Whatever you think of their products, there's one segment where Microsoft has unquestionably led: advertising. Ane - the bizarre, wonderful anime that Microsoft has put together for Internet Explorer -falls squarely in that category.
Meet Inori Aizawa, the "anime personification" of Internet Explorer. Inori has her own Facebook page, which appeared at the end of October, during the AFA13 conference in Singapore. A screencap of the anime is credited to "Zi Rong and Team CACANi."
"When I was younger, I used to be a clumsy, slow, and awkward girl," "Aizawa" says. "However, just like the story of ugly duckling, people told me that I have really matured and changed over the years. I feel confident in my abilities now, and I'm eager to show you what I can do."
The Verge describes Microsoft's anime fetish over the past few years, which has been mostly confined to its Asian customers.
But the yen for anime transcends Japan, which Microsoft appears to have realized. Microsoft's run of productive ads probably kicked off earlier this year, with its revamped Surface ads, along with its superlative Windows Phone spots.
"The anime character was created by Microsoft Singapore for the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2013," Microsoft said in an emailed statement. "This is a local marketing program for anime and Japanese popular culture lovers at AFA 2013 and across Asia and does not represent an official mascot for Internet Explorer."
Naturally, the Facebook page hides a few goodies, such as this SkyDrive folder, which contains a downloadable desktop background for true Inori fans.
But the real gem is the embedded YouTube anime, where a young Aizawa takes on what appear to be giant chrome robots. You will probably be able to find homages to several different anime, not the least of which is the Sailor Moon series. (Anime fans, please forgive our ignorance.)
On Thursday, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7, which offers a 9-percent performance improvement versus IE10, which Microsoft claims is about 30 percent faster than competing browsers. IE11 ships with the new Chakra just-in-time Java compiler, designed to improve the performance of real-world websites, plus support for different components of the ECMAScript6 standard. And then there's the new real-time collaboration that Microsoft added to its Office Web Apps.
But forget all that. The anime is the best thing that Microsoft released today. Check it out.