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Here's What Microsoft Absolutely Must Accomplish in Marketing Windows 10

Experts agree: focus on benefits, scope of update

A screenshot of the new Microsoft Edge browser.

Transparent, honest, human. Are these three words that describe one of the largest technology brands of our time? Probably not. But that's what Microsoft's Kathleen Hall, corporate vp of global advertising and media, is working toward with the brand's next major marketing push: the Windows 10 campaign.

Slated for release this summer, Windows 10 will be a massive operating system overhaul as well as a chance for its new browser called Microsoft Edge to make a splash. And with these product changes comes a great marketing opportunity.

Microsoft and M:United, the Microsoft arm of McCann, are hard at work on the new campaign, Hall said during a recent Creative Week panel.

"When you aim for transparent and honest as your main mantras, it makes life easier," said Hall. "As challenging as some of the experiences of the past might have been, it always gets better. So, you talk about the better part."

The new Edge browser offers the capability of "going to a website and being able to annotate that website and send that to somebody else with one button push," Hall said. "That's pretty freaking amazing. People forgive how bad something else might have been when they see how good something new is pretty quickly, so we focus on that."

While concrete details of the new campaign are yet to come it's clear that Microsoft understands the challenge it is facing. When it comes to younger consumers, the brand may be fighting an uphill battle, especially with those whose technology allegiance is firmly with Apple or Samsung products.

As it turns out, shifting that allegiance is one of the marketing objectives of the new campaign. "One of the goals is getting people to try it," said Rob Reilly, global creative chairman for McCann Worldwide, during the panel. "If you can convince people sitting in this audience to move to Microsoft, then you've won." 

But what marketing tactics will get consumers eager to try Windows 10? Emphasizing the scope of the update as well as the human experience inherent to the new operating system, analysts say.

"Microsoft needs to highlight that this is the most immersive operating system update ever and probably the most immersive OS on the market, period," said David McIninch, vp of marketing at Acquisio. "They should look at the ad messaging and imagery as being highly emotive, focused on the 'moments' that the apps can create to connect people to each other and to the important moments in their lives. For example, it's not helping you look for directions to a restaurant, it's enabling you to catch up with an old friend." 

Roy DeYoung, senior vp of creative strategy for PM Digital, agrees. "The messaging should focus on the benefits," he said. "Keep the branding fluff minimal, and get right on to the rationale behind the changes." 

But making sure the brand messaging is consistent is key, says Fluent's evp of product and technology Sean Cullen, who noted that consumers could be confused by the unexplained jump from Windows 8 to Windows 10. 

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