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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Selling Developers Was Easy. Windows 8's Big Challenge Will be Selling Press

Most of these "surfaces" are running OS X
When it comes to technology, I love going to developer conferences to meet people, see the people building the platforms I'm studying, and overall understand the best ways to integrate technology for the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. I actually normally attend as a developer when I go to these events, because I have full access to what the developers are seeing (I often pay my own way, as well, although as disclosure that is also comp'd at times). For the Windows Build Developer conference this year though, I came as Press because they sold out of developer passes in minutes. It was very clear that developers wanted to come to this conference (I'll explain why in another post). I noticed some very interesting things this time though, at my very first Microsoft conference. The Press just aren't converted yet, and despite Microsoft's new focus on marketing as Steve Ballmer committed to today, they have some work to do.

Let's start with the Press section at today's Keynote. I was surrounded by Macs! Myself included. My neighbors all had iPhones. I saw iPads. I could tell this was a different culture to the Press I was surrounded with.

I've been at many conferences, and sat in many press rooms and sections, and I can vouch for that - the Press is part of the Mac cult. They love Mac. And if they don't love Mac, they love their iPhone. And if they don't love their iPhone, they love their Android device. I'd hate to say it, but Windows comes lowest on the Press totem pole.

What's odd is that, while perhaps normal for a conference like this, the conference gives out free devices (at this one a Phone, a Surface, and SkyDrive space) to "all attendees" (the developers), but at least at this conference, the Press are excluded. In fact, as I sit in the Press room writing this I don't see a single Surface. I don't see a single Windows Phone. I do see a couple Windows laptops, but they're surrounded by Macs and iPhones and other Apple devices.  In fact, I inquired about even borrowing one and was told I'd be put on "a waiting list" to even be able to spend some time with one trying it out. Yet, upstairs they're handing them out like candy to every developer you can see.

I'm not bitter I don't qualify for the free devices. I'll probably just go up and buy a Surface from the company store (assuming they're even available to me) to play with because I like trying out new stuff. I know others in the Press won't just buy devices like this to use primarily in replacement of their other devices though. It would seem Microsoft would benefit from focusing more on ensuring every member of the press is engrossed in Windows. If I were Microsoft, each member of the Press would have a Surface, pre-populated with their favorite writing tools (something Microsoft is really good at), and they'd all have their Surfaces open writing their blog posts. I guarantee you'd see a different story in the media when that happens.

In the meantime, I sit here writing this post on my Macbook Air, on a Google product (Blogger), and will likely check for your comments on my iPhone after I hit publish. If Microsoft is going to have a stronger marketing focus, they should really start with the Press.

UPDATE: Turns out you can't even buy a Microsoft Surface at this conference. Not even the company store will sell members of the Press a Surface.

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