In a recent interview, Watson talked about partner opportunities around Windows 7, explained how the economic situation is shaping her conversations with VARs, and gave an update on how the channel is responding to Microsoft's rollout of unified communications.
Our main focus right now, after the Windows 7 code was released at the Professional Developer Conference, is to encourage partners to spend time with it. The main opportunity right now is that the migration to Vista is the best way to get to Windows 7. More important, it's about driving up productivity and driving down cost, and we're maintaining that the best way to Windows 7 is through Vista.
Vista was the most widely deployed beta in Microsoft's history, and Windows 7 is even bigger. We've really worked hard inside the company on what we call the 'Last Mile' process of getting the product to market.
If we look back at Vista, there are two things we're focused on not allowing to happen again. First, was the product ready? Partners are a strong voice for us in telling us about this, and we listen. Our partners were telling us we weren't ready, so we're going to be very careful in terms of listening to what they tell us with Windows 7.
Second, we have to make sure all the other processes are ready. Meaning, is the code on time, is it easy for system builders to install and uninstall? We call this the Last Mile process, and it includes partners every step of the way, in terms of feedback, licensing readiness, and how we get code into partners' hands. That process has all been created in the last 12 months.