It appears that a portion of Microsoft’s “Windows 7” training materials have been released into the wild by a BestBuy employee.  Why is this news?  Well, a section of the training compared Windows 7 to Linux.  The education material provided information that could help better position Windows 7 versus Linux.

You can view the Windows 7 training screen shots related to Linux here.

The Windows vs. Linux comparison material is likely defendable, but does not paint Microsoft as the open source enlightened company that they’d like to become, or at least be viewed as.  I should clarify “likely defendable”.  Most of the screen shots are, in my view, accurate.  It’s difficult to argue that any other OS has broader support for printers, digital cameras, video cameras, applications or games than Windows.

On the other hand, it is easy to argue with claims that:

“There’s no guarantee that when security vulnerabilities are discovered, an update will be created. Users are on their own.”

Or that Linux does not have “Authorized support”.

These claims are accurate if you’re comparing versus an unsupported community distribution of Linux.  But these claims are plain wrong if you’re comparing versus a supported Ubuntu or Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop.

Microsoft could have handled this potential for misinformation by adding another column for “Supported Linux” or adding a note at the bottom of each table.

Now here’s the surprising thing.  BestBuy doesn’t sell Linux machines.  So why in the world would Microsoft want to provide this information to BestBuy sales representatives?  I understand that these types of marketing enablement material is created once, and used essentially as-is for several audiences.  Some of Microsoft’s sales channels certainly also sell Linux machines.  Hence, this education was intended for them, and not necessarily BestBuy.

Note to Microsoft; tailor these materials by audience in the future.  Or even better, don’t deliver marketing enablement for certain audiences that you wouldn’t feel confident publishing on your public website.  This applies to Microsoft as much as any vendor.

What I don’t understand is why Microsoft is even putting Windows 7 on the same page as desktop Linux.  This may be a comparison that I or other open source proponents want to see.  But it’s not a comparison that typical PC buyers consider.  Why isn’t OS X in that comparison table?  Shouldn’t Microsoft be comparing with the operating system that PC buyers consider to be comparable, if not superior, to Windows 7? Maybe that was another section of the training material?

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

News that Windows 7 preorders are selling like hotcakes in the US, Japan and now the UK begs the question, why?

The limited time only discounts on preorders surely helped.  But with Amazon UK reporting that they’ve sold more copies of Windows 7 in the first 8 hours of sales than in the entire 17 week Vista preorder period, during which discounts were also available, this cannot be the only reason.

It could be, as mashable reports, that positive reviews from the press are helping Windows 7 sell much better than Windows Vista.  But in today’s open source world, virtually no PC user would preorder Windows 7 based on press views alone.  Users today expect to try the software before deciding to part with their money.

Whoever at Microsoft decided to open up the Windows 7 beta and release candidate testing program to anyone wishing to try out the new OS deserves kudos.

By opening up the testing program Microsoft has increased the number of testers and chances of finding edge case bugs.  Successful open source projects highlight the benefits of a large set of users whose use uncovers bugs that formal testing did not or could not find.  I know of several people who have used Windows 7 as their primary operating system for over 2 months.  All six of them are quite impressed with the quality of release candidate and have preordered Windows 7.  This shift from user to purchaser is also a mainstay of the open source business model.  Although, one could argue that the Windows 7 model is more related to the shareware model than an open source business model.  Fair enough.  But I’d argue both models rely on adoption led marketing.  Up until now, open source vendors have set the example for successful adoption led marketing.  With Windows 7, I’d argue that Microsoft is pulling up its socks and relearning the value of happy users before a product goes on sale.  It’s safe to assume that future versions of Windows will encompass an open beta and release candidate program.  Attract users and then convert them into buyers.  Simple enough, eh?

Have you tried Windows 7? Good enough to convince you to preorder?

PS: I tried Windows 7 on VirtualBox and have to say it was a good experience.  I dreaded helping my father-in-law with his Vista laptop, but found Windows 7 stable and fairly intuitive.  Is that enough for me to purchase Windows 7? Not yet, but time will tell.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PPS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”