I've been pulling for Apple all year, and the MacWorld Expo last month in San Francisco really gave me hope that the company would pull through, perhaps even emerging stronger than ever. Due to the increasing presence of Apple in the press lately, I have covered numerous Apple-related news stories here in recent months as well. Apple's latest ads proclaim that "they're back."

And that's the problem. Not that they're back, that their ad agency is back.

Apple's ads are so full of misinformation, they have suddenly cast a dark cloud over the company I found myself caring about lately. While the company as a whole seems to have found a sense of humility and the decisiveness to do the smart thing, their new ads do not. In fact, these new ads look as if they were written two years ago and never released. Until now.

For example, Apple claims that there are "50 million" Macintosh users, despite the fact that the company has sold some 26 million Macintoshes since 1984. I won't get into the percentage of those Macs that are still in use, but I think we all agree it's not 100%. The 50 million figure comes from Apple's (hopeful?) conjecture that two people use each Mac. That's deceptive. There is no reason to believe that more people use each Mac than each PC. Most Mac buyers today have bought more than one Mac each: there are probably fewer than 15 million actual Mac "customers" in the world, but then my figure is no more valid than theirs, really.

Apple is even running ads claiming that most PCs sold today do not come with the multimedia features needed to run modern graphics and sound programs. Good Lord, nothing could be further from the truth: you can't even find a PC today that doesn't include a nice video card, a CD-ROM, and a decent sound card. Why are we even debating this? It isn't 1989 anymore.

Someone tell Apple, please.

It's insulting for a company that hasn't had a major OS upgrade in years to spit in the face of a technology that surpassed it two years ago and keeps moving forward: Windows. All one has to do is look at the feature- set for Memphis, Internet Explorer 4.0, and Netscape Communicator 4.0 (where the Windows version surpasses the Mac version) to realize that Windows isn't looking back. Apple isn't the "research and development department for Microsoft" anymore: that day ended long ago.

Just when the PC World was starting to like--and respect--Apple Computer and pull for their recovery, they pull the rug out from underneath us. For what's it's worth, the Mac still provides some incentives for users over comparable Windows machines.

Maybe they should mention that instead