Microsoft started a huge advertising campaign for Windows 8 and Surface during its launch last year, but the company is reportedly planning to spend even more this year for Windows 8.1. Winsupersite reports that Microsoft spent $241 million on retail Windows efforts last year, but that it’s expected to spend around $405 million this year. $131 million is said to be related to offers and incentives, while the rest ($274 million) will be spent on marketing and operating expenses.
The aim of the big spend is to push Windows tablets in retail stores. Microsoft is reportedly aiming for around 16 million Windows tablet sales over the holiday season, with improvements to its marketing and retail efforts being the main changes to help convince consumers to buy Windows tablets. Microsoft recently teamed up with Best Buy to create Windows Stores inside 600 retail locations and the software giant is doing the same with other retailers around the world. Windows tablet sales have been slow since the release of Windows 8 a year ago, and Microsoft is clearly hoping that Windows 8.1 and a new range of devices will help spur them on this time around.
Only 20 percent of devices will ship with Windows 8.1
Despite Windows 8.1’s release late last month, it appears that not all retail PCs will ship with the update preinstalled. Winsupersite reports that only 20 percent of PCs will include Windows 8.1, and retailers like Best Buy, Dixons, and FNAC are being supplied with USB-based Windows 8.1 Upgrade Kits to update systems. Devices like Dell’s Venue 8 Pro tablet, Asus’ $349 T100 transforming tablet, and Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet are all expected to ship with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 preinstalled, but some older models are clearly lagging behind on Windows 8.1 readiness.
While Microsoft’s previous marketing included dancing school girls for Surface and a countdown for Windows 8, this year’s changes clearly focus on the products involved. Microsoft’s first Surface 2 ad focuses on the features and reality of using a Windows-based tablet, while the first Windows 8.1 ad includes the return of the Start button and the idea of "Windows everywhere." That appears to be Microsoft’s main focus this year: Windows across all devices. With Microsoft admitting "worldwide, Windows share of retail devices continues to decline" in its own internal documents, it’s no wonder the company is attempting to refocus its efforts for the holiday season. With strong competition from low-cost Android tablets, Samsung's huge marketing budget, and Apple’s new iPad Air and iPad mini, it’s still going to be tough to convince consumers to go for Windows on any potential tablet purchases this holiday.