Microsoft Implements a Welcome Shift in its Public Relations Plan for Windows 8

Public Relations is an important tool in the product branding process for any business. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) need to skillfully implement a Public Relations function. Early stage ISVs can benefit from a study of the activities of mature, large ISVs.

Microsoft®‘s Public Relations function has been very visible over the last several months. Many brands are in a state of transition at the company. While its marketing communications efforts have maintained a consistent tone throughout these changes, the Public Relations strategy appeared to take a significant shift in direction in early May, 2013.

Let’s focus on the launch of the new Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 debuted in the fall of 2012. A serious Public Relations problem arose soon after:

  1. Steven Sinovsky, Head of the Windows products division abruptly left the company. Formal comments from Microsoft indicated problems for Mr. Sinovsky arising from what we, and likely the public, could only construe as a breakdown in the proper performance of the marketing team — not the picture Public Relations would otherwise want to paint for the public

Controversy arose soon after the launch of the product about actual sales numbers for Windows 8 licenses. As Tom Warren wrote on The Verge on April 26, 2013, Six months on, Windows 8 sales are a mystery, despite an early announcement of sales of 40 million licenses for the new OS as of the end of November, 2012, and an additional 60 million announced in January of 2013, ” . . . at the current point in the Windows 8 rollout, Redmond has not yet disclosed the latest figures. Microsoft’s Q3 earnings have come and gone, and Windows revenue was flat despite a reported downturn in PC sales. At the same time in Windows 7’s history three years ago, Microsoft was declaring it ‘by far the fastest-selling operating system in history” with over 10 percent of all PCs running Windows 7. The company also announced 100 million license sales for Windows 7 on April 27th, 2010.'” (quoted entirely from Mr. Warren’s article. Please click the link we’ve provided to read the complete article).

Bottom line, the actual sales number are, at a minimum controversial, and at best indicative of a very cool reception for the product by the public.

Finally, questions were arising around the same time about Microsoft’s product distribution strategy. These questions stemmed from the company’s decision to enter the computing hardware business with the Surface tablet.

We think it’s useful to file most of the Public Relations tactics we’ve noted here in the “denial” bucket. The message of the denial bucket is “we’re fine, they’re wrong”. In the next post to this blog we’ll speak to the shift we noted early this month in the Public Relations strategy, to one better labeled “sober acceptance”. We think this message is working better.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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