Ballmer strident over Windows 7 prospects


Ballmer strident over Windows 7 prospects

Microscope contributor

This month is going to be one of the busiest in Microsoft’s calendar for quite a while as the vendor counts the days down to the launch of Windows 7.

To get things warmed up, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, turned up in London to talk to press and customers in his own excitable and bullish style. He exuded confidence as he strolled around a meeting room in the vendor’s London offices.

Interestingly, in a presentation that whizzed by without more than a handful of slides, Windows 7 was given a very different treatment from when he was promoting Vista. If anything, the hard sell, which the chief executive is quite capable of delivering, had been ditched in favour of talking about selling a wider solution, including virtualisation and the cloud.

Ballmer gave the impression that he is confident about the prospects of Windows 7, talking not just about the thousands of downloads and pre-orders that show there is an appetite for the products, but also about the timing being right.

Microsoft believes it can show efficiency and savings at a desktop level through helping cut maintenance and support costs. It has case studies to back this up and will be pushing that message through the channel.

Ballmer responds to questions, designed no doubt to barb, about the apparent failure of Vista by pointing out it has sold almost as much as XP. But he cannot deny that the continued support for its nine year-old OS is frustrating attempts to get users onto something new.

“My hope is that in the first three to six months, any new PC you buy will come with Windows 7. It would be a shame to see people acquire Windows XP machines in 2010,” he said.

He added that Microsoft was doing all it could to bring XP to the end of its life and had made it quite clear that sticking with it was not a feasible option for the long term.

Ballmer is not alone in expecting Windows 7 to do well. Others in the channel describe the launch in a couple of weeks on the 22 October as the “blip” that the market needs to gain back some of the sales activity lost this year to the recession.

Customers are in the same positive frame of mind. Those at the Microsoft Windows 7 launch event last week wanted answers to technical questions posed to Ballmer about how to integrate the latest offerings with their legacy systems.

If the pre-launch testing downloads turn into purchases of full products; and the large corporations from the private and public sectors revealing large scale OS refresh programmes encourage others to follow; then the last few months of 2009 and the first half of 2010 look like benefitting from a Windows 7 halo effect.

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