Microsoft Gives a Nod to Boyhood With New Windows 10 Ads Featuring Ethan Hawke

An OS for the next generation

Ethan Hawke is helping Microsoft introduce the new Windows 10 to the world. The Boyhood star is the voice of the new TV campaign that launches today ahead of the big Windows 10 rollout starting July 29.

Windows upgrades are always a big event for Microsoft, which has been doing them for more than 30 years. This latest operating system is meant to reposition Microsoft in a multidevice world, helping its users navigate from tablets to desktops to the Xbox with a smooth software experience and easy access to apps.

The TV commercials hint at new software features while creating the sense that Microsoft is focused on future users—users who will hopefully become as familiar with Windows as previous generations. In fact, the stars of the ads are babies.

"The challenge we always face is we love the product, and it's a beautiful thing to show, but it's really about the people who use it," said Kathleen Hall, corporate vp of global advertising and media. "We need to find a way to bring to life what a significant milestone this is."

In the ad below, Hawke explains that babies will grow up without having to "remember passwords or obsess about security." Windows 10 boasts new facial recognition software as a security feature. There's also its Cortana voice assistant software and the ability to draw on Web pages and share notes. And the app store is designed to encourage developers to build for all Windows devices.

Windows is one of Microsoft's top businesses, and the latest upgrade comes at a time of transition for the company and its new CEO Satya Nadella. For the first time, Microsoft is making new Windows software free for existing customers.

"Offering it for free is a pretty amazing milestone," Hall said. "The goal really is to get as many people as possible experiencing Windows 10 through the free download."

The marketing will hit print, TV and digital outlets. As for social media, Microsoft plans micro-targeted posts on Facebook to tailor the message for specific groups of users.

"The first phase of the campaign is to just say, 'Check out this new cool experience and what it means for Windows and Microsoft,'" Hall said. "The next phase is about devices more going into the holidays."

Here's a look at the new TV ads that start running today:


Client: Microsoft Corp.

Agency: M:United

VP global advertising and media at Microsoft: Kathleen Hall

Global creative chairman: Rob Reilly, McCann

Co-Chief Creative Officers: Sean Bryan, Tom Murphy

Director: Erich Joiner, Tool Co.

Director of photography: Bob Richardson

Voice-over talent: Ethan Hawke