Internet Explorer ad tugs at heartstrings of Gen-Y users

Whether you love or hate Internet Explorer, you've got to admit that some of its ads are pretty good.

Microsoft's latest IE ad, dubbed “Child of the 90s,” tries to appeal to people who remember the web browser at its worst.

The video shows snapshots of passing 1990s fads, such as Slap Wraps and Pogs. Meanwhile, a narrator describes how things were different back then. (My favorite line: “Lunch was a puzzle, not a picture,” spoken while stacks of Lunchables arrange themselves for an Instagram-style photo.) Take a look:

Oddly enough, the video doesn't actually show Internet Explorer in action. The narrator merely says “You grew up, so did we,” as the IE logo appears, then lands as an icon on the Windows 8 Start screen.

Love to hate IE

It's yet another ad in which Microsoft embraces Internet Explorer's not-so-proud past. Previous videos have included a forum troll who blasts the browser before slowly warming to it, and a man seeking therapy for his habit of uninstalling IE from people's computers. Microsoft compiles these videos and other ad material on browseryoulovedtohate.com.

It's unclear what kind of impact the ads—along with that one IE commercial that's always on TV—are making, but analytics firm Netmarksetshare claims that Internet Explorer market share is on the rise lately.

According to the firm, Microsoft's browser had 54.77 of the desktop browser market in December 2012, compared to 51.87 percent a year earlier. However, another group, Statcounter, claims that IE is on the decline and was passed by Google Chrome in mid-2012. The two firms use different methods for their measurements, but there's no clear answer on which method is superior.

Here's something to think about, though: For how long will Microsoft continue this line of self-deprecation? The ads are cute, which is why I keep writing about them, but eventually Microsoft might want to tell the world why Internet Explorer is better than the competition. Because as any child of the 90s knows, “better than IE used to be” isn't saying much.

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