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You’ve got to hand it to Microsoft. They do get marketing.

In what is turning out to be a spectacular example of spinning a
negative into a positive, the software company’s missteps and ultimate
failure to entice the market with Windows Vista has become a key
selling point for the forthcoming Windows 7.

Even Microsoft executives, notoriously remiss to admit failure related
to their products, are fully acknowledging mistakes made in how Vista
was developed, communicated to partners and ultimately brought to
market. And while a year ago, many were still pumping the operating
system up in the marketplace and talking about a wave of corporate
refreshes and partner opportunity, now they are just hoping to move on
to the next chapter.

Microsoft has good reason to think about cutting its losses. First off,
Vista adoption has been so abysmal – by some analyst firm estimates,
including Forrester, the operating system is installed in only 10
percent of enterprises today — that the 87 percent of companies still
running Windows XP now have little reason to migrate since Windows 7 is
on the horizon for October.

Add to that the solution provider community, which struggled in
frustration to optimize their solutions for Vista, zigging and zagging
with every iterative code and feature change leading up to its general
release. Fact is, they are now giving up in droves, having played
around with a much more consistent Windows 7 for some time now. That’s
what they plan to start selling to their customers and mapping their
applications and other solutions too.

Lee Nichols, director of global solutions at Getronics, an integrator
with a large Microsoft practice, pretty much sums up partner sentiment
on the subject.

“We’ve not seen a lot of opportunity over the last 12 months for
Vista,” Nichols told Channel Insider. “It’s a very misunderstood
product. It was poorly communicated and the market just did not know
what to do with it. A lot of our clients just skipped Vista and are
aiming for Windows 7, and it’s first time in my experience with
Microsoft and Windows that we’ve been so far away from launch and had
customers knocking on the door to start planning.”

To its credit, Microsoft has executed the development, marketing and
enablement around Windows 7 much, much better. They learned from the
Vista experience and locked down the operating system’s code earlier in
the process so partners and, in particular, developers had a relatively
stable platform on which to start working.

The funny thing is that, on purpose or inadvertently, they’ve turned a
major failure into a marketing tool – and partners have jumped right on
board with the message. There’s such distaste in the industry for Vista
that all Windows 7 has to do is show up and it’s likely to whet more
appetites. And truth be told, Microsoft and its partners are fully
aggrandizing the Vista failure to comparatively build up the Windows 7

For now, the spin seems to be working. It remains to be seen whether
all the adulation and positive reviews for Windows 7 will turn into big
sales early in this recession, but partners are preparing intensely to
push this operating system and retract their investments in Vista going
forward. With Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference kicking off next
week, you can be sure that Windows 7 will be a huge topic of
conversation, and that Windows Vista will undoubtedly be used in the
same sentence by many – and not pleasantly.

But that’s OK.

Have you stopped trying to push Vista and decided to move ahead full speed with Windows 7?