By David Worthington | Monday, January 4, 2010 at 6:23 pm
Sometimes Microsoft’s biggest competitor is itself. Huge numbers of businesses are still using Windows XP, and Microsoft is acting aggressively to migrate them to Windows 7 by extending a promotion that offers Windows 7 and Office 2007 for half price.
Windows Vista is by many accounts a better operating system than XP, but nearly 90 percent of businesses bypassed the upgrade, and opted to stick with Windows XP, because it was “good enough” for them. Office XP presents Microsoft with a similar problem.
Microsoft is addressing its “good enough’ problem by broadening a licensing promotion called the “Up to Date Discount,” which is targeted at small/mid-size business (SMB) customers who continue to use old versions of the company’s products. It provides current Microsoft products at half off the suggested retail pricing. The program was set to expire on June 30, and was initially limited in scope to Windows Vista and Office 2003.
The promotion does have some catches: It is only available to first year Open Value Subscription (OVS) customers, resellers’ prices may vary, and it’s limited to Professional editions of Office and Windows. Customers that sign up for the program will receive Office 2010 when it ships (it’s expected to arrive this summer).
Another Microsoft promotional offer called “The Big Easy,” allots subsidies to customers to spend with Microsoft partners that increase when they purchase multiple qualifying product groups or if Software Assurance is added to an order. That offer runs between January 3 and March 31, and requires customers to enroll in one of several Microsoft subscription programs.
While those licensing promotions provide appealing discounts, I’m not convinced whether they actually make upgrading anymore compelling for SMBs. My family owns an business that manufacturers fire protection products, and solicits my opinion from time to time.
Upgrading is always a hard sell. Legacy compatibility is oftentimes far more important than features such as a multi-function task bar– especially when old applications are invaluable to the day to day operation of the business.
When I was asked whether Windows Vista was worth it, my brother was happy to hear that Vista had improved security and management capabilities. But a single application (one that was a big investment) was enough to make Vista no-go.
The cost of replacing business applications can far outweigh the benefit of upgrading Windows. As long as Microsoft keep security vulnerability patches up-to-date, “good enough” is truly good enough for many of its customers.