Microsoft last week claimed its retail partners should start revving up for its biggest Christmas ever after it released a raft of new consumer software titles and hardware products.
"We're introducing 38 new products including a mix of learning and reference titles, productivity software, games and hardware," said Melinda Dunn, product manager for the home and retail group.
The star performers according to Dunn will be its new Intellimouse, which Microsoft is touting as having the most revolutionary design in the mouse's 30-year history and its key game products Age of Empires II, Flight Simulator 2000 and Links 2000.
"This is without question going to be our biggest ever Christmas in terms of both the quantity and quality of our titles," Dunn said. "We're expecting to see very strong growth. The key for retailers is going to be to make sure they stock enough of these products because some are going to explode into the market," she claimedMicrosoft is expecting big things from its Intellimouse, which it is touting as being a "breathrough" product in terms of mouse design. The Intellimouse does away with the traditional mouse ball, instead using optical sensors and digital signal processor to track movement. This means it can be used on almost any surface and still provide unparalleled accuracy, according to Microsoft.
"The Intellimouse is the hottest advancement to the mouse category in 30 years, providing the ultimate in accuracy and reliability," Dunn said.
The mouse is also packaged in a very "cool" silver casing and has five buttons specifically designed to aid Internet navigation and game playing, she said.
Microsoft is also aiming to triple its sales in the keyboard category with three new products featuring new Internet and multimedia capabilities. It is releasing three new Sidewinder gaming devices, too.
These include the Game Pad Pro high-end PC game controller, the Precision Racing Wheel and the 3D game controller Dual Strike, designed for 3D games like Quake.
In the game arena, its category killers will be the sequel to its best-selling strategy game Age of Empires as well as updates to its popular flight simulator and Links golf games.
Microsoft is planning to invest significant marketing dollars with both pre-launch and launch campaigns for Age of Empires II - The Age of Kings.
"There is going to be a lot of activity and a lot of hype surrounding this title," Dunn said.
As well as Flight Simulator 2000 and Links 2000, Microsoft will also release International Soccer 2000, Pandora's Box, NBA Inside Drive 2000 and Close Combat Trilogy.
In the productivity space, Works and WorksSuite 2000 will receive its biggest revamp in the products history and Microsoft will also release new versions of some of its graphics titles including Picture IT, Greetings and its Home Publishing Suite.
Its flagship reference and learning products will be the Encarta Reference Suite.
"This will be a breakthrough year for us in terms of both the technology used in the title and it's also the biggest ever in terms of Australian content," Dunn said.
Microsoft is aiming to tempt customers with a $100 rebate for existing Encarta users as well as users of Brittanica CD-ROM, World Book CD-ROM and Websters. It is also going to give $5 to the Australian Conservation Foundation for every one of the first 10,000 Encarta products it sells this Christmas.
Product Availability ERP Pricing
Age of Empires II01 November 1999 $89.95Flight Simulator 2000 Std22 November 1999 $99.95Flight Simulator 2000 Pro22 November 1999 $139.00Links 200001 November 1999 $89.95International Soccer 2000 31 August 1999 $49.95Pandora's Box31 August 1999 $49.95NBA Inside Drive 200031 August 1999 $49.95Close Combat Trilogy04 October 1999 $79.95Productivity II. Software Products - Productivity Product Availability ERP PricingPicture It! 200027 September 1999 $89.95Greetings 200018 October 1999 $49.95Home Publishing 200018 October 1999 $79.95Home Publishing Suite 200018 October 1999 $119.00Works 200020 September 1999 $119.00WorksSuite 200020 December 1999 $189.00LearningIII. Software Products - EncartaProduct Availability ERP PricingEncarta Reference Suite 200020 September 1999 $199.00*Encarta 2000 Deluxe20 September 1999 $149.00 **Encarta World Atlas20 September 1999 $89.95 ***Encarta World English Dictionary20 September 1999 $69.95HardwareIV. Hardware Products - Mouse and KeyboardsProduct Availability ERP PricingIntelliMouse Explorer22 November 1999 $99.95IntelliMouse with IntelliEye27 September 1999 $79.95Natural Keyboard Pro22 November 1999 $119.00Internet Keyboard Pro22 November 1999 $89.95Internet Keyboard22 November 1999 $59.95Gaming controllersV. Hardware Products - SideWinder Gaming DevicesProduct Availability ERP PricingSideWinder Force Feedback Joystick with Mech Warrior 3.025 October 1999 $299.00SideWinder Dual Strike22 November 1999 $99.95SideWinder Game Pad Pro22 November 1999 $79.95SideWinder Precision Racing Wheel22 November 1999 $169.00*Plus $100.00 rebate for existing user and users of Britannica CD- Rom, World Book CD-Rom and Websters. See coupon in box for details. Offer valid until Jan 31st 1999.
**Plus $60.00 rebate for existing users and users of Britannica CD-Rom, World Book CD-Rom and Websters. See coupon in box for details. Offer valid until Jan 31st 1999.
***Plus $40.00 rebate for existing users. See coupon in box for details. Offer valid until Jan 31st 1999.