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Leaked MS email reveals WinXP, Xbox launch spin plans

Free gear, 'timed' stories, privileged access, the news before it happens...

With exquisite timing a very naughty mole leaks us an email from top Microsoft spinmeister Mark Murray. Not any old email, either - it details events for the week leading up to Der Tag, today, the XP launch in NYC.

There's lots of good stuff in the email, which seems to be Murray's regular bulletin to get the spinmeisters und madels singing off the same liedersheet. Its basic role is: to drive home the various messages (not all of them concerning XP) Microsoft will be pushing this week; to keep everybody abreast of who's where, pushing what; to provide a heads-up regarding events to be covered in the next few weeks, and to akeep them abreast of what's going to be in tomorrow's newspapers.

Least interesting from the tomorrow's newspapers point of view is this: "This week, another in a series of Microsoft essays on technology and society will run in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Times/PI and other major U.S. newspapers. Titled 'Creating Tools for the Digital Decade,' the essay focuses on the tremendous customer and partner effort behind Windows XP, with the overall theme that broad partnership and collaboration is how great software is made. The essay will be available at starting Wednesday."

And there indeed it is. Dull, trite, vacuous are not the words. Also due on presspass on Wednesday is something weirdly called "Windows XP Partner Love." Surely not, but we haven't checked... Apart from the paid-for advertorial stuff, the week's expected non-XP coverage is as follows:

"Monday, Tom Sullivan of Infoworld is expected to run a story highlighting customers who are building XML Web services using Visual Studio.NET & .NET Framework, rather than competing platforms. The story may feature Newport News, NCR/Hausbank & Cafe Press as customers.

"Monday, Mitch Wagner of InternetWeek is expected to run a competitive piece highlighting Microsoft and Sun's efforts with XML Web services, closely examining the issue of portability vs. interoperability. We expect the story will be negative, [bad Mitch, bad!] focusing on analyst rhetoric that Microsoft is forcing customers into a proprietary vertical world of Windows-based applications. Barry Goffe, Group Product Manager, was interviewed for the story.

"Monday, we expect Newsweek to include comments from Bill Gates, discussing Microsoft's vision for the 2025 classroom, in a 'Future of Education' special section. Additionally, we expect Brandon Lloyd, the Washington D.C. teacher of the Washington2Washington program, to be included separately, discussing how technology will be leveraged in the future classroom. This special section was originally scheduled for earlier in the year, but was postponed due to the September 11th terrorist attacks.

"Next week, Xbox will be featured in the 'Possessions' section of GQ magazine."

But onwards to today's XP launch in NYC. In the "International" section we note a familiar name, Mark Thomas, associated with what appears to be a charabanc full of influential international press. As we appear not to be on it, but have been awarded tickets to the UK launch in the Royal Festival Hall instead, The Register clearly must read up on winning friends and influentialising people. "There will be over 120 international press at the Windows XP Launch in New York City [go on, rub it in), conducting a range of activities, including 1:1 interviews with Microsoft spokespeople and partners, and several roundtable with Billg for key international media [not us again]."

Meanwhile in London, Steveb will be doing "a series of keynotes for customers, partners and developers, plus media events ranging from large press conferences to TV interviews and roundtables with significant trade journalists." Rick Belluzzo will be doing similar across South America, but The Reg appears not to be "significant" either, ho hum...

Prior to the XP launch event, His Billness himself is due to open the Nasdaq, which chimes neatly with one of the XP key messages - This is going to be a great holiday season with Windows XP. Windows XP presents a wealth of opportunity for all kinds of partners, including retailers, ISVs, IHVs, computer manufacturers and service providers." Still trying to plant that story about WinXP rescuing the world economy? Tsk. At the launch itself, Bill will have a "surprise celebrity guest." But Mark's not telling, yet.

Back to massaging the press. Bill's dance card is full: "Following Thursday’s event, Bill will appear on key business television and radio programs, and will participate in three international press roundtables. [we bitched about this already]" Mark's sappers have meanwhile been tunneling deep into the media in preparation for the assault: "Several Windows XP stories will be timed with the launch, including stories in Wall Street Journal, Fortune, New York Times, eWeek and Associated Press." As to how Mark knows what's going to be in today's editions of such reputable papers, we know not. And his use of the expression "will be timed" is tactless and hurtful, to say the least. He must mean more advertising, surely...

Bored with the XP launch? Us too, but never mind, here comes the Xbox rollout, with presents for everybody. Well, almost everybody, but you're sick of us whining, right? "On October 25 and 26, the Xbox team host select industry analysts on campus for a series of briefings to set the context for the launch, preview the marketing activities and address Xbox online. Key Xbox team members will be present to demonstrate games, talk about marketing, and provide a vision for the online story. Also, we will ship final retail units to approximately 450 analysts and top-tier consumer, enthusiast, online and broadcast media."

Bad move, surely. XP revives the economy on Thursday, 450 top analysts start playing with their Xboxes on Friday, the market goes to hell again on Monday? But watch out for a sudden onslaught of enthusiastic first looks at Xbox. More "select broadcast and print media" will be attending "the unveiling of Xbox Odyssey to Microsoft employees" on Friday, and the Xbox onslaught begins barely a beat away from the XP-fest. "This will serve as the official kick-off to the Xbox Odyssey tour, and provide great visuals and feedback as we move toward the November 15th North America launch of Xbox."

Back with the analysts, Krishnan Srinivasan of Investor Relations is keeping an eye on things. There were over 20 financial analysts registered at the Professional Developers Conference this week, and today "IR will host over 50 financial analysts at the Windows XP Launch in New York. In addition, financial analysts have registered to attend launch events in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hartford and Detroit." We know you're not anything like as interested in analysts as Microsoft is (is anyone?) but we thought we'd do these guys a favour by drawing their attention to the free Xboxes while they still had time to ask for them." ®

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