An interview with Microsoft?s general manager and worldwide commercial director for Windows 7, Rich Reynolds

Windows 7: One year on

Windows 7 has been an undeniable success. A year after launch the operating system has grown to take around 18 per cent of the global market, with analysts Forrester predicting that 89 per cent of American and European companies will make the switch to Windows 7 over the next two years.

Performance has been so strong that Microsoft’s general manager and worldwide commercial director for Windows 7, Rich Reynolds, is justifiably proud of the latest incarnation of the iconic operating system.

“Whatever dimension you look at, we’ve been very pleased,” Reynolds tells PCR. “We’ve had 240 million licenses sold, customer satisfaction is very high – some studies quote around 94 per cent. Even the deployment has been very fast. It’s currently standing at around 18 per cent of the 1.2 billion PCs around the world, meaning there’s about 200 million PCs currently running Windows 7. So from whatever perspective you look at it, it’s been very successful.”

The uptake of Microsoft’s latest operating system has outstripped all of its predecessors, and Reynolds notes that deployment has been twice as fast as that of Windows XP and three times faster than Vista. One factor in the strong consumer response was the sense of excitement around its launch as users signed up for the beta programme and saw for themselves the benefits of Windows 7.

“What’s driving it is three things: one is end user enthusiasm, so the consumerisation of IT is working for us in many ways as people use it at home and then push for their company to adopt it,” Reynolds comments. “Also, IT value includes enhanced security, BitLocker encryption, enhanced management with single image deployment and so on. Then the third factor is the ability to take cost out of their organisations. When you combine these things together that’s partly what’s driving the very positive momentum as consumers are seeing the great value in Windows 7.”

Microsoft is naturally in a strong position to talk about the benefits of consumerisation, but as one of the world’s leading business software providers, the company has a holistic position in the market – especially as the lines between the two begin to blur.

“We think we’re in a unique position because we have these big consumer services,” observes Reynolds. “There’s something like 400 million Hotmail users, a similar number of Messenger users, and we’ve recently come out with Kinect, so we have a good sense for what consumers want. But we’re also providing enterprise solutions, so we’re unique in being able to bridge both worlds and provide that guidance to IT as it thinks through its strategies for the future.”

As the Western economies continue down a rocky road, a major strategy that almost every business is looking at is reducing the time and cost investment required in their own organisations, as well as offering a flexible and valuable service to their clients.

“Our vision is to provide flexibility so that IT can provide flexible, creative options for their end users, and at the same time ensure it’s secure and well managed,” explains Reynolds.

“Interestingly, BMW and Expedia were on a panel recently and they were both talking about how they were using application virtualisation, and how they were more able to rapidly deliver applications to their end users, so it literally went from a process that took weeks, to less than a week, with costs reduced by around 90 per cent.”

One of the core features of Microsoft’s vision for the future is the deployment of cloud services. The company’s last Worldwide Partner Conference saw the company outline its commitment to the cloud, and its first platform for cloud services, called InTune, is currently in beta phase.

In fact, Microsoft is in an excellent position to offer these kinds of services. It has the global reach and solid investment potential that would allow it to really push the boundaries of what the cloud can deliver. So is Microsoft aiming to become the worlds leading cloud services provider?

“Certainly the strategy for the organisation broadly is the cloud. I don’t know if we would say number one in every cloud service, but it is a core strategy that we’re driving to every part of our business,” says Reynolds.

“Essentially if you think about most of our business where we offer on premises solutions today, just about every one of those services has a strategic direction to offer those abilities in the cloud moving forward. So it’s absolutely a strategic direction for us, and to offer the choice to customers if they want it on-premises, or private cloud or public cloud.”

He concludes: “We believe there are compelling benefits for IT to move in that direction and we believe that to compete in the cloud space as a vendor requires massive scale and frankly we’re one of the few companies on the planet that are making that level of investment, so absolutely it’s a key strategic direction for us.”

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