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Apple plans Mac marketing blitz around Windows 7 launch


Apple plans to counter the upcoming release of Windows 7 with advertisements that will lambaste the upgrade process from Windows XP, and portray Macs as more secure.

According to BusinessWeek, Apple will launch ads in response to the debut of Microsoft's latest operating system, due on Oct 22. The spots are expected to criticize Windows and portray the Mac as a superior platform. Apple views the launch as an opportunity to lure Windows users to the Mac.

"It will likely make the case that Macs are less susceptible to viruses and are best suited to its popular iPods and and iPhones," the report said. "And look for it to poke fun at Microsoft for making XP owners go through an arduous process to upgrade to Windows 7 — one that includes backing up all their files to an external drive, reformatting their PC, and then reinstalling all of their old programs, assuming they still have the CDs."

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for Worldwide Product Marketing, said the impending launch of Windows 7 presents a "good opportunity" for the Mac maker to make market share gains. He said the upgrade process from Windows XP to Windows 7 in particular is one that consumers will likely find unpleasant.

"Any user that reads all those steps is probably going to freak out," Schiller said. "If you have to go through all that, why not just buy a Mac?"

Analysts have predicted that the launch of Windows 7 will not have a major impact on Mac sales. In fact, history would suggest that the debut of a new Microsoft operating system has a positive effect on Apple's computer sales. Over the last 10 years, Mac sales have spiked following the debut of Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Windows 7 has earned rave reviews from some, including known Apple advocate Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal. The technology columnist said that the latest operating system from Apple's rival to the north has narrowed the gap between Windows and Mac OS X.

But Apple also recently launched its own operating system upgrade in the form of Mac OS X 10.6. The $29 Snow Leopard debuted on Aug. 28 and got off to a swift sales start doubling that of its predecessor, Leopard, and performing four times better than Tiger. Apple's new operating system was also met positively by reviewers.

Schiller said the adoption of new versions of Mac OS X shows Apple's momentum in the PC market. Both Windows Vista and Leopard were released at the same time, and more than 70 percent of Mac users made the upgrade, while less than 20 percent of those on Windows made the jump to Vista.

"I expect Snow Leopard will have an amazing upgrade rate," he told BusinessWeek, "and Windows 7 won't."