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Softly, softly on Windows 7

Ross O. Storey | Sept. 22, 2009
Microsofts careful customer-feedback-driven strategy appears to be paying off

Microsoft seems to be on the right track with its softly, softly approach to the launch of the new Windows 7 operating system and appears to have learnt many lessons from the much-publicised problems of Vista.

The year 2009 will certainly be a red letter one for the Redmond-based giant with the impending launches of Windows 7 (22 October), Azure and Office 2010.

Mindful of the flak caused by the Vista experience, Microsoft executives have significantly changed their launch strategy.

They invited more than 100 customers and partners to give feedback on Windows 7 early on in its development process, keen to learn from mistakes made when building Vista. They developed four new customer and partner focus groups and spent six months planning how to build Windows 7, and how to engage customers early and often in that process, before even beginning development.

Microsoft says it expanded the number of testers in its existing Technology Adoption Program from about a dozen to nearly 20, formed a Desktop Advisory Council and an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) engagement group.

Thorough consultation

It established a Windows ecosystem readiness programme and a First Wave programme of customers to deploy the beta in live environments to garner "really early insight" from customers and partners about what the final OS should look like.

Some 4,000 enterprise customers in the US, Germany, Brazil, Japan, India and China were invited to provide feedback as part of extensive research too.

This ultra-sensitive and very consultative approach seems to be paying dividends.

Microsofts general manager for Asia Pacific and Greater China customer service and support (CSS), Wing Dar Ker, in Singapore for financial year kick off meetings, said the feedback from analysts and the beta community about Windows 7 was overwhelmingly positive.

Windows 7 is faster, uses less memory, has a better interface and will be a relief to hardware as well, Wing said. We hope it will be a non-event from the support perspective and we are definitely ready and prepared, although our optimism, as always, is tempered with a bit of realism when we launch a new product.

Researcher enthusiasm

The enthusiasm about Windows 7 has even prompted research house Frost & Sullivan to trumpet that the new operating system will likely change the personal computer industry forever.

In a new discussion paper, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific VP IT practice, Martin Gilliland, a former Microsoft employee, maintains that Windows 7 represents a user-driven upgrade that breaks the link between PC OS and PC hardware upgrade cycles for the first time in the history of the PC.

This departure from tradition may force PC vendors and components suppliers, like Intel, to think of new ways to encourage PC buyers to upgrade their hardware, he said.


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