When one thinks of tech companies that know how to market themselves, Microsoft probably isn’t on the list. Instead, it’s considered a stodgy old stalwart that is better known as a company many love to hate.

But an interesting thing has been happening lately: Microsoft is getting its groove back. At least when it comes to how it presents itself and its products to consumers.

There’s evidence that its Laptop Hunters ad campaign is working. And it has made Apple uncomfortable enough to get Apple to go on the defensive.

And Microsoft’s launch of its new ‘decision engine‘ Bing has gone much better than I think most of us would have expected. Although Bing may not be ‘revolutionary‘ or capable of dethroning Google overnight, by in large most of the press it has received has been positive.

According to one report, while Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz essentially dismissed Bing, Bing has already surpassed Yahoo in the search marketshare category, at least for the time being. While this should be taken with a grain of salt (we don’t know how many people who try Bing will actually continue to use it), with Microsoft ratcheting up a $100m ad campaign that pulls out all the stops, there’s no question Microsoft is committed to making a strong effort to build up the Bing brand.

Perhaps the most telling sign of Microsoft’s increased marketing savvy is the fact that it’s starting to trick us. Joseph Tartakoff over at PaidContent points out that five of Bing’s wonderful new features aren’t new at all. The take-away: Microsoft has finally delivered a new product in a package that people are at least intrigued by. Even if you chalk this all up to lowered expectations, it’s hard to argue that Microsoft hasn’t been doing a better job at marketing itself lately.

The big question, of course, is whether Microsoft can sustain all this. The fact that it even has a shot at doing so is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Photo credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr.