As Windows 8 Approaches, Microsoft Pushes Windows 7 Sales

As Windows 8 buzz grows louder, Microsoft is working overtime to ensure OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and partners continue to focus on Windows 7 sales. Indeed, Peter Han (pictured), GM of Microsoft's U.S. OEM group, spent an hour with The VAR Guy in Manhattan this week. The discussion focused around the ongoing Windows 7 upgrade opportunity, and first-time server opportunities.

Han is a nine-year Microsoft veteran who previously focused on server licensing strategies; PC industry forecasting; and various partner-centric roles. His current role blankets 14 multinational partners, 110 managed local partners, seven distributors and 18,000 other channel partners.

The challenge for Han: Microsoft's Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) is likely the company's biggest product launch year in history -- with Windows 8 plus major Office and Windows Server upgrades in the pipeline. Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill is rallying partners around the new efforts. Generally speaking, buzz about Windows 8 has been positive, and overall Windows sales dipped a bit in Microsoft's most recent quarterly results.

Mind If I Ask?

For the meeting with Han, The VAR Guy arrived with multiple Windows 8 questions -- several of which were offered up by Jeff James, an industry news analyst at Windows IT Pro. Among James' inquiries:
  • Will any functionality be removed from Windows 8 when it runs on netbooks to tablets?
  • Will Microsoft’s OEM partners be allowed to offer customers their choice of Windows 7 or Windows 8 for a limited period of time?
  • Has Microsoft received feedback from OEM partners that will be incorporated into Windows 8? Can you name any specific examples or how Microsoft will change/adapt Windows 8 to meet the needs of OEM partners?
Han promised a deeper Windows 8 dive during the upcoming Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and politely shifted the conversation back to Windows 7.

Indeed, Han wants to make sure partners remain focused on the here-and-now, noting that Windows 7 now runs on half-a-billion PCs and is the fastest-selling OS in Microsoft's history. "There's a ton of opportunity in the market right now, pre-Windows 8," Han asserted.

From Windows XP to Windows 7

The evidence: The U.S. PC installed base is roughly 275 million computers, and roughly 124 million of them are still running Windows XP. "That's a massive opportunity to move customers onto Windows 7," said Han, who offered more thoughts in this FastChat Video:

Meanwhile, the innovation train isn't standing still ahead of Windows 8's arrival. Han noted that roughly 75 system makers are in the Ultrabook market -- promoting slim notebooks championed by Intel's design specifications.

The sit-down meeting included a demo table featuring Ultrabooks and tablets from a range of vendors -- everyone from Asus to Lenovo and Samsung, just to name a few. While some pundits think tablets -- namely, the iPad -- have chipped away at PC sales, Han insisted that "Slates are great, but I still want my laptop at the end of the day. It's an AND situation, not an OR situation. People want both." Based on that assertion, Han thinks there's plenty of room for Windows demand to grow.

And that growth, he hopes, will arrive even before Windows 8 ships. Han says original device manufacturers and other partners will continue to innovate on screen technology, CPUs and hardware design. "Those partners aren't waiting on an operating system release," he said. "It's too competitive a world for them to sit back until Windows 8 arrives."

And therein resides Han's message to the IT channel: Stay focused on dependable trends, such as Windows 7 demand on all-in-one PCs and ultrabooks.

Han also pointed to opportunities in the server market and virtualization market.  But that's a blog for another day -- really soon.


Discuss this Video 4

on Mar 16, 2012
Jack: The VAR Guy appreciates you coming back to the conversation. And as a Ziff Davis veteran (allegedly), The VAR Guy appreciates the Ballmer quote from PC Magazine (er, now Best, -TVG
Jack (not verified)
on Mar 15, 2012
500 mill licences is indeed significant, and personally I consider XP as obsolete. As regards Vista/W7, W7 is what Vista should have been at release, but in terms of added functionality and improved productivity (disregarding performance and poor quality), I don't really see any significant differences. I tried to avoid quoting Ballmer, but I can no longer resist handing over a classic from PC Magazine :o) -------------------- Ballmer seemed to acknowledge that Windows 7 was just an improved version of Vista. "I would characterize it as: windows Vista, a lot better," he said, "Windows Vista is good, Windows 7 is Windows Vista with cleanup in user interface, improvements in performance. " --------------------
on Mar 14, 2012
Jack: The VAR Guy doesn't necessarily agree that Windows 7 is Windows Vista warmed over. And 500 million Win7 licenses is impressive. Still, our resident blogger will keep your constructive criticism and skeptical eye in mind as we plan more Windows-related coverage here. Thanks for reading. -TVG
Jack (not verified)
on Mar 14, 2012
Vista just turned 5 years old, and when everything boils down, Windows 7 is Vista with the main (only) difference that Windows 7 actually works. Point is: Windows 7 is 5 years old. If businesses are set up with XP (11 years old), why should they shift to something that's not only shows it's age - but doesn't really add much in terms of productivity? Microsoft has tried to kill off both XP and Vista but are forced to keep maintaining both. Eventually everything must come to an end, but those who get the job done with XP have limited gain from W7. Why would they invest if there's no ROI?
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