Microsoft ads tout Windows 2000 as open for business

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Microsoft Corp. has begun to unveil elements of its estimated $200 million multimedia campaign for Windows 2000.

While teaser ads are already out, an enormous media blitz is set to break Feb. 17. The new effort, created by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco and New York, will be the first major test of Microsoft's recently launched campaign, called "The Business Internet" (AA, Dec. 13).

WINDOWS FOR BUSINESS

As such, it will evangelize how the next-generation of Windows helps customers of all sizes run their businesses efficiently on the Web.

"It takes the concept of all the exciting things you can do on the Internet today and makes it easy for businesses to do them," said Christine McCaffrey Trostle, director of marketing, Windows Division. "Overall, the thing we help customers understand with this campaign is that Windows 2000 is the next generation of computing, and it's built from the ground up to help them Internet-enable their businesses."

Teasers that will run until launch day include ads on bus sides and shelters, outdoor boards and inside subway cars in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Those ads feature spare messages, such as "Windows 2000. The Business Internet starts here," against a background of bright primary colors.

On Feb. 17, Microsoft will integrate Windows 2000 messages into "The Business Internet" TV creative already running, hitting key points such as the system's reliability vis-a-vis the Internet; lower service costs; and compatibility with mobile devices.

"Windows 2000 is a really great first substantiation of the reinvented Microsoft built with customer involvement," Ms. McCaffrey Trostle said.

BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS

At launch, the "Voice of the Customer" print component of the campaign will feature a variety of business professionals, ranging from administrative assistants to CEOs. The ads show them using the product and emphasizing key attributes. Ad buys include business publications, newsweeklies, newspapers and trade magazines. Further, Microsoft takes real-life professionals' stories of how Windows 2000 changed the way their company runs and puts them on the Web. These mini-movies, shot in documentary style, feature several high-profile professionals talking about the product; they can be accessed through a special Windows 2000 URL.

Described as "straightforward" in tone, the "Voice of the Customer" print and Web stories will run for several months; the tagline "Where do you want to go today?" remains in place. Radio buys aren't part of the mix, but a slew of Web ads are expected. DDB Digital, New York, worked on Windows NT online creative and also will field online assignments for Windows 2000.

But by no means is Windows 2000 the only activity on Microsoft`s agenda. In August, shortly after the start of the company's fiscal year, it will roll out a successor to Windows 98 second edition, a consumer operating system code-named "Millennium." The upgrade is expected to enable cutting-edge digital entertainment activities and home networking. Microsoft's last consumer marketing extravaganza was for Windows 95 in August 1995.

As e-commerce plays become increasingly pervasive, Microsoft hopes to capitalize from businesses upgrading to Windows 2000 and new PCs, now that Y2K fears have subsided. But some question whether Windows 2000 will go far enough: "They'll certainly build in some of the e-commerce functionality, but still at a fairly low level," said Leah Knight, e-commerce analyst with Gartner Group, a technology research company. "They'll depend on value-added resellers and Internet service providers for transaction capability, security of payment and application-level functionality."

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