POWER PLAY: IT spending is back, and Ms. Mathews, 37, is guiding Microsoft marketing to make sure it get its share. New marketing and advertising initiatives for MSN (a new version with more butterfly ads) and the Windows Media Player garnered attention. Microsoft's Xbox game platform continues to steal market share from Sony PlayStation, and should get a marketing boost when the new Xbox 2 debuts next year.
DOWNSIDE: Microsoft never followed through on its promise to spend more to stave off competition; ad spending for the first half of 2004 was $186 million, sliding 29.5% from the same period in `03, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Microsoft's big product of 2004, Windows XP Service Pack 2, was a big disappointment, both in terms of product performance and marketing communications that might explain its benefits.