Razor probably applies. I don't know what target market would find the Surface Pro dancing commercials compelling. (My guess is: none.) The new Office ads focus on silly things like deleting large numbers of emails, which is underwhelming from a sales-worthy feature standpoint. And then there were the early Windows 8 ads with the little girl creating art in the new Paint app. Anyone who has purchased color ink would look at that wall of art and see huge dollar signs (at least I did).

I don't know if I would blame the ad group though. When the ads focus of the fluffy stuff, I take it as a sign that they struggled to find real features and benefits to push.

Reminds of the old download page for Internet Explorer 10, which had some nice quotes like: "Chrome users ... try IE10!"

Of course the ... hid something like "Yeah, if you're bored with Chrome, try IE10".

Another nugget from the same page was the qoute "Incredibly fast!" with the source set as " - Tweet".

Remember the camera incident with their new phone?

I remember it well. It was indeed a PR gaff, not Microsoft's ad (Nokia shot that ad), but not misleading - the camera delivers. I know this because I use that camera daily, and it really is as stable (if not more) than that ad suggested it was.

And no one has mentioned the second, more obvious "lie" that jumped right out.

It says the iPad doesn't have Office. Well, that's because Microsoft hasn't released a version of Office for iOS.

I don't know the right word for it, but that's not honest either.

Lets say you have two TVs. One TV says "We have Smart Screen 5.0 technology unlike that TV"

Would you say. "Thats a lie. The only reason that other TV doesn't have Smart Screen 5.0 technology is because you didn't offer to sell it to your competitor."

I don't think you should be under any obligation, legal or moral to be forced to licence your competitive advantage to your competitor.

> "We have Smart Screen 5.0 technology unlike that TV"

Slightly offtopic: What drives me crazy is when Company A will say "TV A has FizzBuzz(tm) Technology, TV B does not!" and Company B says "TV B has BuzzFizz(tm) Technology, TV A does not!" When FizzBuzz(tm) and BuzzFizz(tm) are really just the same shit with different trademarks.

It is probably "different" technology enough of the time, in that it does the same thing but in a different way with a different set of patents... but still.

Let me try again.

You make FOO. You also make XXX, which runs on FOO. XXX is very popular.

I make BAR. BAR is very popular, but can't run XXX.

BAR and FOO are competing products.

You say, "FOO is better than BAR because BAR doesn't have XXX."

You don't make a version of XXX that works on BAR.

You can't use the fact that you don't make Office for iOS as a short coming of iOS in advertising. That doesn't make your product better, it just means that you aren't making Office available.

Any clearer now?

I don't know, I think it's honest. In the eyes of many business users - myself included - the lack of Office is a legitimate shortcoming of the iPad (albeit one that I personally don't care much about).

It would be equally honest and fair for Apple to claim that Windows 8 doesn't have say, iMovie, or Flipboard. Again, some users may not care about those apps but at least it's a legitimate claim, unlike what's mentioned in the article.

iPad does not have MS Office, but it does have iWork version for iOS.

This is not only a problem that exists with Microsoft. Many PC makers push crap "widescreen" 16:9 displays with far less viewable area than a 4:3 screen, and obscenely little vertical res/height, and push it as a "feature."

I'm sick of Apple being the only one with decent displays. Why do the PC makers insist on using 16:9 displays when they HAVE the money and the power to afford 16:10, 4:3, or even 3:2, a la Chromebook Pixel?

If it's just to cut costs, then, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, Dell, Acer, -- fuck you.


I used to assume it was about cutting costs, but I'm not so sure anymore. Samsung apparently has a 3200x1800 (16:9) at 13.3" laptop coming out. That beats the chromebook pixel by a decent amount and certainly cannot be cheap... I think they must have some market research that suggests people actually do want 16:9 for whatever reason.

Why have we let the standard measurement of screen area be done with units of length?

Sometimes I wonder if the proliferation of widescreens is due to actual demand, or just being more marketable.

At a guess, when all screens had similar aspect ratio, a length measurement was more convenient: you can measure it without a calculator, and people can hold their fingers apart and think 'about this big'. We don't seem to have the same kind of intuition with area measurements.

I suspect widescreens have a bit of both. For watching videos or having two documents on screen, a widescreen does make more sense.

This really shows how they are playing catch-up to Apple.


