updated 03:40 pm EDT, Fri September 5, 2008
Microsoft Guru Strategy
Microsoft on Friday said that its $300 million marketing campaign will now involve in-store representatives to promote the brand, the company's general manager of corporate communications, Tom Pilla, says. Effectively mimicking Apple's Geniuses as well as their floor specialists, Microsoft will run a trial later this year that sees 155 trained experts in Windows, nicknamed Microsoft Gurus, answering questions at larger retail chains such as Best Buy and Circuit City.
The Gurus will answer both general questions about computers and giving their own demos of different Microsoft programs and services working in tandem, including Windows Vista as well as Windows Mobile-based smartphones and Windows Live web features. Like their Apple counterparts, the Windows-focused agents won't be paid by commission and will instead focus on their ability to help whichever customers they receive.
Repairs and other technical support won't be part of the new program.
Microsoft plans for the new workers to be in place by the end of 2008 but hasn't said when the program would expand if successful; it has already been running a very small trial of 25 employees since October of last year.
The move comes just as holiday shopping is about to begin and as part of a larger concerted effort to regain control of Vista's image, which Microsoft says was partly tarnished by Apple's "Get a Mac" ads as well as by a premature release of the new Windows version that saw slow performance and bugs discourage many potential buyers. Microsoft claims to have solved these issues with updates over the past several months.