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Ad campaign to tout Windows' capabilities

SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. is launching one of its biggest and costliest advertising campaigns ever, but don't expect the big splash to accompany a new product.

Instead, the campaign premiering today is aimed at revitalizing consumer interest in Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system.

A new version of Windows has not been released since Windows XP debuted nearly four years ago. And although Microsoft plans to launch a new version in late 2006, the company said this new campaign will not be geared toward that product, code-named Longhorn.

Scott Lennard, director of advertising for Microsoft's consumer marketing group, would not say whether Microsoft is concerned that the aggressive television, print, and Internet campaign focused on Windows XP could spur consumers to buy the older product -- effectively snagging sales from Longhorn when it's released.

Instead, he characterized the campaign as being generally about Windows, with a focus on Windows XP because that's the company's best current version.

Nor would Lennard say how much the campaign will cost Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, although he characterized the 15-month, international effort as one of the largest in the corporation's history. Microsoft spent $200 million on a four-month marketing campaign when Windows XP was launched.

The latest campaign will focus on specialized tasks consumers can do with Windows, such as making music or learning about astronomy. These aren't new functions for Windows, but Lennard said people may not know about them.

Windows enjoys incredible dominance on the world's computers. The research firm IDC estimates that 94.4 percent of new computer operating systems sold in 2003 were Windows products.

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