Microsoft announced the week of April 26 that Windows 7 is now its fastest-selling operating system of all time. According to the company, it has reached over 100 million licenses worldwide, easily outpacing its predecessor, Windows Vista.
It's a major victory for Microsoft. Just a few years ago, some were wondering if the company's dominance in the OS market was slipping after Vista failed to appeal to the enterprise and even to consumers who heard nightmare stories about running the operating system. But after retooling its strategy, it seems Microsoft is back on track.
Determining what the future might hold for Microsoft can be difficult. After all, the company is facing increased pressure from several competitors and the chances of it adequately confronting those challenges and remaining on top are unknown. But that doesn't mean Microsoft should expect the worst, either. The software giant could potentially build on the success of Windows 7 and see its latest operating system become one of the most successful software releases of all time. Based on its current success, it's definitely possible.
Let's take a look at why Windows 7 could be a huge seller.
1. Things are starting out well
After less than a year of availability, Microsoft has already hit the 100-million-licenses mark. That's impressive. And although there's no guarantee that that success will continue, it's worth noting that Windows 7 is the most successful operating system launch Microsoft has had to this point. It has easily eclipsed Vista and even Windows XP, the last great Windows success, has been beaten. The enterprise and government organizations still need to jump on the Windows 7 bandwagon to make the operating system a huge seller, but at this point, things are certainly looking up for Microsoft.
2. Mac OS X isn't much of a threat
Apple likes to use advertisements to make the point that Windows 7 can't compete with Mac OS X, but it's increasingly becoming clear that that might not be true. Windows 7 is a fine operating system with several new features, including Windows XP Mode, which help the software giant differentiate its software from Apple's. And although Mac OS X has gained some market share over the past couple years, it's not enough for Microsoft to be concerned. Those who want Windows won't care about Mac OS X. Microsoft can rest easy knowing that.
3. The enterprise is coming around
A major question mark right now for Microsoft is whether or not the enterprise will move to Windows 7. So far, the software giant hasn't been all that successful at dragging companies away from their XP machines. But it looks like it might be getting closer to achieving that goal. For the most part, companies are still using XP-based computers that, at this point, are extremely old. And although they still work, they won't last much longer before companies are forced to switch. When they do, they will almost certainly switch to Windows 7. Plus, with the release of Service Pack 1 expected in 2010, Microsoft will be able to offer a much greater value proposition than it can right now.
4. The government could follow suit
Although it doesn't get the kind of attention the consumer and enterprise markets do, the government sector is a key battleground for Microsoft. Without government sales support, it will be extremely difficult for Windows 7 to match the kind of success XP enjoyed. Perhaps that's why the company plans to hold its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington this year. At that conference, it can make announcements about Windows in the center of government activity. If federal, state and local governments like what they hear, they might be more inclined to adopt Windows 7.