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Microsoft’s New Ads Say PCs ‘Do More’ Than Macs

February 29, 2016, 3:33 PM UTC
Microsoft Corp. Launches Windows 10 In Japan
A visitor tries out Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 operating system on a tablet device during a launch event in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. The release of Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system -- an event that in years past sparked a surge of computer buying -- will do little to ease the four-year sales slump that's been dogging the PC industry. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Kiyoshi Ota — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Microsoft-Apple commercial wars may be back on.

While Apple (AAPL) has yet to take a swipe, Microsoft (MSFT) launched a series of ads on Sunday attacking Macs and arguing that Windows 10-based PCs “do more” than Apple’s computers.

The new series highlights the so-called “Bug Chicks” who promote the advantages of using a Windows 10 PC instead of a Mac. The first ad introduces viewers to the self-proclaimed Bug Chicks, who study insects for a living. The ad shows the women using a Windows 10 notebook and sketching on the screen.

“I don’t have a touchscreen on my Mac,” one of the Bug Chicks says. “I’m jealous of that.”

The ad ends with a simple tagline: “Windows 10 PCs do more. Just like you.”

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The ads call back to a time when Microsoft and Apple were at odds over which company had the better operating system and PC experience.

Apple won that commercial battle after airing the iconic “Get a Mac” campaign between 2006 and 2009. The ads, which were shown worldwide, showed two men—one dressed in casual clothes representing a Mac and another wearing a suit representing Windows. The ads were aimed at making the Mac seem cool and fun and Windows machines old-fashioned and obsessed with work. While they always took a comedic tone, they were effective in conveying Microsoft and Windows as the boring alternative to Macs.

Apple’s Mac sales soared during the ad campaign, though it’s impossible to know how much those commercials attributed to that success.

Feeling the pressure, Microsoft responded with the “I’m a PC” ad campaign in 2008. The ads attempted to poke fun at Apple’s campaign and enlisted the help of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to counter “Get a Mac” claims. The campaign was ultimately criticized for the ads reportedly being produced on a Mac. They also failed to catch the same fire as Apple’s commercials.

Since then, Microsoft and Apple have, in some ways, been growing apart. Microsoft has been undergoing a transition under CEO Satya Nadella to focus on the cloud and mobile devices, rather than solely its software, including Windows and Office. Apple, meanwhile, has grown its business on the back of its iPhones and has largely ignored Microsoft.

Apple’s defenders count the errors in Microsoft’s anti-iPad ads

Indeed, Microsoft and Apple recently found common ground over the iPhone maker’s battle with the FBI. Last week, Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said at a congressional hearing that his company “wholeheartedly” supports Apple’s refusal to work with the FBI to unlock the iPhone owned by San Bernardino attacker Syed Farook. The company will this week file an amicus brief with the court in support of Apple.

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Now armed with an operating system that it believes is notably better than its predecessor, Windows 8, Microsoft is opening a new front in its war with Apple. In addition to taking aim at the Mac’s lack of a touchscreen, the company also touted Windows 10’s personal virtual assistant, Cortana.

“Even on the new Macs, they don’t have that,” one of the Bug Chicks said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Microsoft’s attack ads.