Windows launches have always been a mixed bag for me. I started with Windows 95, which set the bar for an event, but as I stepped off the plane coming home I sprained my ankle badly, which became a metaphor for the post-launch disaster that then occurred. Each subsequent launch event was troubled with bad timing, mixed up consumer/corporate messaging, and CEO guests that, at the last moment, behaved like spoiled children. Over time the launch events seemed to be more about hosting an event and people seemed to forget there was a purpose to the thing over and above the event itself.
I spent a number of years as an actor and then as a competitive speaker and watching these things every year was just kind of painful—particularly given how well done the first event was. Well, it seems, with Windows 10 Microsoft (News - Alert) is finding a better groove. Instead of a big central event they are focusing on getting the word out, getting folks the upgrade help they need, and realizing the launch isn’t about a party or about Microsoft; it is about the folks that will be using the new product. They seem to be finally focusing on the right thing: you. Let me explain.
There Are Parties
This doesn’t mean there won’t be celebrations, but they are distributed worldwide and they will be focused on helping people upgrade, and getting the developers in front of the folks who will be using the product so they can get initial feedback first hand.
Outside of the regional events, retailers like Best Buy (News - Alert) and Microsoft stores all over the world will have teams available to help with upgrades and answer questions to make the upgrades go better than they ever have before.
Making a Difference
Rather than focusing on the product much of the advertising will instead focus on what people are doing with it. Particularly honing in on organizations like CARE, Code.org, Keep a Child Alive, Save the Children, and the Special Olympics, millions of dollars will be invested to help these critical organizations upgrade and get value from the result. You can even vote for the non-profit you want added to this list here.
This is only part of the related “Upgrade the World” effort and more funding will be provided to additional charities which will be selected in September as part of the overall effort.
All Hands On Deck
Perhaps the biggest example of how different this is comes from how big the upgrade effort is. Historically everyone in the Windows group busted their butts to get the product out the door and then when the customers got it, they mostly went off on long vacations. So just about the time when you had millions of people having installation and upgrade problems, the folks most able to assist with getting those problems resolved were off basking in the sun, sipping cocktails with tiny umbrellas in them. This is why support calls were so frustrating and the lines of callers seemed endless.
Well no vacations this time, this launch is all hands on deck and I’m noticing a few folks are getting their vacations done before the launch so they will be around during the upgrade push. The number of people that have reserved the upgrade are in the millions and this will be the first Windows upgrade which didn’t have CD distribution scheme as primary. With one billion devices slated for upgrade, they’ll likely set some records despite the fact that they are gating the upgrades so they don’t overwhelm the support folks.
I think, historically, the problems with Windows tended to come from the firm increasingly forgetting about users and instead focusing on events, getting the product shipped (Windows Vista and Windows 8 in particular), and focusing on commercial buyers (which really started with Windows XP). When Microsoft was great they focused on the actual users of their products and this Windows 10 launch appears to be a major effort to return the firm back to what it once was.
I’ve been using Windows 10 for about a year now and I’ve been particularly impressed with how many improvements they’ve made over the last three months without breaking anything. I even upgraded an old Windows Vista system that didn’t have driver support and it is actually working surprisingly well.
One interesting fact is that Microsoft is trying to convince a lot of us that upgrading is as safe as a clean installation. I’m not there yet but have to admit the upgrade process has been incredibly clean even on machines like the one above that really shouldn’t have been.
In the end, I expect the Windows 10 upgrade will be one for the record books.