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Microsoft to cast .Net in ad campaign

The software titan will begin translating its complex .Net strategy into business-friendly terms with a $200 million ad campaign that launches Monday.

Microsoft will begin translating its complex .Net strategy into business-friendly terms with a $200 million ad campaign that launches Monday.

With the campaign, dubbed "One Degree of Separation," the software maker will be pitching its .Net products and services--designed to bring business computing onto the Web--as a means by which companies can eliminate time and technology barriers between customers, partners and employees. The ads will appear in 10 countries in Europe and the Americas, Microsoft said Friday.

The ads will attempt to explain how Microsoft's vast .Net technology can, for instance, help make supply chains more efficient. They will feature companies that have already tried out .Net, including Dollar Rent A Car, which used the technology to integrate its reservation system with the Web site of an airline partner.

The .Net strategy ties together nearly all of the software giant's products, services, Web sites and development efforts. It includes a new blueprint for how software should be designed; a set of products for building that software; and .Net My Services, an initial set of Microsoft-hosted services. Later this year, the company plans to offer content, shopping, banking, entertainment and other Internet services through a variety of devices, all linked to its Passport authentication service.

Although Microsoft's introduction earlier this week of its Visual Studio.Net development tools was well-received by developers and Wall Street analysts, the company has yet to refine other aspects of the .Net strategy. Potential security vulnerabilities have already been spotted in the tools.

"Several elements are still needed...before the entire .Net platform can be deployed," Merrill Lynch analyst Christopher Shilakes said in a research note Wednesday.

Microsoft executives have acknowledged that the .Net strategy hasn't been perfected, especially when it comes to translating the technical aspects into concepts that fit with the way businesspeople think. In a recent interview with CNET, Jim Allchin, group vice president of Microsoft's Platforms Group, said that the development of .Net My Services hasn't been fully thought out yet.

"I think we just got ahead of ourselves and didn't get clear enough thinking," Allchin said of the technology. "We did have smart people working on this, and they've done some incredible innovation. But the business side was confusing and didn't fit with what I think many of our customers wanted."

The advertising campaign follows a $200 million campaign for the company's new Windows XP launch. Allchin said Microsoft has not finished spending that budget.