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Will business users bite on Windows 7?

Microsoft officials have shifted the Windows 7 marketing machine to the business side of things.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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