Microsoft: We See Windows 7?

June 22, 2008

As Windows XP is reaching the last months of its marketing life, after several extensions due to consumer demand, is it finally time for Windows Vista to shine? Speculation says, unlikely. Windows Vista, despite its various upgrades and improvements over its XP predecessor, has been underwhelming in the market. Consumers still “downgrade” new computers to Windows XP, from Vista. What image does that give to a product, when the predecessor is in more demand?

Now, just as Vista has a chance to market itself as the latest generation of Windows, free of any other versions on the market, Bill Gates lets it be known that Windows 7, the next “latest generation” of the operating system will be slated for release by early 2010. It is no surprise that Microsoft R&D is continuously working on the next version of Windows, that is to be expected. What seems unwise is to start marketing a new operating system when people are still enamored with XP, which was originally released in 2001.

To be fair to Microsoft, the Windows operating system is produced to be compatible with a very wide array of computer models and variations. To ensure complete compatibility and integration is no easy feat, but Microsoft does an admirable job of it, albeit far from perfect. Unlike their competitor Apple Computers, Microsoft makes the operating system for countless computer manufacturers, unlike Apple’s operating system, which is entirely proprietary to their computers. Were Vista to capitalize on this key difference, it is possible the brand could be salvaged before Windows 7 takes the limelight.

Microsoft’s current ad campaign of “We See” helps depict their usability in such a diverse market. This aligns correctly with the diverse options for the Windows Vista operating system. Unfortunately, this diversity of options can also confuse the consumer. Which version is best suited for each customer? Each version needs to be clearly defined to differentiate from the other versions available. XP also offers a choice of versions, but they are fewer and more clearly defined than Vista. Microsoft needs to ensure that each product they market is properly marketed towards the appropriate consumer. Otherwise, the consumer will fall back to other options, like downgrading to XP.

In most consumers’ eyes, Windows Vista was a flop that was rushed, poorly supported, and still has compatibility issues even after the release of a service pack, which fixes such issues. If Microsoft could clearly define Vista’s brand, separating it from XP and Windows 7, it is possible that this brand can be saved. By investing in more reliable customer support and solving compatibility issues, Microsoft Vista has the ability to be the operating system that all the hype claimed it could be. With Microsoft’s brand image at stake, it would seem more logical to make Vista earn some respect rather than sweep it under the rug until 2010.

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