There was a time, not that long ago, when Microsoft mastered so many different things it tried, not the least of which was the executive spoof video.
But a new video, created for a recent sales conference in Denver, shows how far the mighty have fallen. It's a remarkably unfunny production, featuring four of the company's top executives bantering on their carpool to work.
(By the afternoon, the video had been removed from Vimeo. It had been posted by the user, Buttercuts Editorial. Casey Chinn, who founded Buttercuts according to its Vimeo page, said in a telephone call that he knew nothing about the removal of the video, before abruptly hanging up.)
In the new video, Office division president Kurt DelBene drives his colleagues, boring them to sleep with technical details about his 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S. At another point, Windows Phone president Andrew Lees brushes his teeth and shaves at the same time.
In the back seat, Online Services president Qi Lu and senior vice president of consumer channels and central marketing Chris Capossela bicker about encroaching on each other's space, leading to one of the few smile-worthy moments, when the straight-laced Capossela chimes: "This is my dancing space," motioning with his hands to his side of the car. "This is your dancing space," pointing to other half of the back seat.
But it's a far cry from the virtual highlight reel of spoofs Microsoft has created over the years, even a far cry from videos with Microsoft leaders in cars. One of the best executive spoofs featured Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer mocking then-rival Sun Microsystems in a send-up of Volkswagen commercials featuring the song "Da Da Da" from the German group Trio. In that commercial, Gates and Ballmer pick up a Sun workstation left on the side of the road. After a few minutes, they realize there's a stench emitting from the Sun machine. So they return it to the side of the road.
That said, it isn't as though humor has completely left Redmond, Wash. The video arm of Microsoft's developer relations group just released a prank video in which it tricked employees into thinking they were participating in a new marketing campaign for the company called "The Faces of Microsoft." In reality, they company hired an actor to portray a "genius" European photographer, prompting them to "roar as tiger does" and to put on an elf costume and dance.
So maybe there's still hope.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. PT to note that the video has been removed.