Most of the Windows 7 features Microsoft has demonstrated and touted for the
past few months have been aimed at consumers, not business users.
Sure, if you really pushed the Softies, you could get someone to admit there
might be a feature or two--like Direct Access VPN-less
connectivity or Branche Cache support--that would appeal to enterprise
users. But it definitely hasn't been a big theme for Microsoft so far.
(If your closest OS competitor--not counting pirated copies
and older versions of Windows--is Apple, focusing the conversation around
consumers instead of business users makes sense.)
On March 4, Microsoft officials shifted the Windows 7 marketing machine to
the business side of the house. Via a posting to the Windows Team blog,
Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft Senior Director for Windows Commercial Product
Management, highlighted the
process and planning behind Windows 7 Enterprise.
Schuster said that Microsoft spent six months analyzing enterprise trends and
doing planning around how Windows 7 would address business-users' concerns
before the Windows team did any coding.
"We brought (just a little over 100 business-focused) customers in during our
envisioning and planning process," she said. These 100--with whom Microsoft
has shared alpha and beta product builds--include about 30 who comprise
Microsoft's Desktop Advisory Council.
The DAC participants come from a wide
variety of vertical industries. They are supplemented by OEMs, ISVs and about 30
Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers who also have provided input on the
enterprise features for Windows 7, Schuster said. There are also a number of
testers who Microsoft labels as "First Wave" program participants who are
deploying Windows 7 today.
Schuster attributed tweaks to policy-management, deployment tools, federated
search, security and remote-access functionality in Windows 7 to suggestions and
advice from these users.
Microsoft has been taking
a lot of heat lately for its feedback processes around
Windows 7. Schuster's blog post was probably in response, in large part, to
that criticism. But her post also leads us to wonder whether business users have
found any of the new features in early builds of Windows 7 reason enough to
consider upgrading--especially in this tough economic climate.
This article was first published as a blog post on ZDNet.com.