How Consumers Get What They Seek from Microsoft

REDMOND, Wash. and LAS VEGAS, Nev., Jan. 8, 2004 — From the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft today announced its Digital Image Suite 9 and Encarta Reference Library 2004 are now backed by Good Housekeeping’s Seal. The Good Housekeeping Seal is one of the most recognized and trusted consumer insignias in the United States and has been granted to high-quality products for nearly 100 years. According to Good Housekeeping, Microsoft is a pioneer in exceeding consumers’ expectations for technology products. Today’s announcement marks the first time educational and digital imaging consumer software have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal. In 2002, MSN earned the Seal’s backing, the first Internet software to receive the recognition.

Lisa Brummel , corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Home Products Division the group responsible for developing these consumer software titles spoke with PressPass about her group’s goal to provide innovative products that help weave today’s diverse technologies into a seamless computing experience.

PressPass: You oversee worldwide product development for a large and varied group of retail products that range from consumer software for the home, such as Works Suite, to the company’s new Wireless-G broadband networking devices. What is your vision for this group?

Lisa Brummel: We have a dynamic group of programmers and designers – and even a few ergonomists – which continually works to ensure that our product integrity exceeds consumer’s expectations. Our group is focused on creating products that are easy to use and practical around the home, allowing our customers to get more out of their PC experience. We’ve also turned out award-winning products that have a faithful following, such as Microsoft Encarta Reference Library, our multimedia reference software, and Digital Image Suite 9, our digital photo editing software. Both earned the Good Housekeeping seal this year. Another example is Flight Simulator, a popular PC game title we have produced for more than 20 years. It recently played a role in the 100-year anniversary celebration of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s historic flight at Kitty Hawk. At the end of the day, our goal is to continue to push ourselves to develop new ways for consumers to use technology to further enrich their lives.

PressPass: Microsoft’s commitment to the consumer space seems stronger than it has ever been, with the introduction of several new consumer products and services at CES such as SPOT, Windows Automotive & Auto Business Unit, Windows Media, and MSN Premium. How committed is Microsoft to the Home Products Division?

Lisa Brummel: The Home Products Division has been a successful business for Microsoft for more than 20 years, and in that time, we’ve learned a lot. We are continuing to grow the consumer products and services in this division — and across Microsoft — by looking back at our many experiences and key learnings. The need for PC software is not going away, and by introducing new products and services and extending our presence on the Internet, for instance with MSN’s Encarta Reference Library Premium, Microsoft has a greater opportunity to expand and grow both new and existing categories of consumer software. These categories offer home PC users more opportunities to maximize the potential of their PC and enhancing their experience.

Microsoft Digital Image Suite 9 and Encarta Reference Library 2004 are now backed by Good Housekeeping’s Seal. Click image for high-res version.

PressPass: Tell us more about Home Products Division.

Lisa Brummel: You may not realize it, but our group first began developing products in the early 80’s, starting back in 1982 with our first PC Flight Simulator software. We also launched our first mouse in 1983, and our reference software, Encarta, was introduced about 10 years ago. To put our group into perspective, we have become roughly the same size as Revlon cosmetics, with about a billion dollars (U.S.) in annual sales. In little more than 20 years the Home Products Division has grown from offering a single PC software title with Flight Simulator, to become one of Microsoft’s most important divisions, with quality products spanning mice and keyboards, broadband networking, PC Games, and home software for the Windows and Macintosh platforms.

The Home Products Division is also helping to pioneer the idea of “seamless computing,” Microsoft’s efforts to use the power of software to create technology that works as a coordinated whole, helping consumers get more out of life. A great example of this would be Microsoft Streets & Trips a product which takes the basic idea of creating a map to the next level by providing a mapping and navigation software solution which allows our customers to plot trips with their own points of interest and even download maps to their Pocket PCs without having to log on to the Web. By providing different ways to access and interact with digital information across a variety of devices, we’re creating technology that supports the digital lifestyle we see more and more consumers embracing.

PressPass: What is the Home Products Division’s long-term strategy? With consumer technology innovations moving beyond PC-based software, where are the areas of growth for the consumer software market?

