The ad was a "teaser" to a much longer campaign, said Brad Brooks, corporate vice president for Windows consumer product marketing at Microsoft, in a video interview posted at Microsoft's site.
Microsoft wants to "engage customers in a conversation and dialogue in a humourous and intriguing way," said Brooks, who took over marketing for Windows and Vista in February after a major reorganization.
"We want to re-engage consumers emotionally around the brand, Windows," continued Brooks, "and actually create that emotional connection again -- a connection we've had, and that we want to have again."
Prior to the commercial's airing last night, advertising experts had cast doubt on Microsoft's choice of Seinfeld, suggesting that the 54-year-old comedian's brand of observational humor had become dated and wasn't hip enough to win back Mac defectors, especially youthful ones.
The commercial showed Seinfeld encountering Gates in a discount shoe store at a mall, chatting him up about nonsensical topics such as whether the Microsoft founder wears clothes in the shower, and then asking Gates if Microsoft could make "something that makes our computers moist and chewy like cake so we can just eat them while we're working." Gates wiggles his rear to answer in the affirmative.
The predictably negative immediate reaction by tech bloggers seemed to reaffirm that criticism. But ad experts were also not much more enthused.
Barbara Lippert, a critic for AdWeek magazine, called the ad "beyond bizarre."
"While Gates deserves "extra platinum Big Top Points for being able to make fun of himself (and his reputation for being cheap)... the spot shoots itself in Bill's size 10 Conquistadors several times."
Gates' wiggling his butt to answer Seinfeld's question was a motion that Lippert would "rather not see... that gesture puts a whole new spin on 'multi-tasking.'"
"If Crispin Porter + Bogusky (Microsoft's advertising agency) and Microsoft were going for the oddly creepy or the offputtingly nonsensical, then they've succeeded brilliantly," wrote Steve Hall, publisher of AdRants.com.
"This commercial was funny and interesting," wrote 'HFC' in a post entitled 'It's about image not a product.' "It wasn't directly trying to get you to buy something, it was letting everyone know the company isn't the uptight (yet amusing) business guy that Apple wants us all to believe."