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.