Windows 7: A New Marketing Approach

Microsoft’s new strategy to achieve this starts with how they are handling the Windows 7 development process. Microsoft believes that they’ve met all their technical goals in solving Vista’s problems and undesirable quirks, and they want to let the world know before someone else (i.e. Apple) tells the world otherwise. There’s a very specific marketing strategy in place to make this happen that’s focusing on users and the press alike, and before we dive into the technical matters it’s here we’d like to start.

For dealing with the press, Microsoft hit the ground running. Back in October of 2008 they invited most of the major press to come see the latest Windows 7 Community Technical Preview builds (more or less an alpha build). We weren’t able to attend this due to scheduling issues, but as far as the event was concerned it was a success: the press that attended were speaking highly of Windows 7. And they hadn’t even seen everything.

Besides directly courting the press, Microsoft has been making sure that there’s always something new to talk about, so that the press doesn’t stop talking. While Microsoft had previously discussed the new Windows 7 GUI and taskbar, the CTP builds did not contain these items. So when Beta 1 shipped with these items finally activated, it gave the press something to talk about even if they had previously reported on the CTP builds. Microsoft has continued with this strategy even after Beta 1 by still holding back features (hey guys, betas are supposed to be feature complete). Only now with RC1 are they showing off everything, so the press once again gets something new to talk about: Virtual Windows XP.

With the press thoroughly impressed with Windows 7, the focus becomes the users. There’s no better way to prove you’ve done something than to actually show everyone, so that’s exactly what Microsoft has done. While Windows betas have always been somewhat open, Microsoft had made the unprecedented move of making the Windows 7 betas wide open. Anyone that wants to try Windows 7 can, with no strings attached. Technical users have had no problem “acquiring” development releases before, but this opens up tasting and testing to anyone that can install the OS.


Marketing is in full swing before the OS even ships

Thus far Microsoft’s new strategy has been working well. By all measures the press is abuzz about Windows, and when Microsoft released Beta 1 to the public it resulted in a complete meltdown of their download servers. With no snark intended, Microsoft has clearly found an effective marketing strategy. If Windows 7 were to struggle like Vista, it wouldn’t be due to the marketing.

This brings us to today. Microsoft has rapidly blown through the beta process, and after just one official beta release they’re ready to certify Windows 7 for release candidate status. This marks the second public build of Windows 7, and will likely be an even bigger occasion than Beta 1. Release candidates are feature complete and are supposed to be good enough to ship, and at the very least should be good enough for daily use.

We’ve only had Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 for a few days now, so we’ve been scrambling to put together a guide on its features and performance in anticipation of what we expect many of you will be asking today: is it any good? Bear in mind that with performance subject to change between now and its release date this isn’t a top-to-bottom guide, but it’s something that should answer everyone’s burning questions about Windows 7’s performance while they install it.

Finally, Microsoft has continued to be tight-lipped on how long the release candidate stage will last. With respect to when Windows 7 will go gold, all they have said is that they are shooting for no later than three years after Vista, which would be February of 2010. However, it’s just about the worst kept secret inside Microsoft right now that they want to get it out in time for the holidays. It took four months before they were ready to certify it as a release candidate – it may be even less before it’s considered done. We would be surprised to see another release candidate if the beta process is anything to go by.

Index 7?
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  • Jman13 - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    I installed the x64 version of RC1 last night. Painless install, and VERY fast. Much faster than my XP install. I'm talking about actual usage of the computer, not the install (though that was fast too). I skipped Vista, but Win7 really looks to be a very good OS. Some of the usability features in Win7 are really nice (half screen docking to the side, for instance. I'm now using RC1 as my main OS, and likely will stay that way until the actual release, where I will finally upgrade from XP.

    I'm very pleased.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Mine also went completely as planned last night. I loaded it onto my Dell XPS420 on a spare 160GB HD I had in there.

    Painless, flawless, and runs like a dream (as does Vista, so that was to be expected).

    Loaded the 185 drivers from nVidia for my 8800GT 512MB, installed Left 4 Dead (and Steam), and played for an hour without any issues at all.

    Lovin' the new UI. Hopefully it gets even cooler when the retail release comes out, but I doubt they'll make any drastic changes by then as there would be lots of RC users taken aback.

    Great work so far, M$. Keep it up.

    ~Jackattak
    Reply
  • Grandpa - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    I absolutely hate the menu in Win 7. 3 to 4 clicks to open a program that would only take 1 click in XP or Vista. Also, in Control Panel, there is no option for the Classic look there. I don't see any performance boost over Vista whatsoever. There just isn't a good reason to pay good money for this. Linux is a much better value. Reply
  • Jman13 - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    There's an option for the classic look. Just change the view to large or small icons in the upper right corner. Reply
  • Grandpa - Monday, May 11, 2009 - link

    It isn't just the look. When you hover over the folder you want to open, it doesn't open unless you click ( even though the option for that to happen is checked ).

    PS: I have used Linux. It's just a little difficult to play the games I like playing with it.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Oh look a linux fanboy bashing Win7. Like your've even fucking tried it. Reply
  • HellcatM - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    I thought Vista was ok, I liked the start menu and it just bets better with Windows 7. I find things just as easy as well, if not easier because I can just type in the search.

    I think setting up a network, wireless and a printer is much easier too. I haven't tested home network because I don't have two computers computers to test it on. I like the idea though.

    The UI I like, the launch bar is good. I'm just wondering if Microsoft is going to do a UI change for the gold release. My thought is they know that since they did an open beta they way they did where anyone can use it, that people at Apple are going to be looking at it really closely and they'll make changes to Mac OS. With a UI change it'll give a curveball to Apple. Maybe MS has a major jaw dropping UI change. I just don't think their going to take a chance that Apple is going to test Win 7 and not make changes to their own. I know if I were Apple I would.

    I think Windows 7 is ready now. Its a strong OS and I haven't had any major problems. Its quick, has some nice features, and it looks nice.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    Loved it. I have downloaded both the x64 and x86 versions and will be installing them tonight.

    My one comment on OS brands (I use all of them for one thing or another at work and at home):

    When Apple has a serious market share in the personal computing world and can truly develop an operating system for use on hardware from thousands (millions?) of different manufacturers, THEN (and only then) Microsoft will have a problem. Until then, Microsoft will continue to rule the planet, complainers and whiners be damned.

    Apple has no serious market share in the home or business.
    Linux is for computer professionals and tinkerers.
    Microsoft is for the other 97% of the world.

    :D

    ~Jackattak
    Reply
  • DrRap - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    windows has left the building guys
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVM32aEABGY&fea...">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVM32aEABGY&fea...
    Reply
  • Techno Pride - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    I don't get it. It's just an OS, a tool. Does it really matter what brand of hammer you use?

    Shouldn't it matter more whether any tangible results are produced using whatever tools are available?
    Reply

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