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Windows Vista in a box customized for your customers

Upgrade clients to Windows Vista with a minimum of fuss. Contributor Jonathan Hassell offers some pointers for creating and selling your own "Windows Vista in a box."

Jonathan Hassell

So you sell your services to medium-large and enterprise-class businesses that need expert implementation and integration support -- but what about the smaller and medium-sized businesses that simply want turnkey solutions? What if your SMB client wants to move to Windows Vista with a minimum of fuss?

To these customers, you could offer your own "Windows Vista in a Box." This would be a one-stop kit with everything these customers need to get started. Here are some things you could include in your Vista implementation kit:


  • Include a volume license agreement, if necessary. Your Windows Vista in a Box kit could include the licenses for n numbers of machines as appropriate. The client buys one product from you and he is totally licensed, guaranteed. One-stop shopping to get legitimate is a real value-add service. Your customers will appreciate the convenience.

  • Contract for x hours of service: You could offer a completely flat rate, or, say, one hour of service complementary with each Vista license purchase. This service could apply to quick installation support, a troublesome bug the customer has always wanted to address, or a simple look at the network and offer of expertise.
  • More on selling Windows Vista
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  • Offer security and malware prevention software: Price your offering so you include licenses for antivirus and antimalware software. A OneCare subscription could also be a nice solution.

  • Provide trial software of 2007 Microsoft Office: As a Microsoft channel partner, you can gain access to virtually unlimited trial media to distribute to your customers. They may like what they see when they take Word 2007 for a 120-day test drive, and they'll remember who offered the trial to them, as well.

  • Support cranky applications like QuickBooks, with a "your-software-will-run" guarantee: Older versions of popular small business applications often have all sorts of difficulty with User Account Control, which restricts applications from performing actions requiring administrative permissions without at least some form of acknowledgement by the user. Many older applications took administrative rights for granted and now that Vista has cut them off, they fail to work. They are certainly poorly programmed applications, but of course the trick is to buy the new version, which magically "includes" support for Windows Vista -- not to mention it lines the pockets of the software makers. Guarantee your client's software will run, or guarantee to tell him exactly what he needs to purchase in order to make his software run, and that you won't rest until you do.

  • Analyze hardware needs: Given that your client is buying a turnkey migration solution, he probably does not want to entirely refresh his hardware. Include a utility that pings all of the machines on his network and grabs their vitals, including processor, disk space and memory, and ask your client to submit it to you for a complimentary hardware analysis. You could pinpoint the areas, hardware-wise, where your client could get the most bang for the buck when upgrading or replacing his machines.

  • Offer a discount, coupon or some other promotional offer touting the consulting services you have available for growing firms: Many small businesses soon outgrow their IT infrastructures, and they may not know who to call. Establishing a relationship through your turnkey Vista offering, particularly with one as well equipped as yours, could bring you more service requests as the client moves to a server-based environment.
  • About the author: Jonathan Hassell is an author, consultant and speaker residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jonathan's books include RADIUS, Learning Windows Server 2003, Hardening Windows and most recently Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual. His work is seen regularly in popular periodicals such as Windows IT Pro Magazine, SecurityFocus, PC Pro and Microsoft TechNet Magazine. He speaks around the world on topics including Windows administration, networking and security. Ask Jonathan your Windows channel questions.

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