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.

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  • Bmadd - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    I see the graphs, i see the new features and i honestly cant be the only person who doesn't want to change from my Vista x64 install? Can i? i got a dual core and 4gig of ram, a dash of tweaks and moving the pagefile and everything loads within a second of running. I personally dont see how going from vista to 7 for me can be a thought when there gonna give me the only thing i care for in 7 and thats DirectX11 and the new aero features. Thanks MS Reply
  • Sazar - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Why not?

    It's free to use and try. If you don't like it, go back.

    I have switched both my HTPC and my main rig to Windows 7 simply because it is a more efficient way for me to work. The homegroups sharing features is miles better than the old, archaic sharing method and the new Media Center interface is fantastic.

    Also, Windows 7 loaded up all the drivers I needed by default, including both of my Hauppauge TV Tuner drivers and it just worked.

    I see a lot of naysayers nit-picking, which is fine. However, I have yet to see anyone point out anything meaningful that should disuade people from either using Vista or Windows 7.

    Btw, for me, the biggest selling feature, beyond the vastly improved 10 foot interface in MCE, was Aero Peak. Can't go back to Vista now without that functionality :)
    Reply
  • Bmadd - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Well i have never really used gadgets, widgets and such. There not for me like myspace and twitter aren't for me. I would hate to change to win7 after setting me vista install up so nicely only to not like it and have to spend time getting it back to the sleak thing it is at the moment.

    Perhaps i will download the RC and just keep it there till Win7 is released and drivers are all sweet, install RC on a new hard drive and go from there but i am fair to pleased with my current vista install to consider changing
    Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    not a single feature that i want or even care about. how about a good competent fast image viewer? more drm? giant icons? no classic ui? terrible. just give me a smaller, faster, stronger and more efficient xp or gtfo ms. Reply
  • TonkaTuff - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Microsoft should count themselves very lucky that Apple remains uninterested in being the OS for everyone and restrict themselves to the premium OS and hardware market.

    Yeah Snookie Im sure apple holds themseves back from over 90% of the O/S market based on there morals and lack of interest in making more money. What kind of deranged fanboy are you? Comments like the one above show how brainwashed some of you looney tunes are becoming.
    It really is scary and you should seek professional help.

    A comment in the article really hit the nail on the head,

    MANY PEOPLE SAY THEY HATE VISTA BUT FEW CAN ACTUALLY SAY WHAT THEY HATE ABOUT IT.

    Yeah Vista had issues when it first was released, it was a major step from the XP O/S but that was 2 bloody years ago. Ive been running Vista on my Gaming rig and my Work Laptop and a server/seed box and in 12 months I havnt had 1 crash that was the O/S's fault, Not one crash, not one BSOD, probably 4 or 5 freeze ups that had to be end tasked in 12 months on 3 systems numbering well over a 1000 hours of use, not even XP could claim to be that stable.

    Like any O/S it has its annoyances, they all do (yes snookie even your precious mac).

    Do I expect Win7 to be much different from Vista? No not really, I expect it will be a dressed up and refined version of Vista.

    Why would Microshaft do such a thing, they just want more money, why not release it as a service pack for Vista?
    BECAUSE THEY HAD TO CHANGE THE NAME AND MAKE IT OUT TO BE DIFFERENT FROM VISTA BACAUSE OF ALL THE LEMMINGS OUT THERE THAT HATE VISTA BUT DONT KNOW WHY THEY HATE IT!!!!!!!!!!!

    End of rant.......Snookie you sir are a sychotic applemac fanboi, get help for god sake.
    Reply
  • squeezee - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Microsoft has said to developers (at PDC at least) that Direct2D and DirectWrite along with the rest of DirectX 11 functionality will be available on windows Vista. Reply
  • fendell - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Has anyone tested Windows 7 and Ventrilo (any version) over some time?

    It's the only thing that keeps me on 64bit XP at the moment, because ventrilo has this weird behaviour on windows 7 where it suddenly doesnt recieve data for 2-5 minutes, then suddenly gets everything at once, this is veery frustrating and in fact raidbreaking in wow ;)
    Reply
  • nycromes - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    I have also used Windows 7 RC for WoW raiding and have had no major issues. Ensure you are running it as an administrator. I had a few issues before doing that, but none like you are describing. I am using a USB microphone and a standard soundcard speaker combination with no issue.
    Reply
  • vectorm12 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    I use ventrilo for wow a couple of times per week, at times for hours without any issues on build 7077x64(correct me if I'm wrong, found on piratebay.org btw). However I do use a USB connected wireless Microsoft headset(looks like the 360 one but grey) which might have some impact as it works like a second soundcard. Reply
  • snookie - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    If you think XP is the best OS ever then you haven't used very many. It is archaic.

    "The biggest news is that the Ultimate/Business/Home Premium schism has been resolved with Windows 7."

    This is a pretty amazing statement seeing as how it took a further paragraph to partly but not fully describe what all the versions are for.

    The Start Menu remains a horrible user interface designed by committee. Just awful.

    Windows 7! Now with even more DRM!!!

    UAC is an attempt to place responsibility for security too much on the user which is why it was so intrusive. A certain amount of user action is reasonable but UAC went far beyond that.

    WTF, why does IE 8 take up so much space with its headers? Seriously Microsoft do you have no idea at all about usability? Slapping a ribbon interface on a simple text processor is just dumb.

    Mail, Calendar, and Movie Maker might as well have been removed because they suck. But their removal points out even more how Microsoft needs its own version of iLife.

    ISO implementation is so Microsoft. Half-ass as usual.

    Why does Windows 7 need a disk defragmenter in 2009? No other modern OS does.

    Virtual Windows XP? Is this a joke? Probably won't run on older machines which is where it is needed most and even more headaches for desktop admins for configuration and administration.

    Why would you do performance testing on an SSD drive which very few desktop boxes have these days?

    Looks like Windows 7 will suck on laptops as much as Vista does. Not good news since so many notebooks are sold these days.

    My recommendation to Corporations is that for the 95% of users who need basic functionality they replace Windows entirely with a locked down Linux of some form. Many that I have worked with are considering this very thing and I have no doubt the Windows 7 will hasten this decision. XP requires far too intensive support ( yes i know your handbuilt game tower never has to be rebooted with XP, sure it doesn't).

    Microsoft should count themselves very lucky that Apple remains uninterested in being the OS for everyone and restrict themselves to the premium OS and hardware market and that an unrestricted Linux desktop is still to complicated for most users. more and more companies are providing their high end IT Architects and Developers with Macs and they are happily snapping them up. I have seen this at Cisco, Oracle, Motorola, and may others. When Visual Studio using .NET developers would rather use a VM on OS X t do their development there is something very wrong and I'm seeing a lot of that.

    The authors really do not understand the relationship between development tools, threads, the kernel, and processor usage.
    Reply

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