Microsoft’s limited Windows 7 offer a lesson in how to annoy customers?

I’ve returned from a few days away to discover that Microsoft’s special Windows 7 offer, which was meant to run from July 15th 2009 until August 9th 2009, has already in effect expired. This was the deal for UK customers (already less generous that that offered in the USA):

You can pre-order Windows 7 Home Premium E for £49.99** or Windows 7 Professional E for £99.99**.

The double stars are merely a reference to the odd decision to supply Windows without a web browser in Europe – a strategy to counter the EU’s monopoly concerns.

However, if you go along to, for example, you can order Windows 7 Home Premium for £69.98 or Professional for a distinctly un-special £159.99.

I clicked all the links on Microsoft’s offer page and could not find any retailer still offering Windows 7 at the special price.

If the offer was intended to achieve a flurry of pre-orders, I am sure it succeeded. If on the other hand it was a reward to beta testers, as claimed by Brandon LeBlanc:

A special thank you to our beta testers is needed for their time and effort in helping make Windows 7 a solid release. The special pre-order offer we did offering Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional at almost 50% discount was done with our beta testers in mind.

then I am puzzled. First, it was not restricted to beta testers; and second, if you were a beta tester who happened to be away at the wrong moment, then you missed out.

Will customers who are aware that they have missed the offer for arbitrary reasons now be happy to pay 50% more? From a marketing perspective, that is the interesting question. I suppose most users will not allow pique to influence their OS choices; but they will be understandably annoyed.

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8 comments to Microsoft’s limited Windows 7 offer a lesson in how to annoy customers?

  • Tom Welsh

    What puzzles me is the absolute lack of any mention, so far, of upgrades from Vista to Windows 7. Surely that will be, by far, the most frequent case? I would expect upgrades to cost much less than cold purchases (which may be why Microsoft has dragged its feet dealing with the topic). But it’s very annoying to see Amazon prominently advertising a “buy Vista now and get Windows 7 free” deal, when I already bought Vista with my latest PC back in March.

  • tim

    @Tom there are no upgrades in the EU supposedly because it was too difficult to do upgrade editions without including IE. I don’t understand it either.


  • Which is not necessarily a bad thing in this case as the retail version is costing about what the upgrade would have.

    I would think that anyone with an ounce of sense would do a format/install even with the upgrade edition anyway, as you do not want any incompatible drivers lying around which you more than likely get from an upgrade.

  • tim

    @Alex sure, but you can do a clean install even with the “upgrade” version, it is mainly a marketing distinction.


  • Tom Welsh

    Thanks, Tim. My concern is purely pecuniary (as I’m sure is Microsoft’s). Being reasonably well organised backup-wise, I am perfectly happy to do a clean install. Indeed that would be my preference, in view of the curse of cruft.

  • Tom Welsh

    The IE nonsense is of course extremely irritating (as I’m sure it is meant to be). Microsoft is saying to the authorities “You are so ignorant of computer matters that you may even believe that IE is an organic part of our OS”. And it is saying to us “Look what the dimwits you elected have forced us to do to you”.

    In fact, of course, a browser is merely an optional component that runs on top of an OS, as Firefox and Opera do, and as IE used to before Microsoft deliberately grafted it into the OS for purely political reasons.

    I think the EU should further punish Microsoft for contempt of court, or whatever the appropriate charge might be, until it does the obviously right thing – provide Windows 7 with IE as a separate software component, just as Linux distros do with Firefox (e.g.)

  • The page you link to above under Windows 7 offer says there are limited numbers, so maybe they sold out of both copies very quickly. 🙂

  • tim

    @Paul yes they sold out, that’s the irritation.