The multimillion-dollar campaign from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., started this month with ads in The Wall Street Journal and moves into other business and computer publications, focusing on management and computer department executives.
"I think as a leader in the category you've got to take a close look at how you communicate with your customers," said Rob Schoe-ben, group manager-product communications for personal and business systems. "We've done that and concluded we had to talk in a different way."
Until now, Microsoft has fielded ad campaigns for Windows 95 and Windows NT as well as done limited marketing for Windows CE.
WINDOWS 95 IS STANDARD
Windows 95, launched with a raucous promotion as the center of Microsoft's brand building in 1995, is now the standard PC software. Windows NT, with sales soaring after a slow start early this decade, is a more powerful version.
Windows CE, a simpler version launched in November, is used on handheld PCs. Windows CE is expected to be installed on future devices running the Internet service of WebTV Networks.
Microsoft has a deal to buy WebTV, and will continue the separate product marketing efforts.
The first umbrella ad talks about the empowerment of a single PC user; the second, debuting in July, shows a group of employees who have different computing needs. A third is in the works.
"The attributes of what Windows does through a microprocessor-based machine are very consistent," Mr. Schoeben said. "It's a family of operating systems with a consistent mission to make PCs easier to use."
Mr. Schoeben said Microsoft wants to address some of the hot buttons of business computing: centralized control vs. leaving power with the PC user, cost of ownership vs. value and functionality of computers.
"Our point of view is that the degree of centralization is a company's decision, not a vendor's decision," Mr. Schoeben said. "It's an equation, and it's a complex one. We're not trying to say it's one-size-fits-all . . . It's our job to make sure they have the freedom of choice" through Windows.