I had the opportunity to speak with Windows 7 Director for the client division in Microsoft India and ask him a couple of questions I had. This wasn’t an interview but some questions for which a call with Mr. Rajiv Popli was arranged by the really cool folks at Microsoft India PR. The following were the questions I put forth and I have paraphrased the responses.

From what I understand, Microsoft India is concentrating on the corporate crowd and is leaving the Windows 7 sales for consumers to the OEMs. The reason is that they don’t expect a lot of off-the-shelf purchases as much as Windows 7 being bought with newer OEM PCs. Here is the 23 minute discussion:

  • Windows 7 prices still high and retail availability

[He said] Priced much lower than what Vista was. Took market into consideration and priced accordingly. (yes, it’s approximately half of what Vista was priced when launched in India.)

Retail availability – soon. (In case you missed, Windows 7 is still not available in India at retail outlets due to legality issues.)

[I say] The killer part is that probably for the first time, a product will be cheaper in India even after including taxes, if one were to do a Dollar to Rupee conversion. However, with a price tag of 7,000/- INR they haven’t crossed the Indian buyer’s mental block. It’s more of a psychological issue than an affordability issue.

  • Will the Windows 7 Upgrade packages be available at retail stores? If yes, what will be their costs?

[He said] No upgrade packages will be available. Only FPP (Full Packaged Product) will be available. (The reasoning was quite an obvious one, since a considerable population of India doesn’t own more than one PC.)

[I say] Very unfortunate, Microsoft missed a huge opportunity as quite a lot of people would’ve pitched in and bought copies for themselves, all legit. Tech enthu friends/cousins would’ve contributed and bought quite a lot copies.

  • I heard in an interview on TV that Windows 7 Family Packs won’t be launched in India, will there be any sort of discounts if someone were to purchase multiple copies or is this solely at the retailers’ discretion?

[He said] No discounts from Microsoft.

[I say] Opportunity missed. Discounts help. If it weren’t for the dirt cheap pre-orders on Amazon and other sites, Microsoft wouldn’t have out-sold Harry Potter. Maybe, the retailers will have some offers.

  • Student discounted versions are available at $30 in some developed countries, anything like that for students in India (other than the tie-up with IEEE & Dreamspark)?

[He said] No.

[I say] Very unfortunate again… major opportunity missed. But, you can get Windows 7 Professional edition for free. (Details #1 & #2)

  • Will Windows 7 Starter edition be available off-the-shelves at retail stores? If yes, what would be the cost? If no, how can one purchase the Starter edition? Do OEMs get Starter edition licenses? If yes, how soon should we able to get Starter edition bundled computers? By when will OEMs start getting their copies of Starter editions?

[He said] Home Basic will be available off-the-shelve. Windows 7 Starter edition will be available only via OEMs. PCs bundled with Windows 7 Starter edition will be available sometime soon.

[I say] Since there is practically no difference ever since Microsoft dropped the 3-App limit on Starter, it will only add to the confusion for the  customer, though, I guess changing wallpapers will be easier in Home Basic. I’ve said in the past that there is no need for so many SKUs.

  • Advertising campaigns if any like the ones in US, UK & Australia?

[He said] Yes, in coming days, OEM partners and Microsoft will have campaigns suited for India, like The Next Gen Family.

[I say] Along with the New Efficiency launch happening in November which is focused towards the corporate crowd (it deals with Server 2008 R2) there will be a push for Windows 7. OEMs are apparently gearing up for wide range of new PCs and their own marketing campaigns.

He did mention “the big screen” and beyond TV in the same sentence.

  • Are all available packages are Geographically locked?

No definitive answer. But, I’m pretty sure the ones available here will be geographically locked to India.

  • Any update on Bing for India

Bing in India is pretty much a re-branded Live for now but that will change. Probably the only good news that was conveyed was that Bing Search will be localized for India. No time frame yet, though.