Microsoft Gets Nostalgic On Windows 7's First Birthday

On the eve of Friday's one-year anniversary of the Windows 7 launch, Microsoft is getting a bit nostalgic about the progress it has made.

Microsoft has now sold 240 million Windows 7 licenses, which makes it the fastest selling version of Windows in recorded history. That's a lofty figure, and it's one Microsoft is using to make the case that Windows 7 has actually exceeded its expectations.

According to the latest figures from Net Applications, Windows 7 was running on 93 percent of new consumer PCs in September and had a 17 percent share of the global PC market. More telling, 100 percent of Microsoft's roughly 18,000 OEM partners were selling Windows 7 PCs six months after launch, compared to just 70 percent for Windows Vista during the same period after its launch.

Jon Bach, president of Puget Systems, a Kent, Wash.-based system builder that has been working with Windows 7 since the beta phase, says Windows 7 has also surpassed his expectations. "Windows 7 impressed us originally, and we continue to feel very positively,' he said.

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Windows 7 will always go down as a special product for Microsoft because it played the role of savior after the disastrous Vista experience, which caused grief extending to partners of all sizes within its channel. Windows 7 ended up being such a strong product that Microsoft executives themselves began to acknowledge what a debacle Vista truly was.

Next: Windows 7 Perception Vs. Reality

There's clearly no one pining for copies of Vista these days. "We had a handful of Windows Vista copies in inventory at Windows 7 launch and we're still looking for customers willing to take them off our hands," Bach said.

Windows 7 and Vista share much of the same code base and bear many architectural similarities. In the opinion of some partners, Microsoft succeeded creating the impression that Windows 7 was an entirely new product in its marketing campaign for the OS.

"I think Windows 7 is one of those examples where perception becomes reality," said Brad Kowerchuk, president of Bralin Technology Solutions, based in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. "The perception is that Windows 7 runs faster and is far more stable, compatible and easier to use than Vista ever was. While that is not completely true, there is enough truth that perception takes over."

Microsoft's proclamation of Windows 7 success comes at a time when mobile computing is gathering impressive momentum, prompting some industry watchers -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs, for example -- to declare that tablets and smartphones are relegating PCs to the computing sidelines.

But it's unclear if Windows 7 will be suitable for these smaller form factors, although Microsoft says it plans to have Windows 7 tablets on the market in time for the holiday season.

Next: Can Windows 7 Keep It Up?

Although some partners don’t see Windows 7 as a viable choice for tablets, few can argue that Microsoft has righted the ship with one of its biggest cash cows. Now the software giant will have to focus on maintaining the forward progress it has generated.

"Now that they’ve dropped their Windows release cycle from five-plus years to two, it will be interesting to see if they can keep up the momentum," said Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder.