What’s lovely about that headline is that it is both factual, and funny. Anyway.

Here’s the deal: with its quirky new advertising campaign for Internet Explorer, Microsoft appears to be making real strides in sharpening the market’s perception of its long maligned browser. The good folks at PC World have the data:

From March 5-14, BrandIndex measured a 10-point jump in the quality perception rating of IE among U.S. adults, and a nine-point increase in the group that identified themselves as early technology adopters. By March 16, IE’s quality rating was 50 among U.S. adults, 44 among early adopters.

Ten points, as any pollster will tell you, is a big damn deal. Now, before we get into how Microsoft managed to pull this off, here’s why this matters: with Windows 8 coming out soon, Microsoft has a very real chance to regain browser market share. Provided that it can convince people to keep the browser that Windows 8 ships with, it can greatly expand its market penetration. And of course, if people have a favorable view of Internet Explorer, they are less likely to switch.

Now, to the fun stuff. How the heck did Microsoft pull this off? Oddly enough, by mocking its own product. Its product’s past, to be specific. We’ve already shown you one of the ads from the campaign, but because it’s hilarious, here you go:

There’s a bit more to this story. Microsoft has put up a website, the Browser That You Loved To Hate, which is full of funny images such as the following:

tumblr m0xo9ovczQ1rrdop8o1 1280 520x485 Microsoft mocks Internet Explorer, boosting its public image

The TV spots, the YouTube clips, the funky Tumblr images are all adding up to real change for Internet Explorer. Who would have thought. Oh, if you want our take on IE9, head here. We spent a whole week using the thing.