Did Microsoft miss the boat with Vista?

Boy, our good friend Stuart Crawford has opened up a great topic of conversation, and I’m certain it will generate a lot of commentary. In his blog post titled "Is Microsoft really to blame?", Stuart says:

"I have had some interesting conversations with clients that are refusing to look at Vista as an operating system for their new systems, pretty soon they will have no choice as the June 30th date for the taps to be shut off on XP on OEM systems rapidly approaches.  What are you going to do?  Downgrade, well we have had some pretty bad horror stories on the entire downgrade story.  Just today I heard in my office that one of my engineers was having continuous BSOD’s(Blue Screen of Death) during the downgrade process.

Who is to blame in the slow adoption of Vista?  Is it the MAC/PC ads and Microsoft’s slow or even lack of advertising to combat it?  Is it the partners who have not adopted Vista or even blessed it?  Is the OEM"s who continuously keep offering XP?  Is the ISV partners who still have buggy code on Vista?  Is it the device manufacturers who do not have device drivers?  I think it is a combination of all of the above.  All of this and Vista has been out for 18 months."

Read Stuart’s complete post, along with some excellent comments here.

I have some very clear opinions on this topic, and had to add my comments to Stuart’s blog as well.

MSP University participated in a recent Microsoft in-the-field training series pilot titled "Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Better Together!" for Michael Murphy from the Microsoft Local Engagement Team (LET). This was an event that brought together Microsoft area resources, partners, Partner Readiness, East Region Breadth, MSAM, and the Windows Server and Vista BMO.

The pilot’s goal was to drive Server sales in the area by educating Small Business-focused Partners on Server family and Windows Vista SP1 messaging by emphasizing solution selling, product differentiation and understanding of the licensing models and offers in the market.

The event series targeted SBSC’s, Low Volume VAR’s and tPAM-managed Partners.

Our role centered on educating and training the attendees in sales techniques and overcoming objections to close Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista sales.

Although evaluations of the overall event series were excellent (averaging 9+ in all categories), I was most challenged during the overcoming objections modules for Windows Vista, with the most common complaint from attendees at every single event the perception that Microsoft really dropped the ball by including the BitLocker feature only in the Ultimate version of Vista; as you mention, Stuart, and leaving it out of the Business version.

It was the consensus among attendees that including BitLocker in the Business version of Vista would have been a compelling enough reason for their clients to make the decision to migrate, barring any incompatibility issues in the environment.

Another concern raised was the attendees’ and their clients’ reticence to feel comfortable deploying Vista until SP1, which addresses numerous other issues voiced during our events.

Additionally, it hasn’t helped change the "I’ll wait until the last possible moment to upgrade" attitude of the attendees’ clients when Bill Gates begins commenting on the timeline for the next version of Windows, or Microsoft’s complete lack of response to the creative and effective Mac marketing machine, as Erik points out.

As a result of my experience during these pilot events, I have changed my position from believing clients were just resistant to change; as Arlin points out, when encountering resistance to Vista upgrades. As our clients’ Trusted Advisor, we did sell and implement Vista refreshes in the right scenarios, but like many of the attendees to the Microsoft event series we helped conduct, there were many client environments (including our own) that we could not fully refresh at the time of Vista launch due to LOB or hardware driver incompatibilities.

Now I fully understand the rationale behind blaming 3rd party vendors for not having their solutions Vista-ready, but folks – in the end, does that argument really hold water? The bottom line is that these are real business issues preventing clients from wholeheartedly getting behind Vista – Trusted Advisor or not. And frankly, we as the Trusted Advisors are the ones to identify incompatibilities and steer clients away from Vista when it would negatively impact their business processes, efficiencies and profitability.

I personally think that Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has come up with for the desktop yet, but this topic contains so many compelling arguments on both sides that standing firmly on either side of the argument is a real challenge.

Let’s open this up for discussion – I’d like your comments.

Erick Simpson
MSP University
www.mspu.us

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Absolute Best Practices with Erick Simpson and Karl Palachuk at Harry Brelsford’s SMBNation Conference

Come out and spend some time with me and my good friend Karl Palachuk on October 3rd, 2008 in Seattle, WA a day before Harry Brelsford’s SMBNation for Karl’s 4th Annual SMBNation Pre-day Extravaganza (Karl’s title – no comments please).

I guarantee it will be a great event, as we will be focused completely on best practices for operating a successful IT and Managed Services business. Here is the essential data:

Friday, October 3, 2008
Marriott Hotel
2 – 6 PM
2100 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98121

Register Now

Whether you’re new to SMB Consulting, or an old hand, you’ll learn a lot of great new stuff from these two authors and successful SMB Consultants.

No matter where you are in the process, you’ll find valuable best practice tips in this four hour seminar. From managing client relationships to hiring employees, from sales and marketing to running a service board. We’ll cover it all.

Have you ever noticed that, in anything you do, there are only a handful of key rules that account for the vast majority of your success? In this seminar, two successful consultanta — who have each sold millions of dollars in services — will give you the nuggets you need to move your SMB Consulting practice to the next level.

  1. Four Hours of Best Practices with Erick Simpson and Karl Palachuk
  2. Click here for more information
  3. For information and tips on finding good hotels, and other pre-day events, please visit www.smbpreday.com.
  4. Click here to sign up for the new Yahoo Group dedicated to sharing rides and rooms at SMB events. This site is for ICCA, Tech Ed, WPC, and everything else. It’s not specific to SMBNation, but that seems like a great event to kick off the resource.

Special Offer #1:

Every person who registers for this event will receive two FREE Audio Books!

Special Offer #2:

All attendees will receive a special discount on my next book: “The Best IT Service Delivery BOOK EVER! – Break-Fix, Managed Services, Professional Services and Hardware Warranty Services, which we’ll launch at the event!

Register Now

Erick Simpson
MSP University
www.mspu.us

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