Near the close of the first decade of the new millennium, Microsoft faced harrowing marketing challenges for its new operating system (OS), Windows 7, as a direct result of its predecessor’s disastrous launch and subsequent performance in 2007 and 2008. Contrasted sharply with Microsoft XP’s good looking graphical interface, high-scoring performance benchmarks, compatibility, and moderate computing requirements, Microsoft Vista was slow, overbearing, overpriced and overhyped. Microsoft’s marketing teams were tasked with overcoming staunch consumer objection to Vista and get the public excited and looking forward to the release of Windows 7. Laid out within this paper is a brief strategy for Microsoft to accomplish this with proper branding and communication strategies.
An Unwanted Operating System
Vista’s failing launch was beset by one primary problem: very few needed or wanted an OS upgrade to Windows XP, and certainly not the one that Windows Vista offered. In addition, computer chipset maker, Intel, an ongoing partner with Microsoft, unloaded hundreds of thousands of older, stockpiled chipsets with the new OS that were incapable of running Vista as it had been advertised, which led to consumer frustration and overall dissatisfaction (Gralla, 2008). Combining these two facts made for a PR and marketing disaster that ultimately gave way to significantly reduced market share performance and opened the door to direct competitor, Apple.
Primary Strategy for Windows 7
To combat the aforementioned problems, Window needs to correctly market the Windows 7 platform by purposely juxtaposing it against the perceived failures of Vista. Given how poorly Vista was received, Microsoft’s best bet is to demonstrate Windows 7’s value by exemplifying how it is not Vista, marketing namely through real differences in performance, ease of use, cost-effectiveness and compatibility. In other words, distance from Vista as much as possible; acknowledge and minimize Vista’s shortcomings, but also deflect to the future and Windows 7. Overcoming consumer objections with clever advertising will be difficult, as it was over promising in Vista that got Microsoft into how water in the first place. So Microsoft should aim to under promise and over deliver with its new product to the right market, with the right image. To illustrate this effectively, a SWOT analysis is provided as following.
Windows is the most widely used OS in the world, and Windows 7 performance is better than both Vista and XP (Reisinger, 2017). Graphical user interface is much improved over Vista with improved security features, and full XP and Vista software and driver compatibility. Additionally, the Windows 7 beta version has opened to overwhelming positivity from beta testers as well as industry critics.
Vista promises were never delivered by Microsoft, even two years after its initial offering. Microsoft’s operating systems were problematic with security threats with respect to any other OS on the market (e.g., Linux, Mac). In addition, a high cost of development necessarily led to a high price for the software. Finally, anti-trust lawsuits tarnished brand image.
XP is eight years old by the time Windows 7 is ready for launch and Vista market penetration is so low that a viable segment of Windows consumers are ready for an upgrade, especially as downgrading the XP is becoming increasingly expensive. Hardware is becoming cheaper, allowing a robust OS like Windows 7 to thrive cost effectively. PC is still a lot cheaper than Mac, and Mac doesn’t run gaming software which is becoming increasingly popular. Finally, the vast majority of corporate organizations uses Windows and will therefore upgrade to Windows 7 if the performance is there.
Success hinges on convincing consumers to upgrade. Mac is increasing its market share and has branded its computers and OS as “cooler.” Windows 7 has a high purchase price, and XP is still viable and popular. Finally, netbooks are becoming popular and their operating systems Linux and Android are open source (i.e., free to use).
Product and Price Advertising
Vista had too many versions and price points available to the consumer. Windows 7 should streamline to three or four versions with appropriate prices to reflect the given services for the basic user, the enhanced home user, and corporate/business. Upgrades from Vista should be generously discounted to motivate consumers to switch, and XP downgrading disallowed.
More-than-capable enhanced performance should be the emphasis with advertising mediums including print, television and social media. Juxtapose against the Mac OS, exposing their weak points (non-gaming OS, price difference, compatibility difference) on all three mediums, especially television. Offer pre-orders a discounted price.
Learning directly from the disaster that was Vista, Microsoft has a perfect blueprint for what not to do when advertising and launching Windows 7. In short, Microsoft needs to focus on delivering on all of its promises, whatever those may be, and to heavily advertise those competitive advantages Windows 7 offers over Windows XP, Windows Vista, and of course, the Apple Mac operating system.
- Gralla, P. (2008, February 29). Was Intel behind the Vista ‘junk PC’ scheme?
Retrieved June 21, 2017, from
- Reisinger, D. (2017, June 22). 10 Things Microsoft Did to Make Windows 7 a Success.
Retrieved June 23, 2017, from http://www.eweek.com/