Microsoft (MSFT) had a flop in Windows Vista: 71% of corporate PCs still run XP. So how can Microsoft convince companies to upgrade to Windows 7?
Well, for starters CEO Steve Ballmer is saying employees will think their bosses are uncool if they still have XP on their work machine.
Seriously, that’s what Steve told CIO: “If you deploy a four or five-year old operating system today, most people will ask their boss why the heck they don’t have the stuff they have at home.”
It’s a funny quote, but it reflects a problem for Microsoft: Just how does the company convince its enterprise users to upgrade to 7?
The problem for Microsoft is a lot bigger than the general issue of trying to sell anything in this economy: There’s no easy way to upgrade a Windows XP machine to Windows 7 (unlike the Vista-to-7 transition which early reviews suggest is pretty easy to do). Switching OSs for the enterprise involves not only buying new licenses, but the much more expensive proposition of testing and reinstalling lots of software, not something cost-adverse/risk-adverse corporate IT departments are fond of.
How did Microsoft find itself here?
“Our enterprise customers basically are pretty happy with what we did with Windows Vista, with one notable exception, which we needed to do to improve security, which was to break compatibility.” But in “breaking compatibility” the enterprise chose the virus-vulnerable XP over the expense and hassle of a Vista upgrade. After all, to slow the spread of malware, you can always install security software or just limit employee network access.
Tough position. But if Microsoft wants enterprise adoption rates on Windows 7 to do better than Vista, it’ll need to come up with a better pitch than employees will gripe they (might) have 7 at home.