Archive for August 2010

The Windows 95 Bahamas launch memo

August 23, 2010

It is 15 years ago since the launch of Windows 95! I started writing this memo in the spring of 94, on the plane back from WWSM in Seattle. The product was still called Chicago and we did not know at the time that the release was still a year away. It was an attempt to rally the troops back at Microsoft Nordic by writing a fictive postcard from Bahamas describing the perfect product release.

The memo is a snapshot of what we thought then – some things became a reality, other things crashed and burned (Microsoft-At-Work, the Ericsson partnership). I don’t even remember the WinPad that I mention.

 

Looking back at Chicago

Operation Bahamas — the best product launch ever

Bahamas, December 1995

Looking back at the past year and a half, we can be proud of the most ambitious and successful product launch in our industry. We have upgraded 60% of the installed base to either Chicago or NT (Win32) and updated 1 million copies in the Nordic area. We have generated more than 600 million SEK in retail/Select and maintained an over 90% Windows penetration (and 100% of them are Chicago or NT) on new machines.

Our OEM people managed to convert 100% of Windows licenses to Chicago within 60 days and all of them shipped pre-installed Chicago within 180 days after release. This meant that Nordic total installed base for Chicago hit one million in October-95, only 7 months after release. All major OEMs supported the Mobile campaign with aggressive notebook promotions along with our own marketing activities. This was possible because of the OEM pre-launch program that blocked out OS/2 and got the OEMs on our side before the launch.

80% of the Select and 70% of the MOLP account have upgraded to Chicago/NT. The key factor behind this success was a carefully planned and well-executed partner beta and Early Experience program that helped customer to overcome objections, build excitement and create a key influential and supporter community. All partner we have was trained, ready and motivated at launch.

We have converted 50% of the installed base of Desktop applications to Office 95. EMS and new Chicago technology helped us to take the leadership in Workgroup computing. On-line services, Internet, e-mail and At Work machines like faxes are all integrated into one world of Information Exchange.

All major local ISV has ported their application over to Win32 and target the Windows NT platform for client server computing. A dozen ISV has developed customized LObjects for various vertical markets. WOSA, OLE 2. MFC and OCX controls are standard technology in almost all software design.

Despite the new technology, we have launched the best quality product ever, due to rigorous testing and efficient localization process. Callback rates are the lowest for any system product and 3rd party support is widely available within the MSN framework.

There is more. The idea of personal computing has expanded into new areas, some of them new, some of them emerging over the past years; Home, phone and office machine integration.

Home computing has taken off dramatically with the introduction of Chicago. Plug & Play, great support for multimedia in Chicago, great hardware, dazzling new titles and an excellent distribution system has put us on top in consumer sales in Europe.

We have entered into new exciting alliances, most notably with Ericsson. This project will bridge the gap between phone systems and personal computers. WinPad, TAPI, PC and PBX integration promise to make hundreds of thousands of office and field workers more productive and changed the way they work. Video conferencing, WinPads, and At Work equipment are common in every office.

Microsoft has proved to be the best partner in the way we have helped partners to be successful in their business. Solution Provider, MCP, Integration partners and Microsoft Shop are the most attractive commercial labels in the business. The ORG group focused on knowledge transfer to the market through our partners, while the EndUser group focused on channel campaigns and demand generation. We had the biggest product introduction show seen in the industry with all partners participating, well prepared from day 1.

Our CSS and awareness numbers are top in the industry, and our integrated marketing campaigns — TV, Billboards, Direct Marketing and thousand of partner ads/DM has left no stones unturned in our region.

Microsoft has earned an outstanding position the press and media and both out technical, marketing and business innovations attract great interest. We trained almost all major computer journalist in all four countries and gave seminars to business journalist in areas like home computing, the mobile worker, new technology, etc. Media sees Microsoft as the main source of knowledge in the information industry and view Chicago as the most exciting project in any business in the last years.

With the backup and planning from Corp, they way we trained our people, set up project group, gave out responsibilities and had much fun, there was no way we could go wrong. This past 18 months with Chicago was the most exciting part in our career for all of us.

How did we achieve this tremendous success? Let us look back and go through the major steps in the Chicago launch campaign and see how we made this possible.

Jan-Eric Ramberg

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