Warwick Grey returned to Microsoft last November after his most recent stint with Renaissance came to an end. Just in time, by his account, to help with yet another Windows product launch in New Zealand, a triennial event that appears to have punctuated his career since the 1980s.
“This is my seventh Windows launch I’ve done for New Zealand,” says Grey, a well-known IT business veteran now serving as Microsoft’s Partner Account Manager - Distribution. “It started in 1984 and every three years there’s been a new one coming out.”
The latest chapter in Grey’s career indeed has a tinge of familiarity. He worked for Microsoft before, in the first half of the 2000s as small business manager. And his return to the vendor has brought him back to the kind of role he thrives in: as a kind of product evangelist.
Recently Grey has been making the case for Windows 8 in demonstrations with Microsoft business partners up and down the country. While the vendor is not doing public demonstrations of the product, Grey is tailoring a message for resellers to migrate to Windows 7 now, and get ready for the Windows 8 rollout, which is scheduled to happen in October.
This could prove a tough sell, particularly as 43 percent of Windows users are still running the aged Windows XP.
“Primarily the questions the partners have are practical,” Grey says. “What’s different? How do you use it? They say they’re busy selling Windows 7, that it feels like it’s all too new. It’s not the Windows they know.”
Grey says the message has become, if not from Microsoft’s point of view, then certainly his own, that while resellers tend to be good at supporting and responding to their customers needs, there is room for them to consider other factors in their business to sell new products.
“When we run focus groups of customers about what they want from an IT partner, it’s four things,” says Grey. “Customer service, responsiveness, communication and innovation.”
Grey says that in presentations, resellers have noted that they do not have time to use Facebook or Twitter, for example, to communicate with their customers.
“They’re so busy running their business they’re not thinking about it so from a customer point of view,” he says. “So they’re not necessarily proactive in taking innovation out there in a way customers can understand it. I think that’s why they respond well to my presentations.”
Grey, who shared his presentation with CIO, Reseller Newsand Computerworld, likes to colour his presentations by connecting the features he wants resellers to share with customers to how he works and extending that to ongoing trends, especially BYOD and the blending of work- and home-based IT experiences.
“What’s different about it is that Microsoft has looked at what’s going on in the world and provided something for consumers through to enterprise,” Grey says.
Grey thinks that the confidence business customers have in the Microsoft platform will empower resellers to take up the product as it moves closer to launch. There are three versions due for full release: Windows 8 Professional for business, Windows RT to run on tablets, and the Windows 8 boxed product which inlcudes RT and Professional versions.
In the meantime, Grey plans to continue evangelising through the leadup to the rollout. The company will be holding a Windows 8 bootcamp for resellers later this year, and Grey says he hopes to have a “big reveal” at the Ingram Micro showcases in late August.