Then, after announcing its intention to send it to store shelves, Microsoft made the smartest move of all: it allowed companies to download Windows 7 Enterprise edition to see for themselves why Windows 7 would work in their operation. Microsoft was running on all cylinders.
Until the news broke that this security issue will impact Windows 7 computers.
See, at this point, it doesn't even matter that the vulnerability won't be a problem to those who buy Windows 7 next month. The very fact that Windows 7 suffers from a security problem that can cause a Blue Screen of Death is enough to scare some people away. Those that believed that Windows 7 would be different from Windows Vista might have a reason to change their minds now. All they see is that a security problem has impacted Windows 7. It reminds them of Vista. And it might make them a little gun shy.
But just how gun shy is unknown. Certainly there will be some companies that see this for what it really is: a slight problem that, if a company is jumping from Windows XP to Windows 7, it won't need to deal with. But others will be far less forgiving. Some companies were burned by Windows Vista. Their trust in Microsoft isn't nearly as high as it could be. And any misstep, no matter the consequences to them, could have a damaging affect on Microsoft's bottom line.
With just over one month to go before Windows 7 is released, Microsoft would like to cruise. It knows that it has fixed many of the mistakes it made with Vista's launch. It understands that it needs to repair some broken relationships with vendors, the enterprise and consumers. And it realizes that Windows 7 is a key component in its future success.
So with a security outbreak affecting its users, it needs to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible. Most importantly, it needs to do a better job of reassuring companies and consumers that the Windows 7 they will use won't be impacted by this outbreak.
Microsoft can use this issue as an opportunity. Instead of focusing on Windows XP virtualization and an improved taskbar, the company can spend the next week or two talking about Windows 7 security. It can reassure users that Windows 7, when it's released, will boast the kind of protection that they would expect. And if and when a security outbreak does occur, Microsoft can reassure them that it will do everything it can to fix it before it gets out of hand.
Although Microsoft's security woes are a real problem for the company as it tries to attract the suspect shopper, it's not the end of the fight. It can turn the negative into a positive. It just needs to do it now.