Windows 7 pricing is potentially an obstacle to Windows 7 adoption for some users, though in just about every other aspect the operating system is beating Vista, according to a Dell marketing executive.
"If there's one thing that may influence adoption, make things slower or cause customers to pause, it's that generally the ASPs (average selling price) of the operating systems are higher than they were for Vista and XP," Darrel Ward, director of product management for Dell's business client product group, said in a phone interview, referring to the various versions of the Windows 7 operating system that are expected to appear.
Ward continued. "In tough economic times, I think it's naive to believe that you can increase your prices on average and then still see a stronger swell than if you held prices flat or even lowered them. I can tell you that the licensing tiers at retail are more expensive than they were for Vista."
In the business market, Windows 7 Professional is expected to be more expensive than Windows Vista Business, the version that Professional is replacing, he said.
Some schools and smaller businesses may not be early adopters due to price. "Schools and government agencies may not be able to afford (the additional cost). Some of the smaller businesses may not be able to enjoy the software as soon as they'd like," Ward said.
Pricing aside, Ward said momentum behind Windows 7 is big compared with Vista. "When Vista came out we didn't have the motivation to do the types of services that we're doing now. We didn't have the clear customer demand for such services," he said. "We do have a visible number of customers, large and small, who are actually waiting for Windows 7 and who have already put plans in place to target the transition to Windows 7, they're asking Dell for help. That demand and this opportunity is stronger than it has been in the past," Ward said.
And Dell is already getting its service organization in gear for Windows 7. "Our professional service organization is beginning to structure service offerings specifically designed to help customers migrate their images, their applications, and their management infrastructure, security capabilities and so forth."
More than half of Dell's business customers are still using Windows XP and these customers will eventually have to upgrade, according to Ward. "XP cannot live forever," he said.
To help users migrate from XP to Windows 7, Dell supports the upcoming operating system's XP mode. "It's one of the things that Microsoft is doing that we think is helpful. Putting an instance of XP virtual machine in the higher end SKUs (models). This is another alternative for compatibility. We'll fully support that in our product and consulting services." he said.
Driver readiness is good, with some exceptions. "Driver readiness--it looks pretty healthy compared to the past. (There are) some things that haven't been worked out. The WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Lab) drivers for AMT VPRO is a little behind," he said, referring to Intel's Active Management Technology, which allows remote access to PCs for security, maintenance, and management.
Generally, however, Windows 7 is much further along than Vista was at this stage, he said. "But if you look at the ecosystem enabling for Windows 7, it is much further along that it was at the same time for Vista," he said.