Microsoft's Reller on Windows 7's first six months (Q&A)

In an interview, Windows marketing VP Tami Reller talks about tablets, the demise of the Windows 7 family pack, and the state of the Netbook computer.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
3 min read

When Microsoft Windows marketing VP Tami Reller stopped by CNET's offices on Friday, the main topic of discussion was the warm reception that Windows 7 has been getting from businesses and consumers.

As the company said in its recent earnings report, Microsoft has sold more than 100 million licenses for Windows 7 and now estimates that one in 10 PCs worldwide is running the operating system.

"We feel really good about the results overall in the consumer side," Reller said. "The other thing we saw this past quarter is a signal that businesses are really heating up on Windows 7 deployment. We think that really has started and will aggressively ramp."

But, I also wanted to dig on some other topics that come up frequently in questions from CNET readers. Nope, I didn't get her to spill the beans on Windows 8. In fact, I wouldn't expect to hear much, if anything, this year about any version of Windows other than Windows 7.

And, I didn't get her to say anything about Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Microsoft said in March that the update would be quite minor, largely consisting of previously released bug fixes and updates. When asked whether it would be on PCs by the holidays, Reller just sat in silence.

Microsoft corporate VP Tami Reller, along with an assortment of Windows 7 PCs. Ina Fried/CNET

But Reller did have some interesting thoughts on other topics. Here's some of the other things we discussed:

Q: Why did you guys not stick with the family pack. I would say that's one of the consistent questions I get and I don't have a really good answer.
Tami Reller: It was very popular. For the first time we were very proactive with a voice to consumers and an offer to consumers... We were imperfect in predicting demand and the demand was very, very high.

But you guys can print more. This whole "while supplies last" notion with software...It's a business decision to stop it, it's not that you ran out of ink.
Reller: We definitely recognize that there was demand and that was not lost on us and we'll consider that for the future.

What do you see with Netbooks? Have they peaked?
Reller: Netbooks were one of the first steps in really getting this Nth PC idea going. It really showed that, hey, having a PC for when I travel, for when I want to browse the Internet and do some quick e-mail Is compelling. That really is where the Netbook came in. It's stabilized as a percentage of the overall PC. The sweet spot is really in the $500 to $1,000 PC segment. There's just so much diversity and computing power there and that's where a lot of the innovation is.

Even if you look at Netbooks, they've evolved tremendously too. There's Netbooks that continue to be in that really low price band, but some have touch, some are a little larger. Even with that said, they've really stabilized as a percentage (of the market).

How much do you think we'll see this year in terms of slate-form PCs?
Reller: I think we'll see a lot of innovation from the OEMs on touch and I think we'll see a lot of innovation in PCs that really optimize for media consumption and touch.

Do you think most of them will be traditional PCs, with a keyboard?
Reller: I think some will be with a keyboard; I think some will be without a keyboard. I think there will be innovation across the board.

Because we are hearing reports that HP may pull the Windows 7 slate?
Reller: There's been no formal announcements on that.

So have you guys not heard anything to that effect?
We have not made any formal announcements on the Slate.

I'm curious what you guys are hearing?
Reller: There's no announcements.

Do you expect other PC makers to have slate-form PCs this year?
Reller: There's a tremendous amount of innovation happening across the board right now. Some have keyboards, some not. Some convertibles are very interesting. There will be a wide range, just as there was at launch.