In the mobile world everyone is playing catch up with Apple.

In the desktop world everyone is playing catch up with Microsoft.

In the search world everyone is playing catch up with Google.

In business you play catch up with the industry leader till you become one. Its part of being a business. Your Point?

The point that you missed is that you can either play catch up, or you can change the game. MS has the resources to change the game, but they lack the ability to do it.

Similar to the desktop market, I think the tablet market is too saturated to change the game. You can only play catchups now.

It also seems somewhat disingenuous to complain about the lack of office apps on iPad, when MSFT is clearly to blame for that lack...

Well I would love an official Youtube app for my Windows Phone but Google doesn't make one and has no intention of. Can I blame Google?

They removed the screen images and changed the copy so it says

>The ASUS VivoTab Smart is lighter than the iPad, has more ports, works with more printers, lets you see two apps at once, and runs Microsoft Office and other desktop programs.

Glad this 346 upvotes and 216 comments compared to the Xbox threads that were flagged off the frontpage. Great discussion Hacker News!

They should make more of the lack of multiple user accounts on the iPad. Most families I know share an iPad among the whole household. The lack of separate user accounts is a major pain point.

I still remember when Steve praised Microsoft's fast user switching feature during an Apple keynote before introducing the OS X version.

Maybe something like "App Profiles" that have access to only a subset of the installed applications would work.

Although it's just a legend, this article just made me think of the tuna "Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can!" marketing spin.

They just changed the images - now there are only numbers.

Looks like they changed the ad. Hardly seems malicious.

> I got the link from Daring Fireball.


Video ad is here. Is there a size difference in the video too?


Video looks accurate to me. iPad taller and less wide.

Apple's 4:3 screen for tablets are outdated and completely unusable. 16:9 is the way to go for any modern computing device. 4:3 is terrible for watching HD videos or browsing websites -- all of which are made with a 16:9 screen in mind.

That’s true if you think tablets should only be used in landscape orientation. I like using the iPad in portrait mode, but on 16:9 screens portrait mode is very awkward for everything but reading novels.

As for smartphones: the maximum width of those screens is dictated by the average size of a human’s palm. If you make the screens wider than 2.5", for most people it will be uncomfortable to operate the phone with one hand. Look at the Galaxy Note[1] (which is 3.3" wide), it’s practically impossible to use with one hand.

[1] http://www.engadget.com/gallery/samsung-galaxy-note-ii-hands...

For something you need to hold with both hands(which I assume how you use your iPad), I think the landscape orientation is more natural and comfortable. That's how we hold a book while reading lying down.

The vast majority of books are taller than they are high. It’s way more natural to read books on the iPad in portrait orientation, and that’s also how it’s shown in iPad commercials[1].

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhC40QCZML0

When you open a book (which is the only way you can read it!), it is definitely wider than it is tall. And hence I find it much more natural to hold a tablet in the landscape mode.

Most books have pages that are taller than they are high, the text blocks on those pages are definitely taller than they are wide. Paragraphs don’t run in one line from the verso to the recto[1]. A ‘page’ is one side of a sheet, you don’t read two pages at the same time.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recto_and_verso

>> Apple's 4:3 screen for tablets are outdated and completely unusable.

Is that a fact or an opinion?

>> 4:3 is terrible for watching HD videos or browsing websites -- all of which are made with a 16:9 screen in mind.

I also prefer watching videos in a widescreen format.. however, I prefer browsing the web in a portrait view. More often than not, the "side" of the web pages are used for navigation and ads. When it happens, I usually zoom on the content in the middle and read that in a portrait view.


I think your opinion is valid but not the way you express it. It sounds very aggressive and also comes out like if it was a hard fact. (Which is not, it's your opinion)

That may be true, but that's not the claim that MS made.

If their ad had shown a VivoTab and an iPad side-by-side playing a widescreen movie, I wouldn't have had a problem with it. (In fact I would've agreed with them that the VivoTab is probably the better device for viewing widescreen movies).

Instead their ad claims that the VivoTab is "larger", "lighter", etc all of which are objectively incorrect.

> In fact I would've agreed with them that the VivoTab is probably the better device for viewing widescreen movies

Of course the VivoTab can only play scaled down 1080p video. That probably does not matter to most people, but I really don't think Microsoft wants to go down that road.

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