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Q&A: Why Windows 7 SP1 is a "total non-event"

Rich Reynolds

By Jack Schofield

Posted on 5 Nov 2010 at 13:29

Microsoft's Windows 7 has taken over the consumer PC market, but the business market still belongs to Windows XP. Rich Reynolds, Microsoft's general manager for Windows commercial marketing, aims to change that.

Reynolds studied marketing at the University of Lancaster and joined Microsoft in the UK in 1990, before spending 12 years in Canada. He moved to Redmond about five years ago.

We talked to him at Microsoft's Customer Centre in London.

Q. Windows 7 sold 240 million copies in its first year, so presumably you're pleased with how it's going?

A. It's the most successful operating system we've ever released, whichever dimension you look at. Our internal statistics show that Windows 7 is being adopted at least twice as fast as XP and at least three times faster than Vista. There are very rapid deployments on both the business side and the consumer side. Nobody's waiting for Service Pack 1. Usually there's this big deal about SP1, but this time it's a total non-event.

Some of the pain of Windows Vista was of benefit with Windows 7

Q. Windows XP is no longer on sale but presumably your 240m includes PCs running XP using downgrade rights?

A. Yes, it's 240m licences sold. Another statistic from NetApplications shows that 17% of PCs are running Windows 7. If there are 1.2 billion PCs, that's about 200 million PCs.

Q. Were there any mistakes made with the launch, where you'd go back and do it differently?

A. No, we're very pleased with the launch in every single dimension.

We learned a lot from the Vista rollout and we applied it to Windows 7. For example, we were very careful to make sure we didn't disclose anything related to the product unless we knew we were going to deliver it as part of the product. And because customers had challenges with Vista, we spent a lot of time on best practices and tools, and that naturally carried forward to Windows 7. Some of the pain of Windows Vista was of benefit with Windows 7.

Q. Do you get people saying that Windows 7 is more like another version of Vista?

A. No, not at all. I'd heard people criticising Vista, but when I talked to them, 99% of the time, they didn't use it. People who used Vista actually liked it, particularly after SP1. The UI benefits, the speed and performance of Windows 7 mean people are viewing it as a new operating system, which it is.

Q. What's driving Windows 7's adoption?

A. The consistent feedback I get is that really there are two things. One is this end-user enthusiasm, so in a sense, the "consumerisation of IT" is working in our favour. Windows 7 users get a lot of value from it.

The second thing is its great IT value: enhanced security and single-image management, virtualisation (XP Mode and MED-V) and so on.
We've released TCO [Total Cost of Ownership] studies with Baker Tilly, BAA, the city of Stockholm, and National Instruments, and on average they're saying they can save about $140 per PC per year in TCO.

We've packaged best practices in what we call Jumpstart offerings.
They cover things like pilots, image creation, application compatibility, application virtualisation and so on, so you can have a very solid plan.

Q. Are companies clinging to IE6 proving much of a barrier to adoption?

A. It varies from customer to customer, obviously. Our experience is that it's either super-easy or it's very hard. It's kind of binary.

What we find is that the fear is worse than the reality, if they use some of the deployment tools and methodologies we've provided, and some of the virtualisation technologies. It's almost ten years since some customers have done this kind of thing, so they're using the transition to rationalise and reduce the number of apps they're using. Boeing reduced them from 11,000 to about 7,000.

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User comments

Windows7 adoption

I use Windows 7 and I have to admit that I really do like it... even though it does have some odd idiosynrancies that I'm still to understand.

However, surely there are 2 main reasons that the adoption of Windows 7 has been better than other OS's.

1) Vista was, on the whole, ignored and therefore a lot of people are currently running on old hardware awaiting an upgrade.

2) this is probably the most important reason. Year on year, the price of new hardware gets cheaper, as such new desktops and laptops are easier to purchase more often.

