By Matt Burns
Windows 8 launches on October 26. It's been said to be Microsoft's (MSFT) most important product launch to date. And Redmond is reportedly prepped to properly support the product with a massive marketing campaign. Forbes reports the campaign costs between $1.5-$1.8 billion, making it the largest product launch in the history of the industry.
Microsoft has strangely been relatively quiet about Windows 8 so far. On the eve of its release, the company seems to be instead focusing on Bing and Internet Explorer 9 marketing. But that should change in the coming days. Windows 8 launches in two weeks. And thanks to its differences, unlike previous Windows versions, Microsoft has to sell the OS to the average consumer, the enthusiast and corporate IT manager.
Windows 8 is different and not different in a good way demonstrated by Windows Phone 8. Microsoft's upcoming mobile OS is unlike iOS and Android. Everything from the notifications to apps to workflow is different but also refreshing. The smartphone market has doubled in size nearly every year for the last five years. Most consumers have not been on a particular mobile platform long enough to have the workflow utterly ingrained within their DNA. At this point, a change to something else could be welcomed, even celebrated. But that's not the case for Windows 8.
Windows has featured the same flow for 17 years. As the dominant desktop OS in the world, there is a large chunk of the world's populace who have only used Windows. I'm a big fan of it on a mobile device, but not a desktop computer. Microsoft wisely knew that it was going to have to spend big money to convince users that different is good, and that Windows 8 is worth the trouble to learn a new workpath.
Making Windows 8 dramatically cheaper than previous versions should help as well. Microsoft is pricing the upgrade versions of Windows 8 to move. It's only $40 to upgrade from Windows XP, Vista or 7.
The vast majority of this huge marketing campaign no doubt targets new computer buyers. The Windows 8 marketing blitz is likely designed to get people into Best Buy to purchase a new computer. For the first time in a generation, Microsoft can honestly advertise that Windows offers something different. Replace that aging, malware-infested Pentium 4 desktop with a new, touch-enabled all-in-one. This is where Microsoft will win.
Details are still light on Microsoft's Windows 8 marketing campaign, but expect to see the new Windows flag and the Metro interface everywhere over the holiday season. Microsoft wants Windows 8 to be the Furby of 2012. Windows Phone 8 launches shortly after the desktop operating system. The Microsoft Surface should drop in the near future as well. Microsoft wants to draw all the attention its way this holiday season, and with the big money reportedly being spent on marketing, it's certainly putting its pocketbook behind that goal.