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Microsoft plans massive Windows ad campaign

Advertising campaign will last for 15 months as Microsoft gears up for 20th anniversary of Windows.

Even though Windows XP has been on the market for more than three years, Microsoft is hoping a new advertising campaign will "start something" when it comes to enthusiasm for the operating system.

The campaign, which will last for 15 months, is designed to showcase all the things Windows can do. At the same time, the company is gearing up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Windows' debut.

"As we enter the third decade of Windows, the 'Start Something' campaign celebrates how people can follow their dreams and pursue what they are passionate about--from creating an in-home music studio to starting a new business or becoming the family photographer," Senior Vice President Will Poole said in a statement late Sunday.

The campaign, which will launch in 11 countries with online, print and television ads, will try to play up Windows as the start to many things. The ads will have messages like "Start something curious," "Start discovering lost cities" and "Start feeding your brain." In all, Microsoft said there are 51 TV spots, 39 print ads and 250 online advertisements.

The new campaign harks back 10 years to the high-profile, worldwide launch of Windows 95, which used the Rolling Stones song "Start me up" as its theme.

Given its time frame, the "Start Something" campaign will serve as a run-up to the debut of Longhorn, the next version of Windows, which is set to go on sale by next year's holiday shopping season. Jim Allchin, the head of the Windows unit, said in an interview last week to expect a massive ad push for Longhorn as well.

A beta, or test version, of Longhorn is slated for this summer. Developers will get an updated preview version of Longhorn at next week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle.

The new ad campaign also comes as rival Apple Computer prepares to launch its next operating system--Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger--which goes on sale April 29.