Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Apple’s complaints that Microsoft’s Laptop Hunter TV ads are unfair and inaccurate is a major victory for Microsoft, which previously couldn’t get a marketing hit against the consumer favorite Mac.

Although its still a distant third in market share, Bing has captured the attention of the user community and is now the alternative to Google for search.

And Microsoft will push its cash-cow productivity suite — Office 2010 — into the cloud to compete against Google Apps and Zoho.

These are some of the observations that TechRepublic’s Jason Hiner ticks off in his Tech Sanity Check blog: “Has Microsoft switched from defense back to offense?”

While MIcrosoft is getting more aggressive, I don’t necessarily agree with Hiner that Microsoft has been on the defense for the last decade. Rather, I would say Microsoft has had an inept offense that has failed to put real points on the board.

At a product marketing managers conference last fall, I met a former Microsoft marketing executive who worked on the Windows 95 and 98 launch. He recounted the glory days of the Mircrosoft marketing machine, when the boys (and girls) in Redmond were creative in their go-to-market strategies and how they built alliances to catch up and overcome the competition.

During this halcion period, Microsoft won with inferor products that were late to the game. With the help of its channel and alliance partners, Microsoft demolish the competition to become the market leader. The people that made Windows, Internet Explorer and Office dominant, this former Microsofter said, moved on to other roles or companies, leaving MIcrosoft devoid of that creative pool.

There may be something to that statement. WIndows XP, by all accounts, was a far superior and stable platform than Windows 95, 98, NT or 2000. While the operating system has done well in the seven years since its release, it never took on the excitment and momentum of the Windows 95 launch.

Microsoft’s weapon of choice was undercutting pricing, but it lost that battle to Apple’s superior quality and Google’s free.

After several false starts at offense over the past decade, Microsoft appears to be on the rebound with a playbook that appears capable of capturing and retaining the attention of the target audience.

The new momentum was evident at last week’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, where thousands of resellers, solution providers and ISVs relished Microsoft’s newfound energy for taking on the competition.

Perhaps the question isn’t whether Microsoft is finally on the offense, but rather if it’s found an offense that will work.