Lisa Brummel: Microsoft is strongly committed to delivering innovative products for consumers while also supporting a vibrant PC marketplace, even where it extends beyond the PC. For example, an area of growth in the industry is digital imaging. This is a category poised for explosive growth, with more than 78 billion digital images captured last year. The research firm IDC estimated that by the end of 2003, 119 billion digital images were created by scanner, digital still camera, and camera phones.

According to IDC, the figure will soar to 577 billion by 2007, a compound growth rate of more than 50 percent.

Looking at the rapid expansion of digital imaging that includes both PC and beyond-PC technologies, we’re focused on offering software that inspires new ways to use technology, whether it’s the basic functionality of Picture It! or the professional-grade editing and organizational tools customers are looking for in Digital Image Suite 9. Microsoft is always looking for ways to ensure that customers have more choices. We continue to use our experiences to develop and deliver the most useful products for consumers in the PC and beyond-PC marketplace.

PressPass: Digital imaging is a hot topic this year, and a big focus of CES. How does Microsoft fit into this picture, and what are your long-term goals for this category?

Lisa Brummel: Across Microsoft’s consumer products, you will see support for digital imaging, whether in Office XP, Plus! Digital Media Edition, Windows Media Center Edition, or in our suite of digital-imaging software. We will continue to talk to our customers to determine ways to evolve the products to meet their needs as they evolve their digital imaging use. We use research to develop products and technologies which support changing consumer needs, and we track the industry to watch for developing trends to ensure we are delivering the right products at the right times.

PressPass: Where do you see the trends in growth for all your products?

Lisa Brummel: Obviously, Microsoft is focused on the potential of wireless technology being able to access your information from any place, any time. Whether it’s reading your e-mail in one of the thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots now available or getting rid of desktop clutter with wireless keyboards and mice, people are looking for wireless devices that help extend the digital lifestyle they’re accustomed to. We’re also looking to develop and hone new ways to play – people of all ages are turning to gaming for a source of entertainment. Did you know the average online PC gamer isn’t a teenaged boy? Most people would be surprised to know that, according to Microsoft’s own research, 67 percent of the players are women, and the average age is 34.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re also paying close attention to the digital imaging space recent analyst predictions indicated one in three U.S. households will have a digital camera by the end of 2003. The advances in that category are quickly growing, and digital imaging software is no exception. Editing has moved beyond the basics, such as red-eye reduction, into the professional-grade. We’re proud to say we’ve been leading the industry in development of these innovative editing and organizational tools.

PressPass: Speaking personally, how does Microsoft technology affect your life?

Lisa Brummel: Interesting question. Of course I use technology on a daily basis while at work. Both e-mail and wireless Internet access have become a way of life at Microsoft. But one way I really enjoy using technology is by helping my daughter with her homework. We use Microsoft’s MSN Instant Messenger while I’m at work so I can help her with her school work. For example, she’ll send me her finished math homework using Microsoft technology so we can look at her math equations together. She also loves the interactive content on Encarta Reference Library and I love its homework tools. I can’t tell you the last time I had to write a research paper, so the great templates in Encarta help kick start her projects.

PressPass: You yourself are an award-winneras the recent recipient of Yale’s George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award. This honor, the highest of the Yale Athletic Department, recognizes alumni who played a sport while at Yale and went on to make significant contributions to society after graduating. Congratulations. Do you find it challenging to be a woman executive at Microsoft?

Lisa Brummel : Thank you. I was honored to receive that recognition from my alma mater. Yes, my job can be challenging, but I think it’s challenging to be a woman executive at any major corporation. Do I face more challenges than my male co-workers? I don’t think so. They’re just different challenges, but there are also a lot of opportunities that I simply wouldn’t have anywhere but Microsoft. I’m very excited about the work we’ve been doing at the company to draw superb women executives to Microsoft. Over the past year we’ve brought in senior executives from IBM (Tanya Clemons), AT & T (Maria Martinez), and a number of other influential companies. I enjoy working and learning from these women and am excited about this move forward by our company.

On the product side, our recent recognition from Good Housekeeping is only one example of Microsoft’s commitment to providing products and technologies which help consumers realize their potential, and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.

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