Is Microsoft Cool Again?

In a stunning victory, a Zeta Interactive report conducted for Brandweek concludes that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) is the most buzz-worthy brand of the year.

Really? That Microsoft? This year? Believe it.

The study factors in the volume of online posts, adjusting for the tone of the authors, to arrive at its Zeta Buzz ranking. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) took top honors in 2008, but Mr. Softy is on top now.

Company

Post Volume

Tone (+/-)

Microsoft

375,661

83/17

Google

361,344

82/18

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  )

282,668

88/12

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  )

241,879

75/25

Target (NYSE: TGT  )

208,848

78/22

Source: Adweek.

If you're angling for a shock, check out the final column that breaks down the positive and negative posts. According to the report, the chances that a Microsoft online post will be positive are better than if the company was Google or Apple.

How can Microsoft's positive percentage of posts be 83% and Apple's a mere 75%?

Do we need a recount? Are Apple posts being lumped into the backlash of iffy AT&T (NYSE: T  ) iPhone coverage? Is Microsoft using its massive cash hoard to buy votes?

Not so fast. Microsoft has been aggressive in winning back its good name this year. Between the "laptop hunter" ads showing the value of Windows-powered systems over MacBooks to the aggressive Bing "decision engine" spots, Microsoft has been rolling on the marketing front.

Oh, and let's not forget the Vista-cleansing arrival of Windows 7 two months ago.

If the positive buzz sticks, maybe even the seemingly ridiculous chain of Microsoft retail stores may make sense in the end.

Congratulations, Microsoft -- but I'm still wondering about that recount.

Do you believe Microsoft is the brand with the most buzz in 2009? Let us know in the comment box below.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options recommended a diagonal call strategy on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether it's cool to wear a Microsoft sweatshirt again. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 12:58 PM, mavenj wrote:

    Cool again? They would have had to been cool in the first place.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 1:43 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    What absolute nonsense. First, who is Zeta and why does what they say matter. Second, MSFT is in no way ahead of the other companies on this list in consumer demand or positive image. Give us a break!

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 1:53 PM, DefunctAcct wrote:

    This is funny and make for a light-hearted reading.

    When is a computer "cool" or not "cool"? It is a dumb box on my desk that serves my needs. It has to start reliably, lets me get to my files and do my work with little to no fuss. Whoever can do that wins my business. I do not even care about fancy hardware specifications or pretty screen. None of that matter if the box is unreliable or the OS is inefficient or the UI has poor human-interface designs.

    One thing against MSFT is how it failed to respond to customer needs (VISTA) until it was forced to do so by the likes of Apple and Google. Windows 7 will likely never happened if there were no healthy competition from a viable and competent competitors like Apple and later Google.

    As for MSFT stores, it is a pure copy-cat operation down to the hollering employees trying to be "cool". I fail to understand the need for such fake enthusiasm. The energy can be better spent at teaching customers and addressing customer needs.

    None of these companies (MSFT, AAPL, GOOG) should worry about being "cool". They need to keep turning out solutions to real world problems that consumers can use. Whoever can do that well is the one that will sell well.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 2:43 PM, Fool wrote:

    My Microsoft stock has been doing very well this year. This is why.

    Windows 7 has been great. Windows Media Center is a really nice package, works well as my media hub (Netflix tie-in is cool too). Windows Media Player mp3 encoding when importing a CD is very flexible and easy to use, unlike iTunes with its standard Apple proprietary garbage. All you haters out there need to recognize that MS is back on top.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:18 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    silivalley wrote:

    "As for MSFT stores, it is a pure copy-cat operation down to the hollering employees trying to be "cool". I fail to understand the need for such fake enthusiasm. The energy can be better spent at teaching customers and addressing customer needs"

    Microsoft lost sight of their strengths and let Apple pull them onto foreign turf. They left the confines of Redmond to play ball on Apple's home court. If Microsoft stuck to their strengths, they never would have had to respond to the "I'm A Mac" ads.

