Consumerization has long been a good thing and a not so good thing for Microsoft. As one of very few companies with a significant presence in both consumer and enterprise markets, it is positioned to take advantage of that crossover. However, as it has gained the trust of IT, it is reluctant to be seen with “the smoking gun” of empowering individuals just a bit too much.
Today’s official consumer launch launch of Windows 7 represents another example of this. The company has in the past been a recipient of the benefits of consumerization. Windows 95, for example, was very much driven by this phenomenon and is a classic example of it.
It happened, to a lesser degree, with Windows XP. Microsoft would love for it to happen with Windows 7. It reinforced the potential benefit when it didn’t happen with Vista. Consumers didn’t get excited about
it and didn’t drag it into businesses. In fact, their lack of enthusiasm likely slowed down business interest. While we won’t likely see long retail lines like we did with Windows 95, now we get launch parties and mass media advertising in order to stimulate consumer demand. Having a very good product this time will help as well.
However, the other big thing going on these days in the consumer PC space is the growing popularity of netbooks. These pint sized (and pint-priced) machines have started to become used in businesses as well. But the real impact that will be felt is on pricing. Microsoft has had to offer very low priced versions of Windows (XP until now) for netbooks in
order to compete with free Linux offerings. The threat is that there will be a general trend to lower prices of consumer versions of Windows to the point where the difference between what businesses pay and what individuals pay will be quite large.
In that case, how long before we start to see businesses consider the use of consumer versions of Windows? Yes, of course, they wouldn’t get
some capabilities (such as Active Directory), but how much will that be worth. It will be interesting to see…
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