Microsoft has long been prickly about Apple's inspired "Get a Mac" ad campaign; Chairman Bill Gates once accused Apple of "lying" with the TV spots. Now the tables have turned, and Microsoft is unabashedly gleeful to get under Apple's skin.

The Redmond, Washington software company has been running an as series called "Laptop Hunters" designed to make the point that Macs are expensive. The ads made Apple finally snap, says Microsoft COO Kevin Turner (pictured):

Two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey — this is a true story — saying, "Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices." They took like $100 off or something.

It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business. I did cartwheels down the hallway.

The incident sounds odd, if only because Microsoft's campaign dovetails perfectly with Apple's marketing pitch: Macs are premium computers for discerning buyers. Snobby, sure, but also fully compatible with Microsoft claiming Windows computers are cheap.

Turner says the phone call encouraged Microsoft to intensify its ad campaign; he'd be wise to double check its effectiveness before allowing a competitor to so heavily influence his ad spend.

There's no reason to think Apple's Reality Distortion Field works only on the company's fans, after all.

(Pic: Erwyn van der Meer)