Partners Get Their Marching Orders on Marketing Vista
Windows Vista or else, says Ballmer to partners.
- By Scott Bekker
Microsoft is beginning to coach partners on how to pitch the upcoming
Windows Vista operating system to business customers.
A major operating system release is the biggest of Microsoft channel
opportunities. Analysts anticipate that between 100 million and 130 million
PCs will ship with Windows Vista by the end of 2007 and the release is
expected to stimulate hardware, software and services purchases. In the
run-up to a major launch, Microsoft spends years educating ISVs and corporate
developers, months preparing solution providers and IT administrators
and weeks of intensive end-user marketing. With the OS currently scheduled
for full release early next year, the company's efforts to ready the solution
provider channel are in full swing now.
In a series of training presentations available on its partner site,
Microsoft has outlined its marketing campaigns for the OS so that partners
can begin crafting their own business plans and developing sales and marketing
While the snazzy "Aero Glass" interface gets the most attention, Microsoft
wants partners to focus business customers' attention on the security
and reliability that the company contends were the top priority in this
release, which has been five years in development.
Offering a "sneak preview" of Microsoft's marketing plans, the presentations
note that the company's marketing approach centers on working with partners
to deliver specific "customer scenarios" for Windows Vista.
"These Customer Scenarios represent identified hot spots of customer
demand where Windows Vista delivers functionality above and beyond previous
versions of Windows, and where partners can add their products and services
to deliver a complete package of value to customers," a Microsoft presentation
Microsoft is tailoring those scenarios to two audiences: small businesses
and midsize/enterprise organizations. Continued next page
Small-business scenarios emphasize basic functions, including:
- Data back-up and security
- Mobility and collaboration
- Sales and marketing
- Financial management
Midsize/enterprise scenarios emphasize ways that customers can:
- Optimize desktop infrastructure
- Enable mobile workers
- Improve security and compliance
- Find and use information
The first two small-business scenarios -- data back-up and security
and mobility and collaboration -- are fairly self-explanatory. Both depend
on new OS features that partners can enable and enhance. In those areas,
Microsoft is trying to provide small businesses with the IT practices
for security and disaster recovery and the advanced capabilities in mobility
and collaboration that larger organizations have used for years.
Windows Vista represents an overhaul of the editions
of the Windows desktop. Business-focused partners need
to understand three main versions:
Windows Vista Business This is the recommended
version for business desktops and mobile PCs in companies
ranging from small businesses to large enterprises.
It goes beyond consumer editions by including:
- Windows Tablet and Touch Technology
- Windows Mobility Center and Windows MeetingSpace
- Domain Join
- Group Policy support
- Encrypting File System
- Small business-specific features (Windows Fax and
Scan and Small Business Resources)
Windows Vista Enterprise Available only through
Software Assurance, this version goes beyond Windows
Vista Business with:
- Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption
- All worldwide user-interface languages
- Virtual PC Express
- Subsystem for UNIX Applications (SUA)
Windows Vista Ultimate Billed as the "flagship"
edition for consumer and small business desktop and
mobile PCs, this version includes all the home entertainment
features of Vista Home Premium and the business features
of Windows Vista Enterprise -- at a premium price. --
For the sales and marketing scenario, Microsoft is emphasizing the ability
of small businesses, with partner help, to respond faster to business
opportunities and stay connected to customers. Some of this capability
depends on a cross-sell -- Vista features integrated with CRM applications
and sales-management applications from Microsoft and others. But a few
capabilities, such as enhanced Windows Search and Windows MeetingSpace,
are billed as stand-alone improvements that partners can help small business
customers develop into sales and marketing aids.
Likewise, the financial-management customer scenario has cross-sell
and stand-alone angles for partners. In addition to offering integration
with financial-management applications and online-payment services, partners
can add value through synchronization manager functionality that Microsoft
says will help small companies streamline business processes and share
financial information with outside parties. Microsoft says that Vista's
Windows Presentation Foundation will also make it easier to visually analyze
financial data through charts and graphs.
While small-business customer scenarios focus on the basics, midsize-
and enterprise-company scenarios revolve around more sophisticated capabilities.
Third-Party Gear and Goodies
Most ISVs, IHVs and OEMs have a pretty good idea
by now what kinds of devices and solutions they'll bring
out to leverage new capabilities in Windows Vista. Many
such efforts remain deep in development labs and haven't
been heavily marketed yet. But here are examples of
the kinds of solutions that Microsoft expects will be
available for resale by solution providers:
Data Backup and Security
- Applications that use Windows Security Center to
manage user subscriptions
- Anti-virus and firewall solutions
- External backup devices, such as USB flash drives,
for storing complete system images
Mobility and Collaboration
- Applications that build on Windows Communication
Foundation for seamless and more secure communications
- Applications based on the Windows peer-to-peer
application platform (MeetingSpace)
- Wireless network hardware for seamless network
- Hybrid hard drives that support Windows ReadyDrive
- Mobile PCs that include a secondary display for
- Form factors taking advantage of advances in Tablet
PC and touch-screen capabilities
- Integrated 3G cards
In previous releases, Microsoft emphasized improving ROI or cutting TCO.
The company's first large-company scenario for Vista promotes similar
benefits, but this time in acronym-free verbiage ("Optimize Your Desktop
Infrastructure"). Highlights include extending Group Policy to cover power
settings, USB devices and wireless network policies; user-account control
prompts requiring administrative credentials to install software or drivers;
and self-tuning and self-diagnostics to reduce support incidents.
While the goal for small businesses is enabling mobility, a second larger-company
scenario emphasizes improving the experience of already-mobile employees.
Hard-drive encryption will help keep company data safe if laptop computers
are lost or stolen. Wireless network configuration is simplified, while
data synchronization and mobile collaboration are emphasized for this
Good Old-Fashioned Feature List
Microsoft is laboring to evolve from its traditional
feature-list style of marketing to more benefits-oriented
messaging. But the company wants partners to know which
new features in Windows Vista are best for small businesses.
- Windows Defender
- User Account Protection
- Complete PC Backup and File Backup Wizard
- Windows ShadowCopy
- Remote Desktop Connection
- Windows SideShow
- Instant Search
The security scenario is combined with compliance for larger companies,
acknowledging the increasing regulatory requirements they face. According
to Microsoft, an enhanced EventLogger using XML will allow auditing of
all modifications to files and systems.
Finally, search capabilities are more central to Microsoft's Vista marketing
plans for enterprise and midsize companies. That capability is folded
into the Sales and Marketing customer scenario for small businesses, but
for enterprises, "Find and Use Information" serves as a stand-alone scenario.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.