M'soft plans quiet launch for Windows Me software

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Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows Millennium Edition consumer software hits retail shelves on Sept. 14, but without the marketing and media frenzy that surrounded the company's Windows 95 release five years ago. Dubbed Windows Me, the software is the successor to Windows 98's second edition.

Microsoft will use print advertising in daily newspapers, and magazines, as well as online ads. It will not run TV. Retail and event marketing (including a 25-city mall tour featuring hands-on demonstration opportunities) are key components of the rollout. Microsoft declined to confirm spending for the effort. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, handles.

FOCUS ON CONSUMERS

The software giant spent more than $100 million to launch Windows 95, loading up on advertising across all media, plus event marketing and retail support. "Windows 95 was . . . a whole new user interface," said Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for Windows Me. Mr. Sullivan said Windows 95 represented a sea change in consumer operating systems. Windows Me is the first version of Windows "that has been solely focused on the consumer," he said, adding that Microsoft tried to take a different approach in developing the product and in conveying its benefits for users.

For example, Microsoft will focus on four key attributes in the new ads: the capability for consumers to create and edit home movies; download digital pictures and music; create a home network with multiple PCs; enjoy the fun and straightforward online experience; and run PC diagnostic health and maintenance programs. Ads will deliver the overarching theme that "Windows Me is bringing many of the exciting trends in technology to the average person," Mr. Sullivan said. "The goal with Windows Me is to make these trends accessible to the average person. . . . that [Windows Me] is the key to the digital world."

Creative also will focus in depth on each of the four product attributes. Windows Me sports a new logo and packaging with the copyline, "Better living in the digital world."

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