Windows 7 must avoid the marketing trap that Vista stumbled into

Windows 7 must avoid the marketing trap that Vista stumbled into

Summary: I've been following the Engineering Windows 7 blog closely and I've come to the conclusion that while Steven Sinofsky is a man of many words, those words don't say an awful lot. However, the other day Sinofsky did say something quite interesting.

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I've been following the Engineering Windows 7 blog closely and I've come to the conclusion that while Steven Sinofsky is a man of many words, those words don't say an awful lot. However, the other day Sinofsky did say something quite interesting:

We heard lots on this forum about providing specific versions of Windows customized for different audiences, while we also heard quite a bit about the need to reduce the number of versions of Windows. However, there are limits to what we can provide and at the same time provide a reliable “platform” that customers and developers can count on and is robust and manageable for a broad set of customers. [emphasis added]

This is the trap that Windows Vista fell into, thanks to marketing. Here you have an OS that comes in four retail flavors (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate), but the differences between these editions comes down to little more than arbitrary decisions made for the sake of marketing and being able to sell existing users an upgrade. For example, someone made the decision that home users were idiots and wouldn't want a complete backup and restore feature, and that business users wouldn't want to make DVDs. Given this, and what Sinofsky says about needing to provide a reliable platform, I really can't understand how the Vista experience ended up being smeared over four editions. Home Basic is little more than a "get out of jail free card" for OEMs to allow them to sell PCs with underpowered GPUs and Ultimate was sold to users on the promise of "Extras" which largely turned out to be vaporware. Given how even on-board GPUs have improved over the last year or so, I doubt that a similar edition will be necessary come Windows 7.

Also, if you exclude Home Basic from the mix, the gap in suggested retail price between Home Premium and Ultimate is $60 (the difference in price for the OEM system builder versions is, oddly enough, $80), and so I really don't think that increased revenues from the version with more features justifies all the consumer confusion that the various versions create. If marketing doesn't have a say in things I'm predicting that Windows 7 will come in two flavors (Home and Pro). There's no reason to have any more versions. Personally, I'd prefer it that Microsoft copied Apple and released only a single version for the desktop, but that's unlikely.

What I'd like to see Windows 7 have is a selection of performance modes that would allow you to shut down unnecessary processes and services when you wanted to play a game or use your system for a demanding task. That would be far more use than a bunch of different editions that boiled down to pretty much the same thing.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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65 comments
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  • I agree "One OS to unite them all"

    "One price to keep all happy" In the end it's just a marketing
    ploy different versions each with their own "missing" pieces.
    In many ways it looks like double dipping too me. Sell the
    OEM stripped bare version with the system. MS gets some
    green with every sale and BOUNUS many will be buying a
    better version after a bit of time discovering that their OEM
    system is lacking. Double Dipping.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • It's the satellite model

      Take the most popular features and spread them across different "deals," so that the only way to get them all is to pay the top $$$.
      frgough
    • At least Microsoft doesn't charge for ....

      ... driver updates as in convert your G wireless to N or in point releases every year like Apple.
      ShadeTree
      • Still don't understand eh?

        OSX is the same as Windows

        Tiger and Leopard is the same as XP and Vista

        Apple does not charge for upgrades and patches nor
        security fixes such as 10.4.1 to 10.4.11.

        As for that driver things wasn't that like a single buck and
        that was for some accounting issue? Not much of a stink if
        you ask me but go ahead and try to make it...heh heh heh

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Please

        They were forced to charge in that situation and it was only .99 cents. I'm not defending but if you're going to put something out there at least give more details. Yeah, I know I should look for the article but I'm not.
        HouseOfZen
        • Unfortunately

          I'm forced to charge you a buck for reading your post. It's an accounting rule.

          Your response to me should echo the response you gave Apple.
          rtk
          • The question here is was there an accounting

            regulation or not? If so you have not argument. I not then
            why not point that out?

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
    • Adrian got it right

      There was some misunderstanding on the engineering team's part. Users don't want more versions of Windows. They want one version which is modular so that they can make it smaller and faster or larger and more featureful depending on the need.

      I'm sure OEMs would love if MS did that.

      One of the biggest complaints about Linux is that there are too many versions (distro) to choose from, but at least I can try out most of them for free and decide if they fit my needs or not.
      daengbo
  • Another option, follow the Linux lead, let the user choose components

    Of course most users will not be savy, so the default should cover the most desirable and least confusing features. However, adding stuff that you didn't initially choose should be as easy as inserting the disc and clicking check boxes.

    It may make sense to have a pro and a non-pro version but anything more than that would be excessive (IMO).

    I do like your performance mode idea. I really wish I had that for when I play Crysis.
    T1Oracle
  • Basically you want what Vista already has, Adrian

    "What I???d like to see Windows 7 have is a selection of performance modes that would allow you to shut down unnecessary processes and services when you wanted to play a game or use your system for a demanding task. "

    Superfetch and Vista's improved priority IO system already do this when doing demanding task. Open up the task manager and note the resources used, then launch a game or run another operating system in a virtual machine (or both) and watch Vista shut all those processes and services down to free up the memory for application use.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offline_Files#I.2FO_subsystem

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/performance.aspx
    soonerproud
  • I Agree, and Disagree... Strangely

    I agree that there are too many versions of windows. However I can understand that marketing wants to focus different products to different groups.

    The real trouble with this is determining what you put in each version.

    For XP Home you got the very basics. XP Pro you got all they had to offer. Then came along Media Center, if you were to put it into a particular version would it be Home or Pro?

    The Pro is generally geared towards business users, would businesses want a version of Media Center on all of their desktops? Of course not.

