Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

START exploring, discovering, learning… How this piece of tech revolutionized how we use computers today [Monday Marketing Marvels]

June 1, 2020

Computers have come a long way to become what they are today.

What used to be a computing machine reserved for scientists and mathematicians can now be found in millions of households worldwide.

But the personal computer didn’t used to be this user-friendly.

One company changed things up to achieve the level of tech we know today…


Microsoft was founded in 1975, but only entered the operating system business in 1980.

During the late 80s and early 90s, the company emerged as leaders in computer technology.

At that time, computers were becoming increasingly versatile. But the more tasks the computers could execute, the more complicated it became to use.

People who weren’t tech savvy had a hard time performing basic tasks and functions using it.

Microsoft understood this problem.

What good is a personal computer if consumers couldn’t use it?

As a solution, Microsoft introduced Windows.

Compared to other systems available in the early 90s, the Windows product line was known for user-friendly interfaces and features.

Each new version Microsoft introduced had new improvements and features (Calendar, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint…).

Some of these features are still being used and updated today!

Microsoft continued to improve their Windows operating system until they developed and launched one of their most successful products.

Windows 95.

Not only did this have greatly improved features (more on that in a bit) but it was also at the center of one of the company’s most successful marketing campaigns.

Start Me Up!

The goal: To promote Windows 95 to as many customers as possible!

Even during the release of earlier Windows systems, computers were mostly seen as machines used in schools and offices.

Microsoft wanted to change that. They wanted people to use computers even at their own homes!

To do that, they knew they had to focus first on user experience and to make it really easy for everyone to use.

Thus the iconic “Start” button was born.

This button made it so much easier for users to spot all the important applications and features in just a few clicks!

This feature’s ease of use gave Microsoft the edge over the competition. It has since become a standard feature in all Windows editions.

“Start” was not just a button in Windows 95 (or in succeeding updates for that matter).

It was also a word associated with Microsoft’s branding.

In a commercial they made to promote the product, they used the classic Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up” as they showed what you could do with Windows 95.

The commercial showed people from different walks of life using computers equipped with Windows 95.

From students doing research in school to an employee using his laptop during a commute to a kid discovering something new… ANYONE can use Windows 95!

“Start exploring”

“Start discovering”

“Start learning”

“Start doing”

“Start organizing”

“Start connecting”

“Start managing”

“Start creating”

“Start playing”

“Start moving”

“Start Windows 95”

The marketing campaign was unlike any other for a computer system.

Microsoft promoted it as a product for everyone.

They delivered a strong message that resonated with consumers.

In fact, thousands of people lined up in computer stores to buy the latest operating system during its August 24, 1995 launch.

This was unheard of for a tech product at that time!

At its launch, 1 million Windows 95 products were shipped in less than 4 days.

A total of 40 million products were sold in its first year!

Microsoft also generated a net income of USD 1.453 billion in 1995, which only increased in the next 5 years.

  • 1996 – USD 2.2 billion
  • 1997 – USD 3.5 billion
  • 1998 – USD 4.5 billion
  • 1999 – USD 7.8 billion
  • 2000 – USD 9.4 billion

It was not just a sales win for Microsoft. The features that made Windows 95 a success were used in future operating systems.

Improved versions such as Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10, to name a few.

Microsoft’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers

Microsoft makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a phenomenal earning power generator.

So, how well has Microsoft been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results much higher than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent Microsoft’s earning power (Uniform Return On Assets). These numbers have been positive, going over 25% for the past 16 years.

The global ROA average is just 6%

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, you won’t see the 34% Uniform ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) for 2019. You’d just see the company report less than that, at 10% as-reported ROA.

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Their returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that they have been doing well and making a profit.

With a popular line of hardware and software, they remain leaders in the technology industry.

Microsoft is even one of the most valuable companies in the world.

While the 1995 operating system is vastly outdated and obsolete in today’s standards, it remains a widely influential product that helped shape Microsoft’s success in the next two decades.

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy.

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies.

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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