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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  • Gary Key - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    Actually, the public release of the 8.612 betas work fine with the HD 4770. AMD made a couple of changes right before they were posted on the site. :) Reply
  • CSMR - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Best source of information on Windows 7 by far. Nice work! Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    In the article you said that the "Jump Menus" have their roots in OS X? Not at all. They've been their for years. The only example I can think of at this time is Winamp. It had a "jump menu" in Windows 98 for controlling playback. Reply
  • Axell - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Well, this is actually Windows 7 Release Candidate. There won't be a second RC, so it's "Release Candidate" only, no RC1 like the title and text suggests. Reply
  • vectorm12 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Just for the sake of argument.

    Ever thought about how long it usually takes for MS to actually make their OS:es work well? Doesn't anyone remember what a abysmal OS XP was before SP1 let alone SP2(which in my opinion was the point where I felt confident enough to upgrade from win2k). I'm starting to wonder if people have actually forgotten how much they where complaining about XP before SP1&2 or if they just don't want to remember. What about the security vulnerabilities that still plague XP? The fact that both Vista and Win7 improves on these seem to have been lost in the quest to keep XP alive.

    After all do you hear Apple users complaining about 10.5.6 being significantly slower in many respects than 10.4? The fact that 10.4 in my opinion had a bunch of features lost in 10.5 that where really useful doesn't seem to bother them half as much. In the end I think this whole discussion has become more of a "hey I'm cool for bashing Microsoft and Vista rather than keeping an open mind and actually seeing the improvements they make"

    How long did it take for Microsoft to make windows 2k a better OS than NT4.0 besides the USB support (which for the first couple of years was more or less pointless anyway).

    Windows 95 and RC2 and so on. I mean it usually takes years for MS to actually make a OS superior to the older version.

    What sets Windows7 apart from Vista in my opinion is just that.

    Windows 7 may as well be a dressed up/optimized/"insert random comment" version of Windows Vista. Sure they could have made major GUI changes and feature updates to Vista through service packs etc but the fact is that when people hear or think vista it usually equals "dog turd" or worse and usually that is because it's become cool to bash Vista. In my opinion I wouldn't hesitate to run Vista SP1 on our studio computer where I work but unfortunately most of the software required for production purposes require specific software configurations which means Vista isn't supported other than in the latest releases.

    The name change is a chance for people to try what in many ways is a vastly improved OS without having that association in mind when doing so. Sure Windows 7 is still more bloated and in certain areas probably slower than XP because of bloated code/new functions etc but the fact is Microsoft has actually taken a lot of great functionality in vista and(most likely taken inspiration from Mac OS in certain areas) and improved upon it even further.

    I for one want a Microsoft OS for my gaming computer. I can't be bothered running Linux and wine just to play WoW and run the Adobe suite. Given the choice I'm going for Win7 rather than XP or vista, it's safer, I've got performance to spare and there's nothing wrong with a little eyecandy to make things look more exciting.

    Macs are fine but to be honest I don't like OS x THAT much to pay the premium.

    Linux works perfectly on my work computer and on the servers I run at work or on my laptop that I use to surf the web.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    apart from some drivers XP has allways worked well for me (+ i was behind an router so RDP basid worms was not an problem),

    Vista is slugish and bloted for the most part and it allways will be as thay not port stuff to vista that are makeing windows 7 run far more smoother,

    i have loaded win 7 onto an amd64 3000+ 2ghz, 2gb ram, it works well there is One small bug not sure why but it thinks i got 16gb installed in an socket 754 socket lol, but lists 2gb useable (at least Win7 now Shows Both numbers useable and installed as on SP1 for vista that was an joke hideing useable ram) need to report that to MS but not sure where i submit that
    Reply
  • Lexington02 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    :face palm:
    You have 32 bit and that is not MS's fault for 32bit portion, it is pure math. Also 64 bit will always be slower than 32 bit on the same specs. Think about it, 64 is twice as big as 32 bit...
    Reply
  • Bmadd - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    If any of that was refering to my post my Thanks MS was for giving me the features i wanted and not having to go to win7. Not that they make bad products. I love the one ppl "hate" the most. PS xp needs to be laid to rest, please Reply
  • iAURA - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    I'm in the same boat as the above poster, all I will get from W7 is a "funner" GUI and DX11, but hey, there's still tons of game being released as DX9 games. Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    DX11 will be released for Vista as well. Reply

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