If you could still buy Windows XP licences, I'm sure a lot of people would and it would greatly sway the current figures

By SteveSmith on 5 Nov 2010

Another Schofield PR piece for Microsoft

Wow, you certainly threw him some hard ball questions there, Jack.

Why didn't you really put him on the spot by say, asking him what his favourite colour is? Or how does he feel about Robbie Williams being back with Take That?

By BrownieBoy6 on 5 Nov 2010


I can't wait for Windows 7 Service Pack 1!

By MAX87 on 6 Nov 2010

windows 7 or what?

As Steve said, cheap hardware and lack of choise is driving the the 7 boom. The average punter in the street can buy either window 7 or a mac. If he has some knowledge he might look around and find a linux computer, or probably build one. Business have a choice and they are being alot slower in adopting Windows 7. What does this say?
I use windows 7 and like it but it is slowing down on me just like XP did. I will probably replace it as my main operating system soon. Any ideas what with?

By M_Hamer on 6 Nov 2010

Why is W7 better? Because MS is copying Apple!

Finally, MS decided to learn from others who were doing a better job and have integrated a lot of Apple features and thinking into W7.

Feature after feature, too many to list, are basically straight out of the Apple experience and way of doing things. Implemented differently in some ways perhaps, but basically the kind of benefits users experience from W7 deployment are the same as those OS X has given users for years. Just a generation or so behind...

W7 has the Apple touch.

By SwissMac on 6 Nov 2010

One more thing...

Tablets were Tablet PCs before Apple took the market over with its innovative approach. Even MS called them "Tablet PCs" until Ballmer saw what Apple were doing...

Funny thing is, tablets make you better, but you "slate" someone when you slag them off.

By SwissMac on 6 Nov 2010

Any ideas what with?


By arturpio on 7 Nov 2010

Good old SwissMac

Here to propagate the same fanboi lies.

If Microsoft improve their UI in any way it's been copied from Apple. If MS call tablets Slates it's because of Apple. Doesn't he know that Windows had the Control Panel before Apple had System Preferences? MS had proper multitasking before OSX? The new taskbar in Windows 7 looks a lot like the Dock so it must be copied from Apple right? It can't at all be possible that MS simply took the Quick Launch from previous versions of Windows and made it bigger.

And did he notice how Apple unveiled their Expose from Dock feature shortly after MS previewed the Aero Peek in Windows? But Apple couldn't be copying a feature from Windows that is clearly useful.

The fact is there are only a limited number of ways of presenting information in a GUI. It is inevitable that both companies will arrive at similar ideas, or they will have to copy ideas from one another because it's simply too useful not to have.

Of course I can't tell what MS have copied from Apple, any more than he can tell what they have. So please, please, please stop posting unqualified bullshit as if it were fact.

By windywoo on 7 Nov 2010

Don't like it, can't like it. The UI is dreadful. The taskbar deliberately hides multiple windows and makes working with programs now a three click rather than one click process. Network mangement is now an unmitigated farce, taking the disaster that was Vista and making it more complicated. The control panel is little more than widget upon widget, most directing a an interstitial web page behind which lie the exact same controls and dialog boxes as before, except now instead of having three tabs you have three extra links, leading to pages, leading to the same ruddy dialogs as windows 2000.

Too much is dumped on disk - Windows Defender, UAC (which is a weak effort to emulate the Linux prompt, but without the necessary underlying separation), the architecture is showing it's age - an opportunioty to completely change the way programs are allowed to interact with the core OS was ignored over marketing hype and, frankly, the purpose of an OS - managing files and programs - has been made harder. With the new libraries concept seemingly designed to hide your work in myriad locations, explorer made useless by not being able to delete or hide the stupid foisted on your default folders it seems Microsoft want to make the OS your program instead of merely the platform.

By bubbles16 on 8 Nov 2010

Great OS - not so great price

At a time when the price of hardware has shot to an incredible low - £400 gets you an very well specified machine WITH windows 7 Professional, why is M$ stuck at a ludicrous pricing structure. This means that the software is priced at 25% of the hardware. This is just insane.

