Will current SKU strategy continue for Windows 7?

Yesterday Ed Bott brought up the topic of Windows 7’s moniker, now fellow ZDNET colleague brings up the important issue of Microsoft’s marketing of the product. Will Windows 7 continue to carry the same amount of SKU’s as Windows Vista? The strategy has received a lot of backlash, persons note that it confuses users from making the right choice. Then again, the purpose of so many editions of Vista was to make buying the right version Windows for your needs easier. Looks like a lot of us never got that message.

Quote:

“Now, ideally I’d like to see Microsoft return to a situation where there’s one consumer and one professional flavor of Windows. In fact, why not take it a step further and adopt the Mac approach and go with a single version. From a marketing/sales POV that’s not likely to happen, but if the OS is designed to be modular, there’s no reason why it couldn’t work.

Another reason why a return to a simpler time is unlikely is because Microsoft seems to have embraced the idea of numerous flavors not only with Windows but also with Office, which now ships in no less than five different flavors. Office 2007 was developed under the leadership of Steven Sinofsky. Sinofsky now leads the Windows team.”

Read the entire article here

I personally have made some suggestions toward this, one which I left in wish list I made in the Channel9 Coffeehouse.

Vista has been the most controversial to date. Microsoft, you gotta make this easy, you gotta make people be enthused and not confused or heartbroken. I have seen stupidity happen over this very same SKU fiasco in my lab and I am sick of defending it!

“I got Ultimate and you don’t and you are running Home Basic which is like the worst edition” even between premium SKU’s I have witnessed arguments.

Kara: “I’m running Vista Ultimate 32-bit and its way better and have all the features”.

Wolli: Actually, I am running the better edition of Vista, Home Premium 64-bit, because it’s more secure and is not susceptible viruses like the 32-bit one and it can use more memory.

Stop! Ok, one more.

Cian: “I am running Vista Home Basic and I feel left out”.

How can we solve this? The SKU strategy needs to be redesigned, here’s a tip:
Cut out Windows Vista Ultimate, it does not make sense – I have witnessed over 30 notebooks running Vista where I study and only 3 I see are running Ultimate, the majority is Home Basic or Home Premium. Rare cases will you see even a Business Vista based computer.

The SKU strategy for Windows 7 must be like this:

  • Windows 7 Home – same strategy as Vista Home basic, supports upgrading from XP Home Edition and Vista Home Basic. Decent looking theme (AERO Glass). I am sure by 2010; most computers will have a powerful enough card to at least run this theme.
  • Windows 7 Business (Eliminate Enterprise, let whatever unique functionality it offers be add on under software assurance). This would in fact I believe spur more Company’s to actually sign up, and push the initiative of software as a service in the Enterprise and revamp some of Microsoft’s businesses like SA and EA.
  • Windows 7 Premium – Includes Media Center and all multimedia features and the successor to Ultimate. Persons who upgrade from Vista Ultimate to 7 Premium must get access to all the same and improved functionality. So, things like Domain Join for instance that is in Ultimate, but is not a default feature of 7 Premium, must be carried over, just write it off as an add on purchased by the user, similar to what I described earlier. I can give an example of this. Remember when the first version of XP MCE was released? It included Domain Join, but subsequent versions after that were done through clean installs did not include Domain Join, but if you upgraded from say MCE v1 to MCE 2004 or 2005, the Domain Join functionality is retained, yeah, it’s something like that.

Pricing:

- Windows 7 Home – $100 (no upgrade pricing, just let there be a $100 dollar edition of Windows like there use to be). $160 family pack, supports up to 5 computers in the home and stick to it too, don’t back out 7 months into the program.

- Windows 7 Business – $200 ($140 upgrade), don’t make this SKU a hard bargain, make persons who actually want business features and business features only actually want to buy this SKU. Again, it should also replace Vista Enterprise. When I plug in a UTP cable, it should automatically be able to detect a Domain, type of Network and guide the user to successfully join and access resources just by providing username, password and domain name. Diagnosis should be informative, explanation of how to join a domain, what the Administrator might not have provided to the end user to make you join the network, what the administrator might be doing wrong on his/her end. Make it easy for users to bring home work and continue accessing resources remotely.

- Windows 7 Premium – $200 ($140 upgrade), Multimedia based version of Windows 7 that includes all the features of Home Basic and all the latest rich consumer experiences on the PC, from Parental controls, to a premium experience with Windows Live, Media Center and so on, I am sure you can bundle some goodies to make it a key differentiator. $350 family pack for 3 computers, make people want to see value in it enough to spend that kind of money on an OS.

- And stick to this strategy for all eternity.

There you have it, three SKU’s that can be easily adopted by mainstream markets. If I had my way, I would personally eliminate even the basic Home SKU and just have Windows 7 Business and Premium. Yes, there are compromises, but at the same time I believe this strategy shuts up the point about bloat in Windows. It gives consumers, SMBs and Enterprises choice and an easy way to get Windows 7 with the features they do need.

Check out my other wishes, (some of which I have discovered can be resolved already in Vista) here

Resources:

Windows 7 Preview Teching It Easy

More Windows 7 screenshots

Will Windows 7 Get a Final Moniker? Ed Bott ask

48 Comments

Filed under Windows 7

48 responses to “Will current SKU strategy continue for Windows 7?

  1. Kumaran

    I absolutely agree with you. Glad to see somebody talk about this.

  2. John

    How about users whom want the features that are in bus, and home prem version.  This is the reason why I got ultimate.

  3. Andre

    Hi Medford,There is a clear distinction, and the point of having a separate business and consumer SKUs is to give users the features they need and choice while avoiding bloat. The clear separations in Vista Business are features like Domain Join, Remote Desktop and Enterprise Encryption. Things you are most likely not gonna need if you are at home. You seem to be a more dynamic user, maybe you use your notebook at home and work, you might be joining a Domain, but when you are at home, you like the do things like record TV shows in Media Center or use your XBOX as Media Extender.

  4. CJM

    Hi Andre Da Costa,
    I do a lot of server work, so I do need Domain(use server at the home as well).   I use the XBOX 360, Media Center, and the Zune.  I also want Previous Version, Full system backup, etc.  I know about 20% of my customers have Ultimate, because they do stuff very similar to what I do.
    It is not easy to make everyone happy.  There are people on both sides.  Users whom only want a machine for internet and mail (no media center, no DVD, no anything), then users on the other side.   I don\’t see any way MSFT could make less then 4 version, and have a happy medium.   I know several people that were unhappy when they had XP Home or Pro because they could do Media Center, or Pro stuff,  some people were unhappy because they had Media Center, and didn\’t have the stuff from pro.
    Can\’t Win either way.

  5. Chris

    Why can\’t it just be one version with everything… all this effort trying to figure out how to make one way to do it more complicated than the next. Just one version… you sell it for a price right down the middle of all these version and be done with it. PLEASE.

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