You wanna start something? Microsoft thinks you do. It's spending more than $200 million over the next 15 months on a massive global ad...

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You wanna start something?

Microsoft thinks you do. It’s spending more than $200 million over the next 15 months on a massive global ad campaign suggesting that Windows XP is the best tool for exploring hobbies and interests such as cooking, music, sports and travel.

Called “Start Something,” the campaign will be Microsoft’s largest this year.

The campaign comes when Windows and the PC market in general could use a boost. Microsoft is in a lull between versions of Windows — XP’s replacement is coming in 2006 — and PC sales are expected to be relatively slow this year.

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TV, print and online ads will show people young and old with a window over their heart, revealing various “passions.”

They direct consumers to www.windows.com, where the company will suggest software applications and hardware products to pursue their interests.

The campaign “is designed to inspire people to start something with Windows XP,” said Debbie Anderson, director of communications for Windows.

The ads also coincide with the 20th anniversary of Windows.

Partner companies and retailers are participating in the campaign, which will include displays in stores and appearances in retail stores’ ad circulars.

TV spots will begin appearing today and air during shows such as “American Idol,” “Lost” and “24.”

Ads will run in the company’s 11 largest markets around the world, tailored to different geographies. Eight of the TV ads are being produced in 59 different versions.

The campaign was created by the company’s longtime agency, McCann Erickson.

PC research

Laptops give boost to global shipments

Worldwide shipments of personal computers rose as much as 11 percent in the first quarter on sales of laptop PCs and surging demand in Europe and Africa, two market researchers said. However, PC shipments are expected to slow this year.

Shipments rose 11 percent to 46.2 million from 41.6 million a year earlier, 1 percent better than expected, Framingham, Mass.-based IDC said Friday. In a separate statement, market researcher Gartner said shipments rose 10 percent to 50.4 million in the same period.

Sales of laptop computers in the United States were less than expected because of sagging desktop PC shipments, Gartner said. PC shipments in the United States will probably rise less than the historical rates of about 12 percent in the third quarter and 3.5 percent in the fourth, IDC researcher Roger Kay said.

Microsoft

Encarta tries out letting readers edit

Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia is testing a system that lets everyone be an editor — in theory at least. Readers can suggest edits or additions to entries, although the changes are vetted before they reach the page.

Encarta is not requiring such novice editors to identify themselves, said Gary Alt, Encarta’s editorial director. But it is asking them to reveal the source of their information if possible, and the editorial staff will check for both factual errors and evidence of bias.

This is in contrast to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which lets anyone instantaneously make changes, even delete entries, regardless of whether that person has any expertise in the subject.

Intel

Dual-core PCs to be shipped out today

SAN JOSE, Calif. — After months of talking up the benefits of single chips with two computing engines instead of one, Intel said computer makers will start shipping PCs with its “dual-core” microprocessors today.

Intel’s first dual-core chip, the Pentium Extreme Edition 840, will be available in systems from Dell, Alienware and others. Intel declined to release prices, but today’s single-core Extreme Edition chips run about $1,000 each — nearly $400 more than the fastest Pentium 4.

The announcement is the culmination of an acrimonious race between Intel and archrival Advanced Micro Devices.

Web survey

Google’s Blogger is market leader

WASHINGTON — Google’s Blogger is hosting an estimated 8 million blogs, more than any of almost three dozen competing services. In second place is LiveJournal.com, with about 6.6 million accounts, according to research from Perseus Development, a Web-based survey firm.

Jeffrey Henning, chief operating officer of Perseus, said that 31.6 million Web logs have been created on hosting services, and he expects that number to grow to 53.4 million by the end of the year. The survey was based on a review of 10,000 blogs.

Compiled from Seattle times staff, Bloomberg News, MarketWatch and The Associated Press