It's no surprise that Microsoft Corp. is attending this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and that the computing powerhouse is making some big announcements at the nation's preeminent technology showcase.
Despite the whirlwind environment, Jose Pinero, Microsoft's director of diversity marketing and communications, took some time to chat with us. He reiterated some of what CEO Steve Ballmer announced early yesterday, and shed some further light on Microsoft's plans--particularly as they pertain to U.S. Hispanics.
First and foremost, Mr. Pinero was excited to share the news that Windows 7, the company's follow-up to the sometimes-maligned Windows Vista, is now available for public beta.
"The focus is simplicity, ease of use, and reliability," he told HispanicBusiness.com. "We wanted to make the system faster, the battery last longer, and make the interface easier for uses. The interface of Windows 7 will dramatically change how files are accessed in an intuitive way."
Mr. Pinero also pointed out that Windows 7 is designed to work well with touchscreen devices. He also cited the many entertainment improvements offered by the new operating system.
"Video, photos, music -- we want consumers to be able to play anything stored on their computers in any device."
He noted that the beta testing period is an excellent opportunity for the company to take suggestions from early adopters of the new OS. He said user feedback will help Microsoft come up with the best possible product.
Another major initiative that Mr. Pinero emphasized was Microsoft's Windows Live. He introduced it as a completely free central hub for users when online.
"You will have a homepage with your email, messenger, applications, photographs, all in a completely redesigned interface that looks great," he shared. "Windows Live is also a key component of how we extend the Windows experience," he said. "It's all about how people use technology, how they share it, and how they enjoy it."
While those are Microsoft's two big initiatives, Mr. Pinero also stressed the importance of new key partnerships with Dell, Verizon and Facebook.
"Dell, starting in February, will carry Windows Live Essential on all their computers," he said. "Verizon will be using Windows Live Search as its default search engine for mobile online users."
He also let us know that Facebook would be available as an application in the Windows Live hub.
Many of Microsoft's new initiatives are tied into what Mr. Pinero referred to as "collective entertainment." In other words, modern users want to enjoy their entertainment anywhere, on any of the three prominent "screens": computer, television, or cell phone. Microsoft and Windows are allowing more user choice in how entertainment is consumed.
Mr. Pinero offered an example:
"You can change your NetFlix queue of movies you want to rent through your cell phone, get that movie through a DVD or direct download; download the NetFlix movie via your X-Box, then choose whether to watch it on your computer or your flat-screen in the living room."
While Mr. Pinero acknowledged that the new, intuitive Windows 7 interface would be beneficial to small business or corporations, he didn't expand much on the business functionality. CES is, as the title says, a consumer show, and but he said to keep our eyes peeled for Microsoft's annual Small Business Summit in March to find out more about what Windows 7 can do for business. He mentioned that the global, online event would have a Hispanic business focus, as it has in the past.
What he did share at this time is that when Microsoft is designing its operating systems, it considers large, mid-size, and small enterprises, as well as consumers. He expressed confidence that the functionality, networking, and reliability would prove to be fantastic for companies.
Mr. Pinero sees attending trade shows, like CES and others, as a good first step in helping to ensure that U.S. Hispanics get the story on new products, like Windows 7, and find out about technology and ways to take advantage of it as an empowerment tool. In addition, Microsoft will, as it has done before for many products, will come out with marketing campaigns specifically focused on bringing important products and technology to the Hispanic consumer and Hispanic Business audience.
"I'm happy to report that in the development of multicultural marketing at Microsoft, in the last 3 to 5 years we went from a handful of teams to our current almost 20 teams this year. The point is that we are committed to bringing the technology message to the Hispanic community."
He indicated that we will see even more efforts from Microsoft -- including the aforementioned Small Business Summit -- to ensure the Hispanic business community and consumers are aware of what the company can do for them.
Mr. Pinero's approach to reaching U.S. Hispanics mirrors his company's position on entertainment media: it's all about choice.
"When we speak about Hispanics in the U.S., we think about English speakers, Spanish speakers, and those who are 50/50," he said. "We are very cognizant of the dynamics and demographics of the market. The reality is that we have to market to all of those preferences. In the end, it's about giving people choice, and providing consumers and customers what they need to succeed in their preferred language."
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