David Rayner: a new era for "Mr Vista"

David Rayner: a new era for "Mr Vista"

David Rayner, client product marketing manager for Microsoft in New Zealand, is sometimes described as "Mr Vista" by colleagues. The man responsible for much of the buzz around the launch of Vista talks to Jan Birkelandabout going from a copier salesman to launching the new operating system and his passion for kite boarding.

How did you start out here in New Zealand?

I moved here from the United Kingdom about 10 years ago with a New Zealand girl.

I originally came here with Xerox and worked with them as a copier salesman. I had a bit of a marketing background as well, and when I heard Hewlett-Packard was looking for a channel manager in Wellington I applied for that job and got it. It ended up giving me a combination of three things. One was IT experience, something I lacked somewhat before then. I also gained some experience in both sales and marketing there.

Was the IT industry always in your sights?

Not really, I did one degree in mineral estate management at university, but got quite bored doing that. I went back to university and did a marketing degree after a while.About two years into the job at Xerox I could really see myself going in an IT direction. This was around the time the first multifunction printers were coming out, and there was a buzz around networks. We were one of the first companies to have a PC platform of some description in the office and it was all very interesting and compelling. Microsoft was just starting up and you got the feeling that this would be the start of something massive. I wanted to be a part of that. It took me a few years, but I got there in the end. IT is such a great industry, because it is so flexible and dynamic. There is always stuff going on.

So how did you go from a copier salesman to being responsible for Microsoft’s Vista launch in New Zealand?

While I was with HP in Wellington, I wanted to dive back into marketing in a much deeper way. At the time our marketing manager, Joanna Burgess, was on maternity leave and a Frenchman from the PC division in Grenoble came in to cover and get some country experience. We got talking and to cut a long story short, I transferred to France after a few months to work in the worldwide marketing group. I worked there for a number of years and decided I wanted to move back to New Zealand and Wellington. I did a stint with Telecom but decided that was not really what I wanted to do, and that was when the job at Microsoft came up. I really wanted to get into it and launch Vista. I had been very involved in product marketing up until then, and you cannot get a more exciting product to launch if you are a marketing manager in IT. I stuck my hand up for that job and have been with Microsoft for a few years now.

Post-launch, do you have any immediate plans?

I have always viewed it as a launch wave, and it is really a 12-month launch. Particularly with the business launch being separated from the consumer launch. We did a lot of readiness training during the last year. The launch doesn’t stop here, we have a lot more work to do. It is almost a continous cycle. I launched XP Media Centre edition and the auxiliaries to that, like Internet Explorer and the Media Player. We thought a lot about the launch of Vista over the last year or so, we had to think about our partner readiness and channel readiness.

How important will the channel be after launch?

The channel was extremely important to us before launch and will continue to be a focus area. We spend a lot of time working with our partners and find the best opportunities for them. Partners have been extremely important to us, especially Hewlett Packard. They have supported us through the development stages, helping us with hardware and other things. This works very well on a local level, but of course this is an international initiative. We rely on other companies to enable our product, without them we can’t do it. When we launch something like this, we really need their help.

Has it been fun launching a product of such magnitude?

Yes, it has been a lot of fun; it has had its moments though. Great things never come without any pain. The market was ready for something different, and I think there is some compelling and fundamentally good stuff in Vista that will persuade people to take the leap from XP. We have always said it was a quality-based release. I absolutely believe the product is better quality than XP was when that was released.

How will Vista impact on Microsoft’s future plans?

In the next 12 months there will be a lot to do. I am really enjoying New Zealand and Microsoft. The people here really make the company. The launch of Vista is really not a one- man job, and I have relied on our partners and people at Microsoft for help.

There is no way we are waiting another five years for a new operating system. With Vista we left XP behind, but we learned a lot from the work we did on service pack 2. We started over with Vista and built a solid system up from the ground. Will it be absolutely perfect? Probably not, but it is significantly better than where we have been before.

What do you do once work is finished for the day?

I tend to get outside. Windsurfing was my passion, but since I moved to Auckland the wind was not as strong as in Wellington, so I decided to try something that Auckland is very good at, which is kite surfing. I have avoided the hospital so far, but not sure how long that will last. I like to listen to a bit of music, especially New Zealand music. We are doing some work with Loop recordings at the moment. We are working with them to find some grass-roots talent out there at the moment.

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