Marketing Windows 7: The New Efficiency

Microsoft returns to tried-and-true strategy

For all the feel good vibes around Windows 7 this year, it's interesting to me that Microsoft is essentially returning to an old and time-tested routine when it comes to marketing this product to businesses.

Instead of touting new UIs or other flashy new features, the company is preaching a variant of the "do more with less mantra" from a few years back.

It's called "The New Efficiency" and it's a sobering reminder that the economy is still in the toilet, businesses and individuals are still holding back on spending, and the downward spiral continues. It highlights what a tough time it is for Microsoft to be launching the best product lineup in its history.

I've noted Microsoft CEO Steve's Ballmer's take on the economy before, and it still seems correct to me. He said earlier this year that he expected the economy to "reset," but that after the reset, it would not return to the previous unsustainable levels.

This notion has now been formalized by Microsoft as "the new normal," and according to Ballmer, it's the result of a fundamental shift in the economy over the past year.

"After years of economic expansion fueled by unrealistic rates of consumption and unsustainable levels of private debt, the global economy has reset at a lower baseline level of activity," Ballmer wrote in a letter to customers last week.  "Today, people borrow less, save more, and spend with much greater caution."

That's not exactly an award-winning open to a sales pitch. But in many ways, what Microsoft is indeed offering at this time of great economic despair is a set of products that, in his words, "can enable organizations to operate more efficiently, more effectively, and more strategically as they respond to the new normal by moving toward the new efficiency."

We discussed Microsoft's business case for a good/better/best series of products that include Windows 7, Windows Server 08 R2, Microsoft Desktop Optimization (MDOP) 2009 R2, and more a few weeks back ("Banging the Drum for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2," September 15).

These and other products, and the technologies they expose, can help organizations save money by improving end-user efficiency, reducing costs, improving performance and power management, and enabling anytime-anywhere work scenarios.

Building on the previous message, Microsoft is highlighting some interesting early adopters, including Windows Vista holdout Intel, which is apparently racing to deploy Windows 7.

Ford Motor Company is adopting Windows 7 and Exchange 2010. Convergent Computing is saving $40,000 in annual spending by eliminating a VPN product and moving to Server 08 R2 with DirectAccess. Baker Tilly is saving $160 per PC by moving 2000 desktops in 110 countries to Windows 7.

All of this rings rather hollow, however, until you can analyze the costs and benefits of migrating to any of these new technologies yourself. Additionally, Microsoft's deployment tools, while updated for the new products, aren't really changing. It's all there for the taking. You just have to take the first step.

In Ballmer's words, those that do so will be met with a "surge in productivity and a flowering of innovation." I'm not ready to get that excited about it, but of course I don't have anything to sell you.

I can vouch for the fact that Windows 7, Server 2008 R2, and MDOP 2009 R2 are the best yet, as Microsoft claims, and together they represent an impressive set of technologies that would benefit IT departments, users, and organizations.

Will this technology actually save you money? That would be a new efficiency indeed.


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