Microsoft works to keep Windows 7 momentum strong

Pushes deals with notebook makers and upgrades

Windows 7, by all accounts, has been a hit for Microsoft, making "Vista ... a thing of the past," according to one analyst. Still, the company wants to keep up the momentum, as well as build sales in the enterprise market, and so is having a sale.

Microsoft this week touted deals on PCs running Windows 7 with several computer manufacturers and if you look closely at some of the deals, you can see how they are targeted at a business customer. Take, for instance Sony, which is advertising a VAIO E series laptop running Windows 7 Professional starting at $799.99. While Microsoft touts the consumer-oriented features of the laptop like a Blu-ray disk drive and a $90 credit to buy movies to play on it, it also points out that Windows 7 Professional includes a feature called XP Mode, which provides backwards compatibility so software applications designed for Windows XP can run in 7.

The XP Mode feature could be a deal maker for an enterprise deciding whether to adopt Windows 7. For an individual consumer to upgrade their OS is no big deal, but for an enterprise, it's a sizable and potentially costly undertaking. A Microsoft reseller, Rand Morimoto of Convergent Computing, explained how XP Mode can make an enterprise upgrade easier in a presentation Tuesday in San Francisco.

Microsoft is also offering a $50 discount to anyone who buys a Windows 7 Professional laptop on Amazon.com from Dell, HP, Gateway and Asus. It is also discounting Windows 7 upgrades at its own online Microsoft Store for those who already have a Windows 7 machine. The price of an upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium has been reduced to $49.99 from $79.99, while an upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional has been reduced to $79.99 from $89.99.

A large enterprise isn't likely to go to Amazon or the Microsoft Store to buy thousands of computers or OS software, but strong consumer demand for Windows 7 could help push adoption in businesses.

The Web site Softpedia reported April 26 that Microsoft has sold 100 million copies of Windows 7 since it launched in November 2009 and is on track to sell 200 million by the end of 2010. Softpedia reported earlier that Microsoft recorded a 234 percent increase in unit sales of Windows 7 its first week on the market over the same unit volume for Vista its first week on the market.

“Vista is a thing of the past," TBR senior analyst Allan Krans told Softpedia. "The long-term test for Windows 7 will be corporate adoption over the next two years, but at this point it appears Microsoft has weathered the storm of customer uncertainty created by Windows Vista."

If you're an enterprise IT administrator, let me know if you think Windows 7's strong consumer sales will influence your decision to upgrade to it in your organization.

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