POWER PLAY: Earlier this year, Mich Mathews, 38, was promoted to her current post from VP-marketing as Microsoft dives into a marketing department overhaul to a strategically integrated role hand-in-hand with product development. Microsoft has set an aggressive agenda to build collaboration between marketing and engineering. A nontraditional media strategy to allow hundreds of Microsoft employees to set up blogs has helped soften its monolithic image without dropping a dime in media fees. The April launch of the estimated $200 million "Start something" campaign for Windows XP, via McCann Erickson, went beyond feature benefits to connect with consumers around their passions. Expect an even bigger marketing blowout for the operating system dubbed Vista.
DOWNSIDE: It's common for tech companies to understand the need to transform from engineering driven to marketing driven. However, the execution of it is much more difficult. Executives admit it could take as long as 10 years to implement the marketing department overhaul. And while blogs have helped soften Microsoft's image to developers who read them, the average consumer still sees a faceless giant.