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Microsoft Corp. is beginning a long-term brand campaign for Windows as an umbrella for various flavors of its operating system software.

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, 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

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