5 Questions with Zakia Ovington: Driving a $136mm Vista business...


Continuing our series of talks with folks from Redmond who have a great view on various Microsoft business practices...

Today we are talking with Zakia Ovington. (see Larry Brennan from yesterday)

Zakia is the senior product manager for Windows Vista Client. She is responsible for the $136 million of business that impacts the mid-market segment (not too shabby)

Why is she talking to me today?

She really wants all partners to influence the sale and adoption of the Vista Client.

So, Zakia, our partners tell us that all of their customers get their Vista licnese through OEM. Why is buying Vista through volume licensing something they should care about?

It's an interesting question. I can talk to you about security, why Vista is important, but the key reason for volume licensing Vista is the right for a customer to upgrade to Vista when the time is right. We know that customers want to refresh their machines and deploy on their own schedule.  

Say, for example, a customer buys a Vista machine from Dell or HP but then wants to downgrade to XP. Many business customers do that now because they need a new PC, but they haven't adequately prepared for the deployment.

Here's the thing....Without volume licensing, the customer is actually mislicensing the machine if he upgrades back to Vista. Little known fact, but something that is important.

An equally big reason is imaging. For any customer that has more than 5 PC's, they can only build a standardized image if they have a volume licensing agreement. Having a standard image makes it easier for customers--and partners--- to deploy.

That's good for the customers, but where's the revenue for the partners?

Once a customer wants to deploy Vista, that's where partners come into play.

Particularly around deployment services and software asset management. Advanced Infrastructure partners and Network Infrastructure partners can make a lot of money.

I talk to customers a lot and there's a lot of excitement out there about Vista, but you know what I hear the most? "I am waiting for Service Pack 1. Experience has taught me that.

The concept of Service Packs has changed since XP SP2. It was really a new product, particularly around security. This is where Windows Update comes in. See how often the updates are pushed out. A customer with Vista is getting all of these updates as they go.

So, I upgraded to Vista at home and I had to replace my printer because the driver wasn't compatible. App compatibility...big concern out there.

App compatibility is an issue, but it's an unnecessary fear. There are a few tools that customers can use. Partners should check out www.windowsvista.com/sell to play around with them, particularly the Windows Vista Online Test Drive, the Application Compatibility Tool, and the Hardware Device Driver List.

You'll get a custom report of what apps will and will not work, plus tips and suggestions for addressing the gap. Any business customer who is thinking about deploying should do this.

Last question....Vista has been out for 4 months now...What's the biggest misconception that customers and partners have about the product?

Heh. The biggest misconception was on Microsoft's part.

We totally underestimated how excited customers would be about Vista Ultimate. It's flying off the shelves at retail and there are many more business customers buying through Open (License, Business, Value) with Software Assurance just so they can get Ultimate. It's great, of course, but we didn't see it coming at all!