By Peter Han, General Manager, Microsoft U.S. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Division. He is responsible for U.S. OEM sales of Windows, Office, and Server. He also oversees all sales and marketing through the OEM distribution and reseller channel in the U.S.

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In our industry, we’re always looking ahead. Innovation is fueled by a yearning to discover the next game-changing technology. But as exciting—and necessary—as this pursuit of the “new” is, it’s also critical that you, as a Microsoft partner, recognize the sales opportunities that are within reach right now.

While there is tremendous anticipation around Windows 8, there is an even more immediate demand to help users transition to Windows 7. The numbers tell the story:

  • More than 500 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold worldwide.
  • In the U.S., there are still roughly 124 million PCs running Windows XP. Rather than let those users wait to make the transition to Windows 8, now is the time to counsel them on a Windows 7 upgrade and guide them into the modern technology era.
  • Microsoft Office 2010 is the fastest-selling version of Office ever and deployment has proceeded five times faster than Office 2007.
  • In the U.S., two-thirds of SMBs do not have a server today and are ripe for conversion to Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Small Business Server 2011.

There is plenty of positive energy around Windows 7 to go around. Last month, I had the chance to hold in-depth conversations with top technology media in New York City and Boston who echoed this excitement about the power of our current operating system. Reporters from The VAR Guy, Redmond Channel Partner, CRN, Tech Target, Chicago Sun-Times, and the Boston Herald were invited to experience devices from the incredibly cool and diverse Windows 7 ecosystem, including:

One idea discussed with the reporters was how the Windows 7 opportunity grows into other ones. Once customers are on a Windows 7 PC, they want productivity software. You can play a prominent (and profitable) role in bringing Microsoft Office to those customers who want to move from the pre-installed Starter version.

Don’t “wait for 8.” Instead, take advantage of the “right here, right now” market opportunity for Windows 7 and all of its wraparound revenue streams. For more information on what’s new with Microsoft OEM and the current devices in the marketplace, follow @MicrosoftOEM on Twitter and visit the Microsoft OEM Newsroom at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/OEM/.