Space Ramblings

Business Customers – Where Microsoft Went Wrong with Vista

By now the story is set that despite the +100 million licenses sold, Microsoft Vista is a failure. But Vista is a failure despite its sales because the goal of a Microsoft operating system is to supersede and render irrelevant its previous version. And that means Microsoft’s current goal is not to build on Vista’s success, but to try and force Vista into the spot as the dominant OS, a slow and grueling battle that has to be fought against the tide of public opinion which wants XP and doesn’t want Vista and risk alienating home and business customers. The alternative is to simply accept Vista as a failed contender and focus on Windows 7.

Whether Windows Vista is Windows 98 or Windows ME is open to debate but while the record says that Windows Vista is a failure, Microsoft is centered through its OS which means pushing OS upgrades to sell product upgrades. Upgrade your OS, upgrade your office software, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. But why should people upgrade?

Microsoft’s problem wasn’t, as Dvorak suggested that it didn’t market Windows, but that it marketed it at an idiot level, giving generic reasons for switching to Vista without explaining what Vista had to offer that XP didn’t, besides security. That strategy backfired worst of all with business customers who needed a solid reason to switch, and with Vista’s security blackened even before launch, had no reason to justify that expense.

Vista was marketed at a ditzy home user level but home users don’t buy that many copies independently anyway. Mostly they get OS’s preloaded, unless they happen to be smart enough to buy a naked system. Microsoft failed to sell the business community on Vista because it had no specifics to sell them on.

This right here is the bottom line

Will Weider is just the kind of customer Microsoft (MSFT) needs to keep its Windows computer operating system franchise growing.

He oversees tech for a chain of Wisconsin hospitals — 14,000 computers’ worth. But Weider has no desire to upgrade to Vista, the latest version of Windows.

“I wouldn’t put on Vista if it was free,” says Weider, chief information officer for Ministry Health Care. “In the past, there’s always been an important reason to upgrade, but XP (the previous version of Windows) is perfectly acceptable.”

This kind of response characterizes so many CIO’s when dealing with Vista, it’s the hard nosed, “What’s in it” for me approach that has killed Vista in the business marketplace. And really what’s in it for users? A flashier resource hogging interface? Lots of security warnings that were created to irritate users and force third party company compliance (talk about sabotaging your own product?), DX10, a new brand name?

When it came right down to it, Microsoft knew it had nothing to really offer and rolled out a slick marketing campaign focusing on generic user experience messages. Not only didn’t this fool home users, but it didn’t come close to fooling business customers who know quite well that a generic selling campaign means you’re either incompetent or are trying to unload a dog with no real selling points.

And they said no.

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