To the sounds of Madonna's Ray of Light, Microsoft recently kicked
off its $200 million marketing campaign to hype the launch of
Windows XP, which is being described as the best operating system since
The Washington Post (October 25) noted that, together with partner
firms, PC manufacturers, and retail outlets also joining in the
promotion, the marketing push "could cost a combined $1
Analysis of early reviews suggests that Microsoft is effectively driving
home the XP's two primary features. First, XP was acknowledged for
delivering on its promise of being "the sturdiest Microsoft system in
years" (US News & World Report, October 29), resulting in less downtime
while your computer freezes up. The industry buzz is that the XP will
make the infamous "Blue Screen of Death" a thing of the past. What's not
to like about that?
Second, XP was described as notable for its support of a broad range of
digital media - digital photos, movie editing, CD burning, etc. The
Baltimore Sun (October 22) observed, "This is a sign that Microsoft is
serious about turning your computer into a multimedia playpen." That
sounds good, too.
Interestingly, The Washington Post (October 25) also noted that,
following September 11, Microsoft changed its marketing focus from quick
and easy convenience of new multimedia features to increased
But there were three key criticisms of XP. Ed Black, president of the
Computer and Communications Industry Association, told The Boston Globe
(October 25), "Our problem is not with the operating system itself; it's
with all the non-operating system features that are tied into it."
Others agreed. Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America,
admitted that XP "is perhaps Microsoft's best operating system so far,"
but then voiced his concern: "Anyone who has closely looked at XP
concludes that it was designed by Microsoft assuming that it would win
the (antitrust) case" (St. Petersburg Times, October 22).
The Christian Science Monitor (October 25) wrote, "Almost everything
about XP ... replicates the monopolistic practices Microsoft has been
found guilty of. It screams that Microsoft has learned little from its
recent convictions on eight counts of violating antitrust law." In
backing up these allegations, critics cited the various messaging, audio
and video programs built into the XP operating system that competitors
offer as a stand-alone product.
Reviews also didn't like Microsoft's demand that all users register
their copy of XP in order to activate it. Coverage indicated that
Microsoft was invoking software piracy as the reason behind the
registration process, but gave more attention to consumers' privacy
concerns. The final worrisome area was Microsoft's aggressive promotion
of its Passport service that would allow you to have a single log-in
user ID and password for various websites (but only those sites that pay
Microsoft for the service). "I resent the badgering," wrote a Business
Week columnist (October 22), who was annoyed at the pop-up window that
constantly asked for his personal information so he could use
Overall, XP is widely seen as a great improvement over previous Windows
editions, not just another upgrade with minor tweaks. But at the same
time, it wasn't viewed in the same revolutionary light as Windows
Most reviews concluded there was no need for the average consumer to
rush out and buy XP immediately.
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found