Microsoft TV ads to target old PCs with anti-'good enough' angle

Campaign to push consumers off Windows XP, blunt surges by smartphones and tablets, says analyst

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Microsoft's smartphone business remains weak, and it won't release a tablet-specific version of Windows until 2012, leaving it without major plays in both categories.

Cherry sees other problems with Microsoft's ad new campaign.

"There's a real disconnect for consumers who see these ads and then wander into a Staples or a Best Buy," argued Cherry. "Microsoft may run a commercial and the consumer gets all excited, but there's no guarantee that those machines will be available at retail. It's hard for Microsoft to get an ad campaign to get past that barrier."

Cherry contrasted Microsoft's problem with Apple's advantage. "Whenever Apple advertises, it's tied to its retail stores," Cherry said, referring to Apple's extensive chain of brick-and-mortar outlets, where all its products are on display.

Just weeks ago, said Cherry, he shopped for a new Windows notebook, and although he bought one, "I'm still not sure if it's the best one for me."

The new ad campaign that stresses upgrading from "good enough" to a new machine with Windows 7 is only the latest in a series of moves by the company to distance itself from Windows XP, the 10-year-old operating system that still accounts for a majority of all copies of Windows in use.

When Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) in mid-March, a company executive defended the decision not to release the browser for Windows XP by saying that the aged OS was the "lowest common denominator."

Microsoft also pressed IT professionals to ditch XP with a Webcast last month titled "Is XP Good Enough? Really?" and with the release of a Windows 7 gadget that counts down to the expiration of all Windows XP support in April 2014.

The new television ads will run on ABC's Dancing with the Stars; on CBS' How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, Hawaii Five-0 and Late Show with David Letterman; and on NBC's Chuck and The Event.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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