The Right Strategy
Burying companies in numbers isn't the best way to ensure Windows 7's success. That might be a nice supplement to more compelling arguments, but as a standalone reason why the enterprise should ditch Windows XP or Windows Vista and move to the company's new operating system, it probably doesn't cut it.
Microsoft needs to first rebuild its relationship with corporate customers. To do so, it needs to finally admit defeat on Vista. Instead of trying to cling to its position that Vista really was a fine successor to XP, maybe Microsoft needs to admit that it made some real mistakes. It needs to accept responsibility for making promises that it didn't keep. And it should make it very clear that it has learned from those same mistakes.
The reality is, eventually most companies will need to update their software from Windows XP to something new. Those XP computers are getting old, they're slowing employees down, and they're cutting into productivity. In a normal circumstance, most companies would have likely replaced them by now. But due to the issues the enterprise witnessed with Vista, they're suspect (perhaps rightfully so) of Windows 7. Companies just don't know what to expect.
And yet, they do know that they can't escape from the Windows ecosystem. It's only a matter of time before they buy new Windows-based machines. Microsoft knows that too. But it also wants to have the cash now rather than later. In order to achieve that goal, it needs to allay enterprise fears. The company's decision to release a free trial of Windows 7 Enterprise Edition is a good start, but now it comes down to old-fashioned PR. It needs to make its case.
Undoubtedly, making that case will be difficult. But Microsoft needs to remember that it's currently sitting on the product most companies need. It must remind them of the security features Microsoft has built into the operating system to make it more appealing to the business world. It needs to focus its efforts on key features like Windows XP mode, which will allow many companies to enjoy the same experience they do now in a virtual environment. Along those lines, the company needs to reassure the enterprise that all those compatibility problems that plagued Windows XP probably won't make their way into Windows 7, thanks to that XP mode.
The reality is, Windows 7 is an extremely compelling product that so far, Microsoft hasn't marketed well enough. It's not Windows Vista. It's even better than Windows XP. But by overloading companies with figures, percentages, and other quantifiable metrics that they probably find little use in, Microsoft isn't adequately making the point that Windows 7 really is an ideal business platform. And the longer it makes that mistake, the longer it will need to wait for Windows XP users to finally make their move to the new operating system.