I was walking through Dulles Airport on my way home from a conference I attended in Boston today. As I was walking I noticed a number of the flight departure/arrival display monitors were offline. Instead of displaying the flight lists, they had the familiar Windows message indicating that the application trying to be accessed was not available. Later as I was walking towards the parking garage I noticed that a number of the self-service pay stations were offline as well. They had a familiar Windows message stating that the application had encountered an error.
Airports are not the only places where Windows-based application errors are visible on public kiosks and displays. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a PC-based application not working properly. Check out this picture from Picadilly Circus in London.
It occurred to me that Microsoft could use the instability of their platform as a revenue generator. Instead of displaying messages about memory errors or web site page not available, why don’t they display advertisements? These ads would be very appealing to corporate buyers as hey would be displayed prominently in high-traffic, public locations. Some brands may not want their ads associated with offline applications. However, I think there are plenty of companies who would not be opposed to the idea. Microsoft could start by selling these ads to spammers. So instead of seeing flight departures at an airport you could get information about Erectile Dysfunction sponsored by Viagra.
The advertising revenues gained from this strategy could be used to complement MSN ads. And Steve Ballmer could forget about acquiring Yahoo! or developing a joint advertising venture.