The positive industry feedback on Windows 7 must be bothersome to Microsoft's rivals. How else to interpret the wave of interestingly timed competitive product launches -- and straight up trash talk -- that's ramping up ahead of Windows 7's release?
Salesforce.com, which has long-depicted Microsoft as a staggering, clumsy dinosaur that's falling behind the industry's breathless embrace of cloud computing, probably isn't going to be invited to any Microsoft-hosted Windows 7 launch parties after its top executives jeered the new release.
"When the world's largest software company markets its flagship product as 'more stable,' you know that there is something terribly wrong with the state of innovation at Microsoft," said Bruce Francis, vice president of corporate strategy at Salesforce.com, in a statement emailed to media members this week.
Other media members received snarky remarks attributed to Salesforce CEO and longtime Microsoft basher Marc Benioff. "The best thing Windows 7 has going for it is that it is not Vista. The truth is that the operating system is irrelevant now. It's all about the cloud," he scoffed in the statement.
IBM and Ubuntu Linux developer Canonical are also tossing some fear, uncertainty and doubt Windows 7's way. Earlier this week, the two companies unveiled IBM Client for Smart Work, an open standards-based desktop architecture that they're positioning as a Windows 7 alternative.
Of course, IBM often uses its embrace of open source to get under Microsoft's skin, but earlier this week Antony Satyadas, global marketing strategist for desktops at IBM, suggested that the expense of moving to Windows 7 far exceeds any practical value it might offer customers.
"The move from Windows XP to Windows 7 is not so much an upgrade, but more of an expensive migration," Satyadas told Channelweb.com earlier this week. "So customers are open to alternatives."
Even Google is jumping on the pile. In August, the search leader launched its "Gone Google" campaign, which is meant to highlight large companies that switch over to Google's enterprise products, and includes strategically placed billboard advertisements that highlight the frustrations associated with using Microsoft Office.
This week, Google said it's expanding the Gone Google campaign to the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, Australia and Singapore, and the timing certainly suggests a desire to take some wind out of Windows 7's sails.
All of this shows that Microsoft's rivals are waking up to the fact that they won't have Windows Vista to kick around for much longer.
"If these companies were really viewing Windows 7 as a non-event, these announcements wouldn't be happening now," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, a Microsoft solution provider in Manalapan, N.J. "The fact is Microsoft rivals are concerned about Windows 7, and frankly, they should be."