The Downside of the Microsoft Marketing Machine

Announcements of new releases cannibalizes adoption of current software

CIO Insight tells us consumers are holding back on buying PCs - either awaiting the arrival of Windows 8 devices or buying tablets and smartphones. IDC reports that anticipation of Windows 8 devices has (predictably) led to sluggish sales of PCs in the last quarter. Once again, the Microsoft marketing machine gets people excited about software that isn't quite here yet, causing people to wait for that next release rather than getting something sooner, albeit without the latest bells and whistles.

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And it's not only for consumer software, such as client operating systems or tablets. Adoption of what is now the previous generation of System Center products slowed to a trickle last year as organizations awaited the release of System Center 2012.

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Historically, Microsoft has announced new software long before it is available. This is partially because of its strong customer beta testing program, but also because Redmond wants to generate hype. But in the process, they cannibalize sales and adoption of the current version of software.

Contrast this with another well-known company, Apple. Somehow, Apple manages to keep new software under wraps until just before it is released. People may know "something" is coming, but they don't have specifics, and sales don't suffer the way they do for Microsoft. Apple maintains excitement for the current version until the next version is ready.

Don't get me wrong. I have a Windows 7 Phone. But knowing a Windows 8 Phone is on the horizon, I would hesitate to buy a Windows 7 Phone knowing that it soon will be outdated (and in this particular case, not even upgradeable). And that's because of that marketing hype...

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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