Microsoft Hard at Work to Woo Global Consumers, App Developers

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By Erik Pineda | November 2, 2012 2:19 PM EST

Microsoft's global marketing blitz is in full swing, deliberately gunning for every possible market to realise the target numbers earlier set by company CEO Steve Ballmer for the newly-unveiled Windows 8.

Mr Ballmer's crosshair is steadily trained on a far away mark, on it written the figures 500 million, which are the number of devices earlier declared by the Microsoft chief that will run the multi-platform Windows 8, fully-redesigned to power conventional PCs, tablet computers and smartphones.

In key Asian markets, the Microsoft marketing drive has been set in motion, with expensive advertising spots bought to rotate TV and radio ad campaigns that employ catchy images and tunes to capture consumers' fickle attention.

Sales reports to be published on January 2013 will initially tell if the international marketing push is paying off, which Microsoft has reportedly backed with a war-chest of at least $US1 billion.

And the tech giant is not stopping short on luring only would-be buyers, fully-aware that sharpening the teeth of the revamped Windows environment would be more effective by attracting app developers to its side - the more, the better.

Tuesday this week, Mr Ballmer hosted some 2000 app developers on Microsoft's home turf in Seattle. And he proved that the software giant can be generous in making its case that building up Windows-based applications is a good proposition that benefits everyone.

But first, the Microsoft chief made sure that his guest developers will immediately feel the benefits by tossing free Surface tablets for all the attendees, who Reuters said forked out $US2000 to gain entrance for the event.

And they were sent home not only with the new company hardware but also with high-end Windows smartphones in the Lumia 920, courtesy of Nokia, which has become one of Microsoft key partners on its invigorated quest to play a bigger role in the multi-billion dollar mobile device industry.

The developers' haul of freebies also included free SkyDrive account that could hold storage space of up to 100GB, capping a generous package that Mr Ballmer desribed as Microsoft's way of evangelising (also reads: winning over) its important partners.

The question now begs: Is Microsoft's gambit getting the desired results so far? Some analysts noted that major online players like Facebook and Twitter remain missing in the nascent Windows ecosystem, leaving it with a weak catalogue of apps at the moment.

"But if Microsoft stays focused on quality not quantity, they can win," Russ Whitman of Ratio Interactive told Reuters.

In fact, many developers have expressed "some excitement about the new operating system and many of the new devices that are coming to market," according to Wells Fargo Securities analyst Jason Maynard, adding that many of these present iOS developers toy with the idea of returning to the Microsoft fold.

"We have heard some developers talk about 're-Microsofting' and moving from their Macs for app development," Mr Maynard told Reuters.

The numbers affiliated with Windows, which has some 670 million machines on previous Windows versions, are overwhelmingly attractive to these developers, with the likelihood that they will migrate to Windows 8 and naturally create demands for apps to work on the system, Mike Cousins, a developer from Canada, said.

Mr Cousins told Reuters that it would be hardly surprising if "we'll see a wave of (Windows) apps coming out pretty soon."

And developers, he added, would gladly oblige as "some of the new changes are pretty incredible and are going to make developing, especially some of the mobile apps, much easier."

With the new Windows developers' tools, apps could be integrated into mobile clients in minutes when previously the whole task entails days of work, Mr Cousins said.

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