Well okay, Vista does lose users

Michael PietroforteMVP By Michael Pietroforte - Mon, September 17, 2007 - 8 comments google+ icon

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in system administration.

Last month, I wrote an article where I doubted that Vista loses users. Today, I read on Cnet that Vista retail sales were down 59.7% compared with Windows XP six month after its launch. In my post, I only discussed the corporate deployment of Vista. However, such a strong decrease in retail sales indicates that Vista isn’t doing well at the moment.

I am not sure if it really makes sense to compare Vista with XP, though. XP didn’t bring as many changes as Vista does. I think it would make more sense to compare it with Windows 2000 Professional or Windows 95. Anyway, it seems now that Vista adoption is much slower than Microsoft hoped.

Aside from the marketing problem, I mentioned in my earlier article, Vista’s biggest problem certainly is its vast demand for hardware resources. When I moved to Vista on my PC at work and my laptop at home, I was in the lucky position to get new hardware. It never occurred to me to upgrade XP on my old computers.

Another reason for the poor retail sales is that many hardware and software vendors are adopting Vista at an extremely slow pace. I just bought an external Seagate hard disk which comes with a nice backup tool (Freeagent). Officially it supports Vista, but it obviously still has problems with Microsoft’s latest desktop OS. For example, whenever I boot up my laptop Freeagent initiates two UAC prompts. This is not how it is supposed to be.

One can’t blame Microsoft for the sluggishness of third-party vendors. Technically, Vista is perfectly ready. However, it is another question whether the market is ready for Vista. In my view, Microsoft should give up these long update cycles of its operating systems. I think the marketing strategy of Linux distributors is much smarter. They deliver new versions after a couple of months, often only with minor enhancements. This way, it is much easier to adopt a new OS for customers and third-party vendors. It also forces users to upgrade as soon as possible because it will get more cumbersome the longer they wait.

Another advantage of this strategy is that volume licensing customers believe that they really get something in return for their money. Microsoft’s customers are beginning to doubt that Volume licensing makes sense if a new OS only comes out every five years. And why buy Vista if Service Pack 2 for XP greatly improved security already, and XP SP3 will be for free, anyway.

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8 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. Dantv says:

    From my point of view, Vista is failing in the market and worse yet, it is opening the doors wide to competitors. At work, I am the tech guy and the our CTO has already decided that we are NOT upgrading to Vista the many hundred of PC’s in our organization. Worse yet, he has instructed me to set up a Linux lab to investigate the move to Linux which I am in the process of doing. I actually like MS but now am being forced to work with Linux. If Vista was done right and PRICED right, we would never have looked at Linux….I can’t stress how important Vista SP1 is to Microsoft’s Windows future!!

  2. Clarke says:

    Vista seems to be casuing some grief. I run a small IT consultancy in a small town in a small country, and I have not yet sold a VISTA desktop to go into production at a client. I use it and so do my staff, and I would never go back to XP. However the issues from day one with where the hell is x and where did they put y. My languge was less than complimentary. It is for this reason I have not sold a production copy.
    The business decision becomes this. If it is such a dramatic UI (User interface) change, then there is retraining involved, and that retraining reduces productivity. You then have to take the cost of retraining into the equation. This is where retraining your IT department to support Linux starts to make sense. If you have to retrain, do the sums and retrain on the best product for your business, not the best product for your IT Department.

  3. Peter Pan says:

    C’mon Vista is ready? for the corporate market?
    I don’t think so..
    since January this issue is still not resolved!
    http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2006/11/27/532465.aspx

    Working with a laptop off a corporate domain and having to STILL wait for 20 seconds for a dialog box everytime! Now thats a flaw that kills an OS, especially if a previous OS solved the problem…

    and this is one of too many problems with an OS with lousy betatesting

  4. Mike says:

    I don’t particularly agree that “the market” was not ready for Vista. Vista, or ‘Longhorn’ was so late in coming everyone just stopped waiting. I personally don’t think Vista represents much of an upgrade experience to the majority of users who have 90% of what they want with even Win98, and may be apprehensive to take the plunge. Couple that with having to buy new hardware, and it’s almost like you’re are being forced to do something you don’t want to…

  5. Dantv says:

    Another example of Vista failing…”Digital home integrators say Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system has been a big fat bust in the home market.”…http://crn.com/digital-home/201805832?cid=microsoftFeed

    I’ve been a big MS supporter all these years…Hoping that SP1 delivers the goods or else…

  6. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Dantv, you have my deepest sympathy. ;-) I like Linux. I always have a lot of fun when I am working with it. But as a desktop OS in a corporate environment? To my experience such decisions are often driven by emotions and not by rational arguments. In my view, the only real competitor to Vista is Windows XP. I often wished there were other choices, but I really can’t see them at the moment.

