Windows 7 helps Microsoft hit record customer satisfaction score

Windows 7 has fueled a surge of goodwill toward Microsoft, with the company's customer satisfaction ratings reaching a record high in Q1, according to a new American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

Microsoft's reputation among customers plunged after it released the widely criticized Windows Vista, but Windows 7 helped Microsoft achieve an increase of nearly 9% in its customer satisfaction score between 2009 and 2010.

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When Vista was released in 2007, "customer satisfaction plunged 4% to an ACSI score of 70, well below the industry average, where it remained for the next three years," University of Michigan business professor Claes Fornell writes in analysis of the new ACSI numbers.

But when Windows 7 was introduced in October 2009, the software reached 4% market share within just three weeks, whereas it took Vista seven months to reach that milestone.

As a result, Microsoft's customer satisfaction score rose from 70 to 76 in 2010, an 8.6% increase.

"By March 2010, more than 90 million Windows 7 licenses had been sold," Fornell writes. "Microsoft has achieved high volume sales from a big boost in customer satisfaction -- its ACSI score is Microsoft's highest ever."

Although the computer software industry has hundreds of companies, Microsoft is the only one large enough to be included as a stand-alone entity in the ACSI rankings, which otherwise rates the software industry on an aggregate basis.

Microsoft's score of 76 is based on a 100-point scale, and is virtually identical to the national score of 75.9, which takes into account all major industries including cable TV, phone service, healthcare and energy. Microsoft's 2010 improvement also brings the company in line with the rest of the software industry, which achieved an aggregate rating of 76.

This is the fifth year the ACSI has analyzed Microsoft. The company's previous high score was a 73 rating obtained in 2006. While increasing scores can be expected across all industries as the country moves out of recession, the national index of 75.9 was unchanged between Q4 2009 and Q1 2010, so it seems likely that Microsoft's recent success can be attributed to Windows 7.

ACSI results have been published since 1994 and are updated quarterly, and are based on interviews with customers of about 200 companies in 43 industries.

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This story, "Windows 7 helps Microsoft hit record customer satisfaction score" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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