Microsoft seem to have always struggled with how to market themselves effectively in mainstream media, especially when their reluctant poster boy looks like the type of kid who would have sat on his own in the canteen at school. Their attempts to date have always seemed stilted, somehow out of touch with the attitudes of the market, or just plain cringeworthy (a fact which apple recognised only too well and we’re able to capitalize on in their immensely sucessful “Get a Mac” campaign)

Their latest kinect advert changes all that. It’s simple, engaging, even moving and above all else its refreshing to see their efforts not go to waste. It also represents a bold risk from a strategy point of view as it attempts to shift the emphasis from fun and gaming to some of the more “real-world” potential applications of the device.

Following the alleged ‘hacking’ of their kinect device by linux developers, reactions from the microsoft camp have been promising. Initially microsoft seemed to voice its disapproval, stating that it “does not condone the modification of its products” and that it had “built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering”. This reaction, however, was apparently caused by a misunderstanding within Microsoft, and the company later clarified its position, claiming that while it does not condone hacking of either the physical device or the console, the USB connection was left open by design.

The vast range of applications which have since been developed to make use of the device should inspire microsoft continue to adopt a more open source marketing approach, rather than continuoulsy fighting the tide with lawsuits and cheesy multicultural “lets all have a fun time in our primary coloured t-shirts” ad campaigns. Dare i say it… It seems that maybe microsoft finally gets it, and not only do they get it but they have been brave enough to embrace it.

Oh, and +1 for incorporating the classical version of “where is my mind” by the pixies.