Microsoft Offerings Help Overcome Holiday Overload

REDMOND, Wash. – Nov. 24, 2010 – As Black Friday looms, Microsoft is trying to help consumers survive the holiday crunch through high-tech gift ideas, a stress-free shopping experience, and even a chance to meet St. Nick himself.

As featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things, with the Bing $1 Million Giving Challenge one click generates a $1 donation on your behalf.

The day after Thanksgiving has long marked the start of the holiday shopping season, and Black Friday has become the busiest shopping day of the year. Microsoft has been busy trying to get out the word that Bing can help shoppers “cut through the clutter this holiday season,” said Lisa Gurry, director of marketing.

“Bing can help you with your holiday decisions whether you’re looking to purchase a gift, book a trip, or find directions to the hottest restaurant in town,” Gurry said. “Whatever you want to do this holiday season, Bing can help you make great decisions and save time.”

Recently, Bing has been partnering with some of the hottest personalities in pop culture to promote its online shopping experience, Gurry said. On Monday, Oprah Winfrey featured Bing on her “Favorite Things” episode, highlighting the decision engine as one of her favorite ways to shop. Bing was promoted alongside Donors Choose, an online charity that makes it easy to help schools in need. This holiday season, Bing is partnering with to give US$1 million to schools via the Bing $1M Giving Challenge, Gurry said. Now through December 31st, anyone can visit the site and choose for Bing to donate $1 to deserving schools with a click of a button.

Microsoft is relying on the vocal harmonies of Straight No Chaser, an a cappella act known for its holiday music, to promote Bing. Last week, the group rode around New York City atop a double decker bus and belted out a new song chronicling how Bing helped them avoid holiday overload as they shopped.

Brooke Burke, of “Dancing with the Stars” fame, is also promoting the search engine by listing some of her favorite holiday gifts and tips at

Microsoft has launched a Facebook application that will make it easy for friends and family to compare gift ideas, Gurry said. “Bing shopping makes it easy for you to get the best deals this season,” she said. “You can easily check prices, create user reviews, and even create a shopping list to share your gift picks with your friends on Facebook.”

Windows and Southwest Airlines team up to treat Southwest passengers to free Holiday Photos on the Fly at 26 airports across the U.S. this December.

Meanwhile, the Windows team is spotlighting a wide range of new PCs for those shoppers looking to place a high-tech present under the tree.

“There’s a PC for every personality,” said Ben Rudolph, a senior public relations manager also known as “Ben the PC Guy.” In early December, Rudolph will host two PC Holiday Showcases in San Francisco and New York to highlight the array of machines available for consumers, which range from computers that can fit into a back pocket to ones that can be the centerpiece to a living room.

Today, there’s a corresponding PC to every lifestyle, Rudolph said. Into music? Check out the RAIN Livebook professional audio laptop, which DJ Derek Mazzone will be using to entertain event attendees. More of a gamer? Try the Origin Big O, a 130-pound behemoth that combines an Xbox 360 and a PC into one piece of hardware. (You better have been very nice to put this on your holiday wish list, though; it costs $10,000.)

A host of other PCs and laptops will be on display to illustrate how consumers can “do it all” on a Windows PC, Rudolph said. As PCs improve, so does Windows, he added. A little more than a year after the Windows 7 launch, the operating system keeps evolving, as new features like Windows Live 2011 and Internet Explorer 9 make the OS even better, he said.

In a way, the goal of the events is more than just show to off the latest and greatest PCs, Rudolph said.

“A Windows PC is increasingly central to our digital lives, whether we’re working on the road, spending time with family, or enjoying games and entertainment,” he said.

The Windows team is also partnering with Southwest Airlines and Santa Claus to offer travelers free holiday photos taken while they’re at the airport.

Starting December 2 at Southwest Airlines terminals in 26 airports across the US, families can stop and pose with Santa or a holiday background. Santa’s elves will then use Windows Live to guide customers to quickly create and print a “perfect” family photo using Windows Live Photo Gallery, PhotoMail and Photo Fuse. Once they get to where they’re going, families can also log onto and download and print additional, full-size digital copies using Windows Live SkyDrive.

“We think it will be absolutely delightful when people come through security — during a travel time that can be pretty crazy — and see this terrific experience. Both companies are very excited,” said Lisa Sikora, senior marketing manager for Windows. “It’s our way of saying thanks and Happy Holidays.”