Retailers are gearing up for the October 25 launch of Windows XP, backed by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign from the software giant.
Microsoft believes the XP launch will be its first truly global marketing campaign - with a larger investment than that of its Windows 95 launch. The company will spend $US250 million in advertising worldwide and will conduct a multi-million dollar advertising push throughout Australia.
Harvey Norman is focusing its efforts on the upcoming launch, in the hope the introduction of the new operating system will act as a catalyst to kick-start the upgrade cycle among consumers.
"As an industry we need XP to work. There is not enough new technology driving sales and giving consumers a reason to upgrade," Harvey Norman's general manager of computers and communications John Slack-Smith said. "If it makes the experience of using a PC better then it has got to be a great thing for everyone concerned."
Slack-Smith well remembers the frenzy surrounding the introduction of Windows 95 - he spent 48-straight hours on the Harvey Norman floor during the launch. Although it is unlikely XP will match the frenzy that surrounded Windows 95, the launch is vital to the health of the retail channel, he said.
"In terms of shear numbers, I don't think it will [rival the Windows 95] launch, but it certainly has the opportunity to have as fundamental effect on the industry."
Microsoft is working with the channel to help integrate advertising and marketing with its own efforts. Additionally, the channel can submit information on special promotions, events and training for free inclusion on its Australian Web site.
Retailers will also be utilising Microsoft's Windows XP logo program, whereby compatible software, hardware and devices with XP is packaged with compatibility levels. The program will encompass three tiers - Windows XP Compatible, Designed for Windows XP and Optimised for Windows XP.
Photograph: Harvey Norman's John Slack-Smith