    This, by the way, is one of the main reasons I bought and held APPL. They forced their competitors onto their court...which means APPL will always be leading, and others will always be trying to catch up.

    MSFT can rebound, easily, though. And their doing the right things right now by speaking to Windows 7 strengths instead of trying to go toe-to-toe with Apple in their advertisements.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 3:18 AM, jaketen2001 wrote:

    MSFT has never been cool as the first post posits. Virtually every single one of its products, including its flagship product, were reverse engineered pieces of junk. They have no elegant products that work well, outside of the X-box maybe.

    Like me (?) most people that bought their products did so under duress, buying their OS because it was preinstalled. And like GS, they have a bunch of good lawyers threatening to sue any PC maker that doesn't license its products. Can I have my computer? Thank you Herr Putin! And or they bought them because they had one at work, and they wanted the same product at home for simplicity, interoperability.

    Their main product is dying. Apple's OS always has been far superior in all terms. There is the greater interoperability now that Apple uses Intel. Their business use has declined as better products (read: original products, not reverse engineered ones) overtake MSFT.

    The death knell for MSFT will be in 5-10 years. There will be enough competing products that MSFT can not force PC makers to install Windows by threatening to sue them. Customers will have to choose. When that tipping point comes, adios. Will happen first probably in Europe, and then 2-5 years in the US.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 11:58 AM, miteycasey wrote:

    When you are at the bottom, up is the only way to go.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 11:59 AM, miteycasey wrote:

    When you are at the bottom, up is the only way to go.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2009, at 4:22 AM, gslusher wrote:

    @ Fool: "My Microsoft stock has been doing very well this year. This is why."

    Let's see. Look at YTD numbers:

    MSFT: 20.33 to 30.82, +51.6%

    Good, but:

    AAPL: 90.75 to 200.36, +121%

    More than twice as "good." You should have sold your MSFT stock last January and bought AAPL, instead. you'd have made 134% MORE than you made with MSFT.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2009, at 12:20 PM, frankwick wrote:

    In 2009 Apple became the Microsoft of the 1990s. They had great growth but suffered from growing pains. Their release cycles got longer, their code got buggier, there were more security holes discovered, and in some minds they lost their underdog badge. On top of that, Apple is as proprietary (if not moreso) than MS was in the 90s. People realized that despite their flashy ads Apple was still a computer company ran by people who wanted to make money.

    There is still somewhat of double standard. Apple zealots are willing to give Apple a pass on certain items while Microsoft rarely gets the same favor. Take 2009's Snow Leopard. This should have been a free update but Apple fans happily paid for it and it turned out to be one of the most botched releases of an OS in a long time. Excuses were accepted.

    Microsoft has a very good offering. Windows 7 is the best desktop operating system I have ever used. Any vendor can create software or hardware for the platform. Office is the defacto business suite. Live Essentials is a very high quality free set of tools. Bing is a good tool. The Zune HD may be the best product you will never use. Even their old mobile platfrom got a good refresh in 2009 with WinMo 6.5.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2009, at 12:28 PM, frankwick wrote:

    I admit, I work in the corporate world. Here, the Microsoft strategy is comprehensive and complete. We looked at Apple last year and found that in order to have similar functionaity would cost SIGNIFICANTLY more. not only are the computers more expensive but we would be required to purchase more integration tools, reporting packages, new software on the desktop, etc... At that point, the only thing that would have been changed would be the desktop. We would still be a Microsoft/UNIX shop in the back office. BTW, we broke3 of the 8 Apple computers during a one month eval. They did not hold up at all.

    We are now in our Windows 7 project. We will be rolling out 5000 desktops over the next three years when old machines go off lease. In our tests the speed, security, and usability have been extraordinary. Compatability with our legacy apps has been the biggest problem.

    Personally, the best features of windows (the "cool" features to keep it in line with the article) are Media Center with its great DVR and the multi-touch tabets. XP/Vista had single touch tablets, but 7 had multi. Think of Microsoft Surface in laptop form.

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