XP marketing blitz

Despite your musical taste (or lack thereof), there's no doubt that Microsoft have pulled out all stops in its attempt to convince the world that WindowsXP is going to save the world (or at least the PC industry).

Speaking from New York, Bill Gates dubbed the launch as "a great day for PC users and a great day for the PC industry," and judging by the promotional investment that Microsoft has poured into XP, it'd want to be.

Around $US250 million has been ploughed into XP advertising alone, allowing the public to be aurally pleasured by Madonna, bombarded by images of flying people and primary colours, and flashed into submission by browser-consuming web ads.

Australia missed out on the VIP stakes, with CEO Steve Ballmer and COO Rick Belluzzo heading off to Europe and Latin America respectively. Ballmer set about to make the world's fastest ever music video in less than four hours, utilising a new feature of XP, to snare a spot in the Guiness Book of Records. Belluzzo, meanwhile, was enlisting the help of the entire Sao Paulo, Brazil, population to plant trees along the Pinheiros River, resulting in the shut down of a three mile span of highway during the event.

While we had no Ballmer's or Belluzo's gracing us with their presence, Australia had its own brand of 'glitz' in the form of Rove McManus, Bardot and a Morrissey fashion show.

Australia also lost out in the 'digital baby' stakes. Microsoft announced that it would award more than $10,000 worth of 'cutting edge' technology to the first baby born at the Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney on the day of the launch. Lucky Alice Walker popped out first and scored herself the package, but wasn't as lucky as her counterpart in South Africa, who given the very flattering title 'Windows XP Baby' as well as bagging a US$526,126 educational sponsorship and a PC package.

Myers Grace Bros stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane also opened their doors at 8am as part of an 'early bird' promotion, reminiscent of the midnight shoppers that clamoured around waiting for Windows95.

However, this time there were only around ten people milling around when the doors opened at Grace Bros' Sydney store. A salesperson at Grace Bros, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the morning had been 'quite busy', but another said that there had only been around 20 sales of XP up until lunchtime.

Not everyone is buying the hype, however. Some open source devotees were looking to push their cause by donning OpenBSD t-shirts and distributing free software. One member of the Sydney Linux User Group said that there had been discussions about organising some "low-key, subversive activities" on the launch day, but said that in the end they seemed futile.

"Playing antics against a corporate monopoly might sound like fun, but it will achieve nought in the end," said the SLUG spokesperson.

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