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Microsoft tries to promote Windows 8 without hurting Windows 7 sales

It's a tricky balancing act for the company as the commercial availability of Windows 8 approaches

By Juan Carlos Perez
June 12, 2012 09:30 PM ET

IDG News Service - With Windows 8's commercial availability expected before the end of this year, Microsoft finds itself in the tricky position of generating enthusiasm for it without affecting Windows 7 sales.

The difficulty in striking this delicate balance became evident on Tuesday, when Microsoft officials spent the day at TechEd North America promoting Windows 8 in speeches, press conferences and demo sessions, while telling the 10,000 IT pros in attendance that their organizations, if they haven't done so already, should upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.

But at the morning keynote, when Microsoft officials made an aggressive case for enterprise adoption of Windows 8, they portrayed Windows 7 as an aging OS designed before key changes in computing happened in recent years.

"Windows 8 is a bold new bet, and it's a generational change in Windows," said Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows Web Services. "Windows 8 first and foremost is a better Windows than Windows 7."

Leblond said Windows 7 is the last in a line of OSes that began with Windows 95, designed primarily for desktop PCs that are always connected to a power source and act as the main repository for users' applications, data and content.

On the other hand, Windows 8 is designed for the world's shift to mobile devices that run on batteries and to applications and content that live dispersed in a variety of web sites and must be constantly available.

Asked to comment about the way Windows 7 was portrayed in the morning keynote, Erwin Visser, senior director of the Windows Commercial Business Group, said at a press conference later in the day that Microsoft in no way wants enterprise customers to interrupt migrations to Windows 7 from Windows XP.

"In our conversations with enterprises, we don't want to discourage their deployments of Windows 7," he said.

Microsoft will end support for Windows XP in 2014, so migrating to Windows 7 now is the right thing to do, he said, adding that Windows 8 will co-exist side-by-side with Windows 7 in an organization.

Windows 8 has a new user interface called Metro, which is designed for touch-screen devices, like tablets, but which can also be used with keyboards and mice. The OS will also have a traditional Windows 7-like interface. The Metro interface, whose design and user experience are markedly different from the traditional Windows interface, has been the source of much criticism among beta testers and industry observers, who say it's inconvenient to use with a mouse, and find its overall navigation functionality confusing.

Windows 8 computers based on x86 chips from Intel and AMD will run Windows 7 applications, and will co-exist with Windows 7 machines on enterprise environments, Visser said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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