10 Things Microsoft Did to Make Windows 7 a Success

News Analysis: Apple fans might not like to hear it, but Microsoft is saying Windows 7 is its fastest-selling operating system of all time. It's an impressive feat. But why did sales for the OS take off so fast? We examine what Microsoft did right with Windows 7.

Microsoft Windows is one of those topics that split audiences. On one side, Microsoft supporters insist that their favorite operating system gets a bad rap and it's really far more secure than critics say.

They claim that Windows is simply misunderstood and the real proof of its value can be seen in the corporate world, where it easily dominates the competition. Microsoft detractors say Windows is a major security risk. They say Microsoft can't be trusted with an operating system. And they point to either Linux or Mac OS X as the viable operating system choice.
As heated as that debate may be, it seems Microsoft's performance over the past few months might be the deciding factor. According to the company, Windows 7 is the "fastest-selling" operating system Microsoft has ever offered. Currently, over 90 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold worldwide. Windows 7's success is a far cry from the difficulties Microsoft had with Windows Vista. Some even believed that Microsoft couldn't overcome the damage Vista had done. But it did. And today, Windows 7 is a success.
Let's take a look at how Microsoft made it happen.
1. Distance from Windows Vista
When Vista started going south on Microsoft and the company knew it had a much better operating system waiting in the wings, it distanced itself from Vista. In interviews, Microsoft executives would support it to some extent, but they would always shift their attention to Windows 7. Even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his platform to promote the future of Windows, rather than the past. It was a smart move. Vista was a major mistake. And Microsoft knew it.
2. It examined Vista's troubles
As troublesome as Vista was from a marketing and public relations perspective, Microsoft used it to its advantage. The company examined the problems folks had with the operating system and devised improvements for Windows 7 that would address those problems. For example, compatibility and resource-intensiveness proved to be huge issues for Vista. Neither of those problems affect Windows 7.
3. The netbook market helped
The netbook market was arguably one of the main reasons why Microsoft was able to maintain a somewhat amicable rapport with consumers and the enterprise. As netbooks grew in popularity, Microsoft made Windows XP, rather than Vista, the centerpiece of its netbook strategy. Doing so, it was able to ease customers back into the Windows world and make them enjoy the experience of using a Microsoft operating system again. Without netbooks to distract customers from Vista on the desktop, Microsoft might have been in more trouble.
4. It communicated with the enterprise
When Microsoft was preparing for Windows 7's release, the company did something it didn't do with Vista: It played nice with the enterprise. Realizing that the corporate world had some doubts, Microsoft offered the Enterprise edition of its operating system to companies to try it out before they engaged in a full-scale deployment. It worked. The enterprise came around, saw the value of Windows 7 and, as current sales figures have shown, are starting to adopt Microsoft's latest OS.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...