Microsoft cranks up student indoctrination program


blog Oh dear. Chalk this one up to a bit of Microsoft mid-October marketing madness.

The big M has started advertising for full-time students at Australian universities to spruik its products for it on campuses all around Australia. It doesn’t look like the students will get paid for telling their friends about how great Microsoft is, but they’ll get a free Windows 7 PC, Xbox 360 and Samsung Windows 7 phone, among other goodies.

The nauseating ads Microsoft has posted on Seek, supported by “ideation and project management agency” the Spaceship, calls for “top minds from around Australia” to help their fellow students “understand how relevant Microsoft software and devices can be to them”. The recruited students will support “university marketing activities” such as orientation and open days “in high traffic areas across campus”. And they’ll file weekly reports on their activities.

Now, to be honest, at Delimiter we are actually quite big fans of Microsoft. The company’s current batch of enterprise products are becoming extremely dominant (and rightly so, given their quality), Windows Phone 7 Mango is great, we run our working day on Windows 7 and Office, and our nights are currently dominated by Gears of War 3 on our Xbox 360. When we speak to chief information officers these days, its clear that Microsoft is no longer the big bad company it used to be in the past. It’s a more relaxed, more helpful and better company these days, and focused strongly on customers.

However … the idea that when we were at uni, our friends would be constantly spruiking Microsoft products to us as “visionaries” and “ambassadors” for Microsoft is puke-inducing. If you think we’re exaggerating, click here and read the ad for yourself. Yuck.

We can only hope that a bunch of guerrilla Linux fans and grumpy computer science coders spoil the fun for the “Microsoft Windows U Crew” by blanketing the entire thing in penguin merchandise. Linus would be proud.


  1. It seems like a relatively interesting (and ambitious) gig to get, if you want to get into Marketing/PR, tho’ a little too calculating on MS’s behalf.

  2. Apple has been doing this for years. When I was a uni student, I was paid by Apple to be a “Campus Ambassador” at Swinburne. My job was to try set up appointments with staff and let them know there’s a discount for them on all Apple products – then give them some Apple branded merchandise in return for their time. I also acted liked a raving lunatic on orientation day, telling passers by how cool the iPod nano is.

    In hindsight, it was pretty fucking terrible. I was 18, loved Apple and needed money, so this sounded cool :(

    • lol — the shocking truth exposed!

      In all honesty if a Linux organisation had come to campus and paid me to do something similar I probably would have done it. But with hindsight it seems a little … wrong.

      • The vast majority of users will often stick with what they know. If a company can get in early enough, then they will often have a customer for life.

        Might sound creepy, but it makes a lot of sense, business wise.

        • Correct. This is the rationale behind the generous student pricing for MS products. Once you become a regular user of product X it becomes difficult to switch to product Y unless there is a massive incentive to do so. And when it comes to operating systems and office suites, there really isn’t much separating the big players so it makes a lot of sense to get in early.

          That said, the tactics being used here are going a bit far. A student “ambassador” trying to push corporate products down my throat would have been a big turn off in my uni days.

    • agreed. funny how when microsoft do it, it’s a drama, but when apple do it, it’s marketing genius… :)

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