Is it me or has this last season been the most productive one at Microsoft in a long time? First we get the new version of the DirectX SDK and now we finally have the final version of Internet Explorer 7, not to mention the plethora of CTPs that came out the last couple of weeks..
So, what’s going on? More marketing on MS’ side? Let’s hope so since free software is great - even though most products expire next year and it’s not free in the manner of beer and speech.
Still, allowing everyone to become a “beta-tester” is a great marketing strategy. People use the products for almost a year, become dependent on it and will have to buy the product when in comes out since the CTPs expire.
Take Windows Vista RC1 for example. This version of Windows is freely download-able but will expire on June 1st 2007. For home-users this is a great way of getting a Next Generation operating system for free and even be able to work with it for quite some time. By using CTPs/Betas you are not limited in saving files etc, there’s simply a time period - similar to trial software. Now, June 1st 2007 - Vista expires. You’re stuck with your CTP and all your important data on your hard-drive. Your copy of windows has expired and the only way to get back in is to buy Vista/License key.
Now that’s how you sell products — by creating a dependency.