A bunch of news sites popped up today posting interviews with Windows Chief Marketing Officer and CFO Tami Reller, one of the two women who took Steven Sinofsky’s place to run Windows at Microsoft. While Reller didn’t release much in the way of news (and you would think they could have rolled out a new number for her to pitch: she just repeated the Windows sales numbers from January, where Microsoft had sold 60 million Windows 8 units, to OEMs and through updates, although she did say that OEM revenue for Windows 8 is the same as it was for Windows 7 in the same period, even though overall unit sales were down ), at least Microsoft made her available as they try to keep up interest in Windows 8.
This is a tough time of the year for any sales, as consumers pay off their debt from the holidays, and it’s well before any summer or back to school activities. For Windows 8, with the tech press frothing at the mouth to prove that it’s failing, the timing is particularly crucial. Next week’s launch of Microsoft Surface Pro should at least help to generate interest in Surface and Windows 8, at a time when sales and interest around tech products are at their lowest ebb.
But it won’t just be Surface to carry the load through the slow season, even though Reller told Todd Bishop that “(i)n so many ways, Surface is really launching in February” . As Reller told PC World, Microsoft is working with partners to bring many more Windows 8 devices to market:
“Partners are working hard to bring stunning innovation to market across a broad spectrum of tablets, convertibles, touch laptops & Ultrabooks, and all-in-one PCs,” Reller said. “Watch for some great new products on shelf this spring!”
Reller pointed out that the launch of Windows 8 is not only about what has happened in the last 90 days, but as she told GeekWire’s Todd Bishop, it’s about the upcoming selling seasons:
We look at this and we say, this is a solid start. It absolutely is a solid start. More to come, and it’s going to come in the next two selling seasons, for sure, but a solid start.
Reller talked to reporters about the downturn in PC sales, working with OEMs, Microsoft’s evolving relationship with Intel, and even the state of the current “built in” Windows 8 apps, to Mary Jo Foley:
Yes, Microsoft knows that Mail/Calendar/People and Xbox Music on Windows 8 and Windows RT need real work, and not just a few minor updates. Reller didn’t share any kind of time table as to when these apps will be updated in a significant way. But it was encouraging to hear that Microsoft is committed to making these “first-party”/built-in apps best-of-breed. Happily, the team isn’t pretending these apps are good enough.
The biggest news of Reller’s tour may not be what she said, which wasn’t much new, but that Microsoft is beginning to figure out a path forward after the abrupt, and at least partially forced departure of Sinofsky. Will Steve Ballmer play an increasing role in becoming the “face” of the company? Will Reller and Julie Larson-Green get more exposure as Microsoft tries to find a way to connect with consumers? And with Sinofsky gone and apparently still obsessing over “snark”, will Microsoft, for perhaps the first time in years, learn to work with and not actively against the tech press?