    Clarke, you’re right. There are a lot of changes in Vista and this worries many. It will certainly take some time until those people who don’t like any kind of changes will adopt Vista. In many cases, this will only happen when they start needing new hardware. Sooner or later PC vendors will stop delivering XP and then everybody will move to Vista. It is always like this whenever Microsoft introduces a new OS, and I don’t see any reason why it should be different this time.

    Peter, yes, there are still many problems with Vista; same thing can be said about XP, too. There are always problems when you have to deal with computers. Of course, XP is a mature OS. It’s no wonder since it is already more than five years old. But Vista is much more stable and secure than any other new OS Microsoft has ever released. I remember quite well that we had exactly the same discussion when Windows 95 and Windows 2000 came out. Let’s just wait a little and you will see that we’re back to business as usual.

    Mike, this is like with TVs. If you have a good one that works fine, you will just stick with it. If you need a new one you would probably get a LCD TV with HDTV support. But are you forced to buy the new technology? I don’t think so. Your kids would probably complain if you come home with an old fashioned tube. Of course, the typical TV user doesn’t need HDTV to watch sitcoms. This doesn’t change the fact that sooner or later they will get it.

  7. Marco says:

    Vista is nice – Ill never go back to xp BUT there are some problems with vista i simply cannot understand:

    - boot times: hello? it is definately not smart to release an OS that takes significantly longer to boot than its predecessor. this is the case on old hardware (logically..?) but also on good! hardware. new things have to be obviously better. booting is the first you do and if thats the first impression you get, haleluja…

    - transferring files, copying, deleting, etc. takes longer than under xp. its slower, its sluggish, to some ppl its even a huge problem and had to be half-resolved with patches. thats a huge problem and should never have shipped. a simple standard function not working as good or better than its predecessor. ridicolous…!

    - memory usage: lots of myth exist about this. vista takes more memory, others say its taking more cause its using it better, etc etc. actually it doesnt matter. people see in the task manager that vista uses the memory, they dont think why its doing that. they just see it. therefore vista uses much more ram! people cry and cry and cry and tahts extremely bad publicity. there are even people (quite a few) who claiim that vista needs 4gb ram to run smooth. what a load of bullshit, but their opinion get spread and lots of newbies believe it.

    - microsoft marketing is totally crap. that department should be looked at. that WOW campaign was idiotic. vista was put down on one function: that flip 3d crap. there are so many more and better aspects of that OS, but all it was reduced to…. flip3d. wow really. wow how crap! did ms really believe ppl would buy that OS because of flip3d?? really…*sighs*

    - the way vista manages mass storage devices: something is not right here, im sure there are some minor to major problems i wont go into details. but imo thats a problem. way too many threads about that exist on the boards i visit. thats another bad-word-of-mouth for vista.

    - drivers: jesus do people remember the early days of xp? that was much worse! nevertheless, people own crappy and old hardware that does not function (or did not). thats a problem and ms should have been aware of that. well of course they were, vista contained much drivers than any windows before, but tahts obvious. there was never as much hardware before as today, of course it had to support more devices. still, it was not enough. the press, magazines, etc bitched about the lack of driver support. very very bad word-of-mouth. vista suffers still of that.

    - there are some more problems i wont go into details. i personally like vista a lot! i dont miss xp at all and i accept that its not perfect. i can perfectly live with that. still, i find it frustrating that ppl bitch and moan about vista that much, but thanks to all the reviewers and magazinies who constantly look for problems instead of nice features. thanks guys, thanks to you vista is not as good as it should be.

    imagine the following: people love vista and accept its starting failures. the industry would realize that and work much harder and intense on new drivers, applications etc to make vista a great user experience.

  8. Nick says:

    Small, incremental, frequent updates of Windows???

    As a software developer, when I’m all done and I’ve made a CD, I have to install it and fully test it on every supported platform. At the moment, this is only Windows XP SP2. It used to be Windows 2000 as well, but then one of the (legacy) plugins didn’t behave well on 2K. We simply decided to drop support for 2K. (Even MS doesn’t offer mainstream support, anyway).

    Starting next year, corporate says we have to also support Vista. We un-officially do…but to make it official, we have to double testing and validation time (once for each of the operating systems). Heavens help me if we start supporting 64-bit operating systems also.

    If I was at a larger software company, I wouldn’t care as much. But as-is, having one to two mainstream infrequently updated versions of an operating system to support is more than enough. Before long, hardware will be caught up, we’ll have Vista SP1, and life will be back to normal again.

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