In less than a month since its launch on October 22, over 2,000 Indian companies are in the process of installing Microsoft’s latest operating system (OS), Windows 7. The companies include major IT companies like Infosys, Wipro, NIIT, car companies like Maruti and even the Bangalore airport, and Manipal University, besides many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), according to Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president, OEM.
“We also see a reasonable amount of Windows XP (which has been around for eight years) on machines. We expect the natural refresh cycle over the next 12-24 months,” says Guggenheimer. Microsoft has tied up with 17 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India. During the launch, the company had set a target of having Windows 7 installed on over 100 personal computer (PC) models.
All major PC manufacturers in the country, including HP, HCL, Acer and Dell, among others, have come forward to offer the new OS with their range of desktops and laptops. “We have reached around 80 PC models. The target is well within our reach,” he asserts.
Windows 7 has five versions priced between Rs 5,800 and Rs 11,000. The starter edition is cheaper but is not available on shelves (only through OEMs). And the Windows 7 versions are 25-35 per cent cheaper than comparable versions of Windows Vista.
So, what did Microsoft do right with Windows 7 that it did “wrong” with Vista? “Vista was good for security. And while its acceptance was not as good as XP, users forget that it had a very good core model. Windows 7 has been built on that framework, hence it’s so robust. As for Vista, we did have compatibility issues. Besides, there was probably too much hype versus the delivery on our part. This also explains our low-key launch of Windows 7,” says Guggenheimer.
Windows 7, he adds, “has undergone a lot of work which explains its success”. For instance, there were 8 million data testers for the OS, and Microsoft conducted around 16,000 interviews from around 100 cities. “We also worked very hard with our partners to set things right, and ensure that the user experience is complete,” explains Guggenheimer.
So, what was the feedback? First, he says, was the fact that the partners wanted the PC to have good security, and boot quickly. They also wanted the navigation to be easy. “This explains why Windows 7 has easy navigation from a corporate network to a home network. Currently, you have to use a virtual private network or VPN which is expensive. With Windows 7, you can use our ‘tunneling’ technology with lowers costs,” says Guggenheimer.
Microsoft also received feedback from its partners that the “battery life should be extended since notebooks sell more than desktops”. Mobility is the key, hence battery life is important, acknowledges Guggenheimer. “We worked with our partners who now say that the battery life with Windows 7 can extend from 6-12 hours,” he says.
On the media entertainment front, Windows 7 makes watching videos and internet TV easily accessible. “With our premium version, you can pretty much do what our mediacentre PCs did — sharing media, watching videos and effectively making a TV on your PC,” says Guggenheimer.
Windows 7, says the company, is also picking up in the retail market, which accounts for around 10 per cent of all sales. But Guggenheimer does not give any numbers. “All I can say is the experience is too exciting,” he says, adding: “We have received a lot of positive consumer and partner feedback globally.”
Meanwhile, to accelerate its sales, Microsoft is offering its customers who have existing enterprise ‘Volume Licensing’ agreements to access Windows 7 from the second half of August 2009. Microsoft does not charge for the licence. The Software Assurance (SA) offer is an offer for an upgrade license to Windows 7 Professional purchased through Volume Licensing.
For customers who do not have this agreement, Microsoft is providing them an option to upgrade to Windows 7, through a limited time customer promotion of 15 per cent off the price of the Windows 7 Professional upgrade price. The offer is available until end of December 2009. Any PC with a qualifying operating system such as Windows Vista Business or Windows XP Professional is eligible, regardless of when it was purchased. However, it requires a minimum purchase of 50 licenses of Windows 7 upgrade versions. Besides, there is a Windows 7 Enterprise 90-Day trial version.