With quiet hoopla, Microsoft has changed its logo for the first time in a quarter of a century. The change signals an iterative leap forward for the grandfather of software, founded 37 years ago by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The charge will be led by Xbox 360, with a supporting role by the Windows phone.
The timing coincides with the upcoming elections and Microsoft’s push to embrace a younger, broader demo through its “Election 2012 on Xbox LIVE” hub on the Xbox 360 dashboard, set to launch August 27th as the GOP convention gets under way in Tampa.
Microsoft is making good on its earlier promise to make Xbox 360 a "media center." Through Xbox Live, users can participate in a daily polls via YouGov, register to vote through Rock the Vote, brush up on background information with Face the Facts USA, and watch the presidential debates and the Republican and Democratic National Conventions live, with coverage from NBC News.
A survey commissioned by Microsoft through StrategyOne estimates that about 40 percent of Xbox users are swing voters, giving the innovative platform real-world clout, with U.S.-based Xbox LIVE members part of a worldwide community of more than 40 million.
Issues ranked most important by Xbox Swing Voters include unemployment and jobs (39 percent), healthcare (29 percent). and taxes (22 percent). Nearly one quarter (23 percent) check-in on political news daily.
“Technology has been a transformative force in politics during recent years,” said Fred Humphries, government affairs vice president at Microsoft. “The launch of the Election 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE marks another exciting moment of change… By bringing the elections directly into the home through this Xbox platform, we hope to encourage greater participation in the democratic process this fall.”
In addition to online voter registration, Rock the Vote will engage the Xbox LIVE community with exclusive musical content in a second partnership with Microsoft, following a highly successful virgin flight in 2008 which drove tens of thousands of new registrations.
“There’s a growing audience of individuals getting their election information solely from online platforms; Microsoft has set itself apart by providing for its users a level of content and interactivity that’s second to none,” said Chrissy Faessen, marketing and communications vice president at Rock the Vote.
Google’s YouTube Elections Hub and Twitter's Political Index, along with Microsoft’s Election 2012 on Xbox LIVE, have made this the first “socialection.”
“We want to provide our passionate Xbox LIVE community with a great way to experience the election process with TV that makes them participants — and not just viewers,” said Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “This is a great example of how our Xbox capabilities are making the promise of interactive television a reality.”
All in, it’s a clear sign that the November 2012 elections will be televised, digitized and perhaps lost or won – with significant web participation – which in today’s wired world, is de rigueur political representation.