Microsoft’s Bob is new family member

Microsoft will launch a user-friendly product March 31 into the home computer market designed to be part of the family.Microsoft Bob, unveiled earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., will be introduced by a multimillion-dollar advertising...

Microsoft will launch a user-friendly product March 31 into the home computer market designed to be part of the family.

Microsoft Bob, unveiled earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., will be introduced by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign from Wieden & Kennedy of Portland, Ore.

Advertising specific to Canada is handled by Microsoft Canada agency Chiat/Day.

Until its release, Bob will be touring the country to appear at several public events such as home, computer and children’s shows.

Bob consists of eight home computing programs made easy to use for the entire family through cartoon characters and desktops or screens designed as changeable room settings.

The eight programs are Letter Writer, Calendar, Checkbook, Household Manager, Address Book, E-mail, Financial Guide and the GeoSafari quiz game.

System requirements for Bob are top of the line.

It works with Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, the new operating system scheduled for release in August, on computer systems with 486 or higher processors and eight megabytes of memory.

The pre-launch code name for the application was ‘Utopia,’ and, Microsoft considered names such as Essential Home and Home Base for the new product until Wieden & Kennedy came up with Bob to better reflect the social and friendly nature of the software package.

Bob’s program icons are arranged in room settings that can be personalized from a choice of more than 40 combinations.

Users can decorate the rooms, and even change the scenery outside the windows.

The computer user can also choose a personal program guide from more than a dozen Friends of Bob, cartoon character icons that are the single contact point for program choices, help and information.

Bob will retail for $129.

An add-on program that creates greeting cards and invitations, Microsoft Great Greetings, will be $29.95. PS