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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  • Adul - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    MS cash reserves are actually around $26.3 billion Reply
  • snookie - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Apple's stock is dramatically higher and they have much more cash in reserve. Xbox sure in hell was designed to be profitable on both hardware and games and neither is. Microsoft knew they would lose money the 1st few years but nothing like this. It's been a total disaster for them financially.

    Investors are bullish on Microsoft? Well a lot of them aren't. Microsoft lost half its value in 2008. Half.

    Q9 has not been dismal for Apple. Biggest 2nd quarter ever in the middle of a recession. i guess that must be because of their commercials though....new iPhone coming up in June which will sell as fast as they can make them and Microsoft can't even get that blind, crippled, and dumb Windows Mobile out the door. This is a company in dire need of new leadership and middle management. Instead their answer is to rant and rave and piecemeal out development to whichever country is cheaper this week? Sound like a long term formula to success to you?
    Reply
  • chewietobbacca - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    You're kidding right? Apple's stock is higher but their market cap is worth $60 billion less because share prices don't mean sh!t. Apple has fewer shares out there hence each one is worth more, but MSFT is still worth 60billion more than AAPL, and if MSFT goes up to $24 a share again, it'll be worth even more. Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Psycho... Reply
  • Jjoshua2 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    That's good to see its performance is good in general, and its gaming is consistently higher as well. Posting from Windows 7 on my Wind Netbook FTW :)

    Any pricing news? I hope there's a great student rate.
    Reply
  • griffhamlin - Wednesday, July 15, 2009 - link

    "gaming perfs constistently higher" ???

    are you kidding ? the song remain the same ...
    Reply
  • samspqr - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    the main reason I hate vista is because it's not XP: everything looks different, I can never find what I'm looking for, so getting used to it would require an effort that doesn't seem to have any compensating advantages (I don't like fancy UIs -I still use the W2K look- and I don't really play games anymore)

    then, about windows7, I still feel it's just a re-spun new SP for vista, with a UI revision, and the only reason it's getting better reviews than the original vista is that some time has passed, so there are better drivers, and you're testing it on much more powerful hardware

    now, that Wind comment makes me wonder...

    may even I fall on this one?

    we'll see
    Reply
  • cyriene - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    I never understood how XP users say they "can never find anything in Vista."
    I'm not Windows expert, but after using my new laptop with Vista for 3 hours I knew where over 95% of the things and setting are located. And mos tof them are in the same place as XP for that matter. Control panel is the same... Start menu slightly different, but similar enough to figure out in 5 seconds. Plus if there is something you're looking for, the Vista help search actually ...HELPED me find it! I was actually suprised how well the help works. Also, if that failed a quick Google search is all it takes.
    I don't feel MS should make ever OS exactly the same with everything in the same place. It makes sense for some things to move, and it isn't hard to find them if you take 5 seconds to do that.
    Reply
  • dmpk - Saturday, May 30, 2009 - link

    I agree. I think it is easy to find stuff on Vista with a little bit of playing. The transition is same as that from Windows 98 to Windows XP... Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    I completely agree. If you can't find something in Vista and you're used to XP, it's either so unused that it was removed, or you're just not trying, at all. Reply

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