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Windows 8 Consumer Preview

February 29, 2012

Today Microsoft is releasing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. What a clever way to use the extra day we get to enjoy this leap year.

It’s free. Should you get it? If this is the first you’ve heard of it, no, probably not. It’s a beta or test (i.e., incomplete) version of the upcoming operating system (OS) which is still in production. Barring any unforeseen delays you’ll get a chance to see it on PCs at Costco before the end of the year. However, if you are still interested in being a guinea pig for Microsoft make sure to do a “clean install” on a spare, non-productivity PC. If you don’t have extra PCs lying around or are not sure how to do a clean install, my recommendation remains to sit this one out.

I’ll definitely give it a try for nostalgic reasons if nothing else. This is the first major OS release since Windows 95 that I haven’t been using many months before it was released. This is also the first Windows product launch in years that hasn’t been keeping me awake at night. That’s because I left Microsoft in 2009, last working on the lead up to the release of Windows 7. Since then I’ve been advising local startups on their public relations strategies and online media campaigns.

It’s an odd feeling not being intimately involved with the marketing communications work going into this product as it makes it way to the market. But having lived through it many times I can tell you what my former colleagues are going through. The MarComm team long ago defined their Marketing Objectives for this release. My bet is that it’s something along the lines of reestablishing PC relevance. From there they’ve created their Marketing Strategy by defining the Windows 8 Target and Positioning Segments. The Promotion (MarComm’s bailiwick amongst the 4 P’s of the Marketing Mix – see About MarCommMan) has already begun with, amongst other things, the release of the new Windows 8 logo design earlier this month.

The Windows 8 logo announced earlier this month.

Software developers and PC manufactures have been testing Windows 8 for many months, but the release of the “Consumer Preview” signals that Microsoft is on track to deliver the operating system to the PC makers. The OS has to be completed by early summer in order to have it available on new PCs in time for the back-to-school shopping this fall. This is the “death march” phase as the development team races to get the operating system done. We’ll see if they make it. But for the Microsoft marketing machine the execution phase of their multimillion dollar global campaign is just beginning. Let’s see how they do.

Windows 8 screenshot

Windows 8 screenshot

For more information on Windows 8 check out the Windows Experience Blog.
And if you are a real geek check out Steven Sinofsky’s Building Windows 8 Blog (an MSDN site which requires a Live ID for login).

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