Microsoft New Zealand is opting for a virtual launch for its Windows XP operating system by way of contrast to the real world launch for Windows 95, says Terry Allen, Microsoft's manager of developer relations.
Microsoft believes many of its target market of early XP adopters are already online and using some of the digital tools XP has incorporated into the OS. Allen, who is coordinating the XP launch effort in New Zealand, says the local launch has had most impact online and it has been easy to find Microsoft's target market for Windows XP by going to the internet.
Microsoft has targeted certain Hotmail users based on their demographic make-up and whether they are listed as being New Zealand accounts or not, with an XP push that has proved very valuable for the company.
"The response has been great. MSN has been highly involved in the pre-launch build-up. They've had their own mini-site and have been counting down to it."
Microsoft is offering a dream PC package that has had 4000 correct entries.
"These weren't easy questions either, by the way. Many of those [responses] came from the Hotmail campaign."
Allen says the XP marketing campaign is comparable to the launch of Windows 95.
"So it's pretty significant. This time we've spread it out through a number of mechanisms," says Allen.
"We've done a number of roadshows for OEMs, for retail, channel training and so on. The launch will have two full-on sessions for consumers and for professional users in both Auckland and then in Wellington."
But the razzmatazz and hoopla that surrounded the Windows 95 launch, with midnight openings and worldwide television coverage, is missing this time round.
"We did the whole midnight opening for the first copy of Windows XP to ship with an OEM machine so it didn't seem right to do that again, and the US will be leading the announcements this time, not New Zealand."
Allen says things might have been different but for the events of September 11, and having the launch of XP taking place in both London and New York means the company has shifted the emphasis to the US event.
Users won't be seeing XtraMSN re-branded with Windows XP colours, the way it will be in Europe and elsewhere, because of the co-branding with Telecom's Xtra.
"The roll out will be global but not where we have co-branding - it's different with two identities." MSN Brazil already has the new look.