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Microsoft Dangles Carrot To Lure Smaller Businesses To Vista

Though support for Windows XP will continue until 2014, Microsoft stopped shipping the OS last month. Redmond is wielding that stick in hopes of prodding users toward Vista, but there's also a carrot: free user support -- though it's a limited time offer.
Though support for Windows XP will continue until 2014, Microsoft stopped shipping the OS last month. Redmond is wielding that stick in hopes of prodding users toward Vista, but there's also a carrot: free user support -- though it's a limited time offer.The recently unveiled Small Business Assurance program targets business with fewer than 50 employees that purchase Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate. The support program runs through the end of October (implying either that there's no need for migration assistance from November onward). However, in discussing the program with Windows Vista product manager Greg Amrofell, he hinted that extending the program wasn't impossible. But, the timing of the rollout is no coincidence.

"It's not an accident that we're rolling this out as XP sales are winding down," said Amrofell. "The event of XP sales winding down is causing them [small businesses] some anxiety. We've developed a program that highlights the good points."

And highlight the good points he did. In keeping with Microsoft's disciplined messaging, Amrofell's talking points mesh perfectly with the Small Business Assurance site, including the customer example, Modern Mia Spa and Salon, which he cited multiple times to illustrate the value of Vista. Two of the stats he mentioned were almost verbatim from the site:

"Small businesses...are three times more likely to favor Windows Vista once they start using it."

"Windows Vista now supports 77,000 printers, cameras, speakers and other devices and components-more than double the number supported at launch."

"Windows Vista SP1 has fewer than half the security vulnerabilities of Windows XP. It's also 60 percent less likely to be infected by spyware or malware than Windows XP SP2."

"According to an independent survey, 62 percent of small businesses said Windows Vista SP1 saves them time, and 70 percent said that it makes them more productive."

I could insert his quotes, but short of changing some punctuation, there's wouldn't be any difference. That level of consistency doesn't happen by accident -- whether being relentlessly on message will lure smaller businesses to Vista remains to be seen.

The only chink in the messaging armor came when discussing alternative operating systems, when Amrofell said, "I haven't talked to any [small businesses] that are using Linux. I'm not hearing that it's something customers want to use."

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