Microsoft plans on launching Windows 7 in New York City on Oct. 22, with an event hosted by CEO Steve Ballmer. Although the company has declined to divulge many details, it has suggested that its ecosystem partners will use the high-profile stage to roll out their own new hardware.
In many aspects, the rollout of Windows 7 could mirror the launch of Microsoft's previous editions of its core products. In November 2006, company executives headlined events around the world to celebrate the business availability of Office 2007, Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007, with Ballmer present at the New York event. A few months later, in January 2007, New York was again the site of the consumer launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007, this time with Bill Gates hosting a worldwide live Webcast.
Despite the hoopla surrounding that original Vista launch, that operating system quickly found itself under attack by users decrying its lack of backward compatibility with Windows XP, as well as its memory requirements.
Microsoft obviously hopes for a different result this time around, and has instituted a series of price cuts and retailer promotions designed to push Windows 7 into the hands of as many global users as possible following the launch. To encourage adoption by the enterprises and SMBs (small to midsize businesses), Microsoft has also been touting Windows 7's XP mode as a last-ditch fix for any Windows XP-centric applications that still refuse to run on Windows 7.
However, the business adoption rate of Windows 7 may be somewhat slowed by the economy. In a 1,000-company survey published by ScriptLogic, some 60 percent of businesses suggested they will not upgrade to Windows 7 immediately upon the operating system's release, with many choosing to wait until the end of 2010. Some 42 of respondents said a "lack of time and resources" was the major contributing factor to that decision.
Another survey by Deutsche Bank found that, longer term, Windows 7 could very well experience a penetration rate superior to that of Windows XP or Windows 2000. Companies such as Intel that famously declined to adopt Vista have also signaled that they will incorporate Windows 7 into their IT infrastructure.
If Windows 7 does prove to be a success, it could help Microsoft reverse steadily declining revenues. In the fourth financial quarter of 2009, the company reported a 17 percent decline in year-over-year revenue, with earnings of $13.10 billion. Symbolically and financially, then, Redmond has a lot riding on New York.