Microsoft's message to IT pros: Meet us half way with Windows 7

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is confident about Windows 7. But he's nowhere near as outwardly cocky about the business prospects for the operating system as he and other Microsoft execs were with previous Windows releases.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is confident about Windows 7. But he's nowhere near as outwardly cocky about the business prospects for the operating system as he and other Microsoft execs were with previous Windows releases.

In fact, Ballmer told IT pros during a low-key September 29 business-launch kick-off event "thanks for your consideration of Windows 7."

Ballmer and a handful of invited corporate Microsoft customers took to the stage for Microsoft's "The New Efficiency" event today. The overall theme of the hour-and-a-half event -- which was live in San Francisco and Webcast, as well -- was how IT pros can, with less, do more.

The products that Microsoft touted during the event included Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Exchange Server 2010, and, to a lesser extent, the Forefront enterprise security suite and System Center management line.

Ballmer said it was Microsoft's job to help IT pros get corporate buy-in for Windows 7. He said Microsoft was responsible for half that effort (actually, he pegged the number at 60 percent). But the other 40 percent of the job was up to enterprise users. They're the ones who need to convince their purse-string-controlling bosses that it's worth upgrading to Windows 7, in spite of tight budgets and cost-cutting pressures.

"We have to help you make the business case," Ballmer said.

Ballmer's push for Microsoft's soon-to-be-introduced products boiled down to a few key messages.

  • Windows 7: It makes everyday tasks easier to achieve anywhere
  • Windows Server 2008 R2: It provides next-generation and control (and Hyper-V offers users more options for consolidating servers)
  • MDOP: It helps streamline PC management
  • Exchange 2010: Its new back-end storage management are a boon

Because I write so often about Microsoft's enterprise products and strategy, none of what Ballmer said today was a surprise. It's the Microsoft "better together" messaging in new bottles.

The only thing that surprised me was I noticed during the demo that Microsoft has renamed its Outlook Web Access (OWA) feature in Exchange 2010 to "Outlook Web App." I discovered that the company had done this in August of this year. Given Microsoft's recent acknowledgment that it is going to keep the "Office Web Apps" name for its forthcoming suite of Webified Office products, I find the new OWA name rather confusing. Word Web App, PowerPoint Web App, OneNote Web App and Excel Web App are all part of Office Web Apps. Outlook Web App is not.

Microsoft is making case study information and trial versions of its Windows 7 and final and/or beta releases of its related enterprise products available on its New Efficiency Web site.