Think of all the hoopla over Microsoft's launch of its new Windows 7 operating system as one big do-over.
After over-promising for its Windows Vista OS nearly three years ago, the new launch, touted in New York Thursday and the subject of an extension of its "I'm a PC" advertising campaign, is a way to make up for some of that lost ground.
"After the cold reception of Vista, this is Microsoft's chance to polish the Windows brand and put the bad taste of Vista behind it," Toan Tran, associate director of research at Morningstar Inc., tells Marketing Daily. "To a certain extent, Microsoft does have to do some repair work on the Windows brand."
That repair work began Wednesday with a short and simple (no celebrities, no Bill Gates, no Rolling Stones theme song) launch event for the new product in New York City, which was followed by bloggers and journalists all over the world. Much was made over consumer input into the new system, where users were given the chance to upload "wish list" ideas for a new system through Microsoft's corporate Web site.
The personalization of Windows continues with an extension of its "I'm a PC" advertising campaign. A launch spot for the new campaign features people talking directly to the camera. "You know what I want... You know what I wish... you know what I'm looking for..." says a group of ethnically diverse computer users. "Less waiting... Less clutter... Less click," says another group of users. To each of these groups, people standing in server rooms (presumably Microsoft employees) stress that they're listening. The commercial ends with jump cuts of all the users saying, "I'm a PC. And Windows 7 was totally my idea." The spot ends with the graphic "a billion ideas = 7."
Yet, it's questionable whether such marketing will have an effect on everyday consumers, Tran says. Apple, which has seen its share of the computer market grow over the past few years, has captured hearts and minds with its "Apple vs. PC" television commercials.
"I think Microsoft has a tough time with consumer marketing to compete against Apple," Tran says. "I don't know if marketing is going to be a big difference maker. The big thing is to get [Windows 7] into people's hands."
That strategy is also part of Microsoft's playbook. According to the company, "tens of thousands" of people will host launch parties and meet-up groups to showcase the new operating system to friends and family beginning Oct. 23. (Microsoft has reportedly also signed a deal with Fox to sponsor a commercial-free variety show by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane.
Microsoft representatives did not return calls seeking details.