Q&A: Microsoft's Windows marketing chief says Apple's 'scared'

Q&A: Microsoft's Windows marketing chief says Apple's 'scared'

Says brand is 'coming alive' with Windows 7, new 'laptop hunter' ads

But plenty of bloggers and journalists have done their own calculations and concluded that there is no "Apple Tax" and that when you buy a cheaper Windows PC, you make a big compromise.

I don't think that's true, and I don't get their numbers. When you fundamentally look at the facts, at the cost of features like HDMI-out, or Blu-ray, or getting a 17-inch LCD screen, or memory or RAM ... there is a tax to pay. In my mind, there is no argument when you look at the basic facts and data around this.

Besides hitting Apple where it hurts on price, where else do you think your marketing has scored points?

The message is coming across on simplicity. One of our best ads is the Rookies ad with Kylie, which shows how easy it is for a four-and-a-half-year-old girl to use Windows to do photo editing and sharing. Windows 7 is going to simplify everyday tasks, work the way you expect it to -- and want it to -- and make new things possible.

The UK "Rookies" commercials I've seen are a little more adventurous and cheeky. Why not bring some of that spirit here, if only to deflect the criticism about Microsoft always being so bland?

The UK ads are a reflection of the culture and the folks. We love those ads. We love those ads a lot. We thought long and hard about bringing those ads to mainstream U.S. television, because we tested them here and they tested extremely well.

But we also had the "Laptop Hunter" ads doing extremely well. So we were in the enviable position of having a couple of great elements from two different campaigns. We decided to stick with consistency, for now. But we'll continue evolving our ads. Sometimes it will be a lot of fun, sometimes it will be a little bit edgy.

What follow-up commercials can we expect?

We plan to keep using real people to tell real stories. Some people think we hired actors for "Laptop Hunters." We didn't. Those were real people who we told to find their best choice at a given price. They didn't know it was Microsoft. Many times the price would've allowed them to get an Apple, but they came back with a Windows PC.

We'll continue to evolve the discussion around what value means. It's not just about a great price, it's about having a style, a color, a configuration that is right for me. We're not dictating your choice.

What are your partners telling you?

If you ask Best Buy, they will tell you we are having an impact by driving people back into the retail experience. If you ask a PC maker, they will tell you that people associate our ads as much with Dell or HP as with Windows. We wanted not just to build the Windows brand, but build up the ecosystem. It's working better than we could have imagined.

In other words, the PC ecosystem that was demoralized during Vista is now being reinvigorated with Windows 7.

I was here during the Vista timeframe, and I can just tell you, this is a different day. We are all feeling very stoked.

Are you ever surprised, though, at the contrast? After all, on a technical level, you could say Windows 7 is "Vista Reloaded" or Vista Service Pack 3 without much exaggeration.

The development of Windows 7 started a few months even before Vista shipped. It was based on the fundamental premise that we would start with the customer. It would not be a "Field of Dreams" approach where we would build it and they would come.

So am I surprised that partners and customers are going absolutely ga-ga over this product right now? No.

When will the Microsoft Stores launch (see alleged scale models here) and how will they promote Windows 7?

We don't have any dates. All I can tell you is that some stores are coming, and they will all be about defining and bringing to life a new PC shopping experience.

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