Tips to explain Windows 8 upgrade rationale to customers

Expert advice for VARs looking to explain Windows 8 upgrade options to customers and combat objections to the new Windows OS.

It isn't every day that you have the opportunity to sell your customer a new desktop operating system. With Windows 8 already released to manufacturing, VARs will soon need to explain Windows 8 licensing and sell upgrades to their customers. While this is undoubtedly a moneymaking proposition for value-added resellers (VARs), it can be surprisingly difficult to sell your customer on the idea of an operating system upgrade.

There are a great number of legitimate reasons why your customers might object to the idea of deploying Windows 8. If you want to sell any Windows 8 licenses, then you must be able to offer your customers satisfactory solutions to their objections. This means anticipating what those objections might be and planning for how you will deal with those objections. Here are some tips for explaining Windows 8 to customers and ideas on how to respond to customer objections.

Many organizations have the perception that Windows XP is faster, more efficient and less buggy than Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

I just upgraded to Windows 7

You are probably going to have the toughest time selling a Windows 8 upgrade to customers who have only recently adopted Windows 7. Upgrading to a new desktop operating system is expensive, both in terms of the license costs and in terms of the testing, training and deployment costs. Therefore, you have to give your customer a compelling reason to upgrade.

The first step will likely be to explain that Windows 8 is more than just Windows 7 with a new interface. There are lots of new features, many of which are related to things like security and mobility. If you know that your customer has struggled with a specific business problem, then you might be able to present one of the new features as a solution to that problem.

For example, suppose that your customer needs to provide users with remote access capabilities, but is concerned about users attaching to the corporate network from an unsecure PC. You can explain the Windows To Go feature, which allows users to boot a fully provisioned, self-contained corporate desktop from a USB flash drive. That way, the user is always working from within a secure environment even if they are using an otherwise insecure PC.

I want to continue using Windows XP because it works

If you are like most VARs, then you probably have a number of customers who plan to use Windows XP indefinitely. These customers have most likely avoided upgrading to a newer operating system because of trust issues. Many organizations have the perception that Windows XP is faster, more efficient and less buggy than Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The key to convincing these customers to upgrade may be to convince them that Windows XP is badly outdated and explain the real benefits of a Windows 8 upgrade. Some of the points that you might mention are:

  • Windows XP is over a decade old. It was first released in 2001.
  • Microsoft hasn't sold retail Windows XP licenses since 2008.
  • Mainstream support ended in 2009 and extended support ends in 2014.
  • Windows XP is so old that it does not natively support some newer hardware (such as USB 3.0).
  • Windows 8 is much more resistant to malware infections than any previous version of Windows.

Windows 8 is only good for use on touchscreen devices

Many people have gotten the idea that, because Windows 8 was designed for use on touchscreen devices, it doesn't work very well on desktop PCs. But Microsoft designed Windows 8 to deliver a first-class experience on tablets, laptops and desktops.

One way to win this argument is to install Windows 8 in a virtual machine or to loan your customer a PC that is running Windows 8. That way they can see firsthand that Windows 8 really does work on desktops.

Another consideration is that IT pros tend to be notorious gadget freaks. If an otherwise computer-savvy customer tells you that Windows 8 only works in touchscreen environments, they might be secretly wishing that they had a touchscreen. If that is the case, then you might be able to seal the deal by giving them a good price on some touchscreen monitors. If the customer is reluctant to deploy Windows 8 across their entire organization, you might be able to talk them into purchasing enough licenses for a trial deployment.

I don't have the budget for a new operating system

This one is tough, because it's difficult to sell a product to someone who doesn't have any money. There are a few options in this type of situation. One option is to sell the customer on a limited deployment. For example, Windows 8 works especially well for mobile users, so you might be able to sell them enough licenses to cover their corporate laptops.

Another option might be to help the customer to gradually transition to Windows 8 by including Windows 8 licenses on all of the new computers that the customer purchases.

My critical application only works with Windows XP

The only way to win this argument is to do the testing yourself. If someone has a mission-critical application and they are convinced that the application will only run on Windows XP, then you will need benchmark data to prove that the application not only runs on Windows 8, but that it runs more efficiently or more securely on Windows 8 than it did on Windows XP.

About the author
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a six-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services, file systems and storage. Posey has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for TechTarget, Microsoft, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit his website at www.brienposey.com.

This was first published in October 2012

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