By Manuel on 8 Nov 2010

Corporate Take up of Windows 7

Perdsonally I have it on 2 PCs & 2 Laptops, 3 were upgrades at the special offer rate without a COA & one was a new purchase.
As for corporate, the building I am currently sat in still uses Windows 2000 with the majority on XP. No plans to change. They have just had a PAINFUL upgrade to a database program.

By bigluap on 11 Nov 2010

Windows 7 - Price

Amazon has the 3 licence Home upgrade pack for £120

By bigluap on 11 Nov 2010

Believe the stats you want, ignore the others.

Does Mr Reynolds actually think that he gets to hear the truth? Sitting in his lofty tower the only info he gets is what his staff want to pass on. Its a bit like the government minister who thought the Army had all it wants in Afganistan!
What feedback, what experience. NetApp reckon 17% of PCs have Win7, how do they know? Where I used to work only 20% of the PCs had access to the internet so 80% are invisible to any external search. I still would not buy a PC without downgrade rights for a business. Until I get to critical mass of PCs who have Win7 COA I am not going to look at a mass migration despite the fact in general I like Win7
And as for SwissMac, its getting to be a bit of a joke, few businesses will ever take Mac seriously. Its a bit difficult having competetive tendering when there is only one supplier in the marketplace.

By MIssingLink on 11 Nov 2010

Moving goalposts

So Rich Reynolds can thank the 'consumerisation' of IT - by which he means the balance of IT sales tipping from work tools into home tools.
Sadly, this has resulted in the replacement of a once-lean OS by bloated and fluffy interfaces, all assuming a) that everyone wants nothing but a multimedia experience, and b) that you're incapable of using Windows Explorer to do any of it.
Sure, the reality is that a pc (or three) in every home means that the average user is now your mp3-zombie younger sister or your friend's mum, perfectly able to drive cars or manage their finances, but evidently not interested in using a pc; and I concede that we can't (commercially) go back on that.
However, for the rest of us, Windows 7 has tragically lost the lightness of touch and has instead made so many functions harder, not easier (more clicks, more cushion interfaces before you get to the actual mechanics), or, awash in Wizards that lure you into complex activities such as networking and folder sharing (Libraries) but not alerting you to the risks or maintenance needs.
Were it not for the parallel evolution of hardware, this OS would be shown for what it is - buckets of froth and sticky gloop. Aready my 6-month old quad-processor device is already slowing with the weight of Windows 7 'updates', and so it really is no wonder that the corporate and enterprise market prefers virtualised XP - their admins know the truth that Microsoft won't admit: desktop XP was their finest hour - and Microsoft knows it.

By rossnet on 11 Nov 2010

Don't like it!

Fully agree with Bubbles16.
And Mediaplayer won't navigate to MY folders only the wretched libraries!

By keithach on 11 Nov 2010

with_bubbles16 & _keithach

I'm in agreement with bubbles and keith. & merely builds on the farcical changes introduced with Vista, and akin to the stupidity of the Ribbon bar in Office 2007, so disliked it was pretty much set back to look like Office 2003 in the newer Office 2010 releases.

Typically with any interview with a Marketeer this article fails to grasp the reality of Windows 7 being effectively a Branched deployment of Windows Vista, rushed out in double quick-time to overcome the horror that was the Vista Trainwreck.

As for SwissMac's trollings, it would seem odd he's so quick to compare 7 with Apple's OS. Any decent minded fanboi should be doing the opposite! ;-)

By Gindylow on 12 Nov 2010

Microsoft are inside out

Sadly, MS work from the Inside Out, ie. they decide what to impose upon the customer as opposed to working Outside In and generating what the customer actually wants.

I still work mainly with XP machines as every time I use one of our company's new 7 machines I give up after hours of failing to achieve the simplest of tasks.

Windows 7 is most definitely NOT easier to use than XP.

By einstein9 on 12 Nov 2010

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