California, US (BBN)-Microsoft has an unfamiliar but critical marketing task on its hands starting next week: Convincing hundreds of millions of people to download free software.
Beginning July 20, the public will be bombarded with ads for Windows 10 at retailers, on TV and online as the company cranks up a marketing blitz touting the next version of its operating system, which is due to launch July 29. Millions of Windows fans will have a chance to attend launch parties in hotspots around the world, reports the Herald Sun.
Microsoft always pulls out all the stops to promote new versions of Windows, but this time its strategy and goals are different.
For the first time, the software giant is giving away its flagship operating system free of charge to many PC owners.
The company hopes the free approach will strengthen Windows as a gateway to sell other Microsoft products and services.
It has set a goal of 1 billion Windows devices in use by the end of June 2018.
That means Microsoft is trying not only to convince people to buy new PCs that run its updated software – its top priority in Windows releases for more than 20 years – but also to upgrade hundreds of millions of PCs and tablets that may be up to six years old.
“We’ve made it free. That alone is going to be the big thing . . . that gets people excited,” said Yusuf Mehdi, who runs marketing for the Microsoft division that includes Windows.
While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has worked to make Windows less the cart that drives the company’s horse, the flagship software remains essential to Microsoft’s future.
For the strategy to pay off, he needs to get as many people as possible to use Windows 10, rather than a scattering of old and new versions as the computing landscape stands.
Between now and the launch, Mehdi said, the company aims to highlight new Windows 10 features such as a Web browser called Edge that lets users annotate websites, and security features that let people use their fingerprints or portrait photos as passwords to log onto their machines.
Microsoft also is planning events around the launch date at high-profile locations, including the harbor in Sydney, for people who offered feedback on trial versions of Windows 10. And the company is using its own retail stores as well as those of partners to show off Windows 10 and its benefits, and to host workshops to guide new users.
Mehdi declined to say how much Microsoft is spending on the Windows 10 blitz.
In the 12 months that ended in June 2013 – the period during which Microsoft rolled out the current version of Windows – the company disclosed that its advertising costs rose by $900 million, largely due to the fall 2012 launch of the then-new Windows and the Surface tablet-style computer.