    So do you then put Media Center in XP Home and not XP Pro? Then you have a trimmed down XP Home with the Media Center as an extra bonus. But what if you wanted the version of windows that didn't only rely on the 'Simple File Sharing' model of XP Home?

    So then you had XP Media Center Edition... which is kind of the XP 'Ultimate' edition.

    So I don't think you can get away with two editions in this day in age. I think either 1 edition with everything (I don't think business would like this) or have 3 editions Home, Business, Ultimate... Which is kinda where Vista is at...

    Home Basic is really a non-starter for most people, IMHO.

    Some people say, well look at Apple, 1 version for everything. Well that is nice and dandy but Apple only markets their products to consumers. Do you think Apple would sell OSX with iLife available to businesses? Would businesses complain that they are paying for something they don't want?

    I don't claim to have the right answers but I think they are interesting questions to noodle through.
    mikefarinha
    • Not only paying for what they don't want...

      ...but having software that causes a loss of productivity in a business OS is no good. I agree 100% (and would have made my earlier post a reply to yours had I read it first) that we need three versions of Windows, Home, Pro, Ultimate. However don't sell home users Ultimate with the promise of some shiny new feature only they will get, that will just burn you in the long run. Sell Ultimate for what it is, Home and Pro in one package.
      LiquidLearner
      • Good lord

        Swings and round-a-bouts people, swings and round-a-
        bouts!

        What you may not use, another person uses, and what that
        person may not use, you may use. What you may not use
        now you may later find useful. You may not find encryption
        completely useless now, but wouldn't be nice to know that
        it is there when you find that in 6 months that you really
        need that feature. That can be applied to almost any
        situation.

        No one wants to feel like they've got the castrated version;
        have one single version - and for businesses, customise
        the installation, make an image, and re-image all laptops
        using it. I swear there are alot of dumb people around here
        thinking that you *MUST* install features when these are
        entirely optional and can be added/removed.
        Kaiwai
  • $1500 for Internet browse and e-mail

    Then there's the ISP and anti virus fee and I don't see either of them working hard at problem solving.The OS is like your car engine,it has to work perfect every time or the car is useless.If you want e-mail then fork out the cash.
    BALTHOR
  • Vista Gaming Performance = XP Gaming Performance

    [i]What I'd like to see Windows 7 have is a selection of performance modes that would allow you to shut down unnecessary processes and services when you wanted to play a game or use your system for a demanding task. [/i]

    The truth is out there. Current Vista gaming performance is on par with Current XP gaming performance, honest!

    http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/amd_nvidia_windows_vista_driver_performance_update/page9.asp

    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2302500,00.asp

    This is a horrible straw man argument. You claim to want to disable something because you *think* it slows you down, even though you have no evidence to back you up.
    mikefarinha
    • I know ..

      ... finally. I've said exactly the same thing on this blog several times. Point is, why does everything related to Vista end up being a comparison to XP? The point is to free up system resources so that gaming (or Abobe Photoshop, Premiere or whatever) is faster under Vista and actually benefits from an OS upgrade.

      If I wanted XP performance, I would stick with XP.

      It amazes me how many people consider XP the apotheosis of OSes and always retreat to comparing Vista to it.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Do you know?

        [i]... finally. I've said exactly the same thing on this blog several times. Point is, why does everything related to Vista end up being a comparison to XP?[/i]

        What would you compare it to? Mac? OK, show me the benchmarks comparing Photoshop on OSX and Vista.

        Or perhaps you want to compare Vista to the idealized imaginary version of Windows that floats through your head?

        You offer up silly 'what if...' questions in order to perpetuate a false notion of how inferior Vista is.
        mikefarinha
        • Straw man?

          Can't someone ask for functionality to improve performance without having to compare it to another OS?
          AndyCee
          • Yes, you can ask...

            Yes, you can ask for whatever you want. However, the problem I have with the question isn't the question itself, but what the question implies, that Vista is some how slow and thus we need a way to speed it up by having the ability to disable 'processes.' (Kinda of strange way of asking for speed improvements since you can disable quite a bit of services... I'd be curious to see any comparisons of Vista with and with out certain services disabled, I doubt you'd see any useful performance differences.)

            Then there is the whole perception of performance, what is performance? How do you measure performance? He doesn't define how he wants to view this performance increase. Vista is as least as responsive as any OS I've used, which includes all iterations of Windows since 95, BSD, Linux, and Mac.

            Another car analogy of mine. If you have a car, and you want to get it to go faster you can do a few things, you can upgrade the engine (aka CPU)... or you can tweak the engine (aka overclocking the CPU) or you can lighten the car by removing things. You know, heavy things like the seats, the mirrors, the windshield, the bumpers, headlights, A/C compressor.

            Don't get me wrong, I think it is a good business practice to make the OS as lean as possible, but within reason. It's nice to have things like windshields.

            I'm just calling BS on his 'innocent' Win7 feature request, he has ulterior motives.
            mikefarinha
          • Not really BS

            First of all, Vista is notorious for being slow, so maybe you're just reading something into this that Adrian didn't intend.

            More importantly, I don't think it's unreasonable to have a way to notify the OS that you're going to be doing a single task and to change the method of operation from normal multi-tasking to shutting down all unnecessary services immediately.

            And yes, I read that Vista shut some stuff down when there's a large drain. That's a different matter entirely. Adrian wants to tell the OS BEFORE he starts doing his task, not wait until the OS notices that it's under heavy load. The OS can never be sure how much to turn off if you don't tell it explicitly.

            There's a reason DOS games were wicked fast for their time: they ran on the metal and the OS got out of the way.
            daengbo