The Vista bashing campaign continues, so I can't help myself and blog about it again. Computerworld presents new data from Forrester with an article entitled "Forrester survey: Enterprises reject Vista like 'new Coke'". I will write about the same data in this post, but as you might have noticed, I used a slightly different heading. After you have read my version of the story, you will have to acknowledge that sometimes reality is a matter of perspective.

The hard facts of the Forrester survey are that 8.8% of 50,000 enterprise users are running Windows Vista on their PCs and 87.1% Windows XP. Now, I am asking where is the connection to sugar water? Did those 87.1% decide to stay with XP because Vista didn't taste sweet enough? Or do these enterprise users just use the Windows version that their IT departments installed on their PCs?

You might object that IT managers made this decision, which makes it even more obvious that Vista tastes bitter. However, the real flaw in this comparison is that the success of an operating system has to be measured by completely different means. The heading of my article makes this point clear. Heck, 8.8% Vista installations in large and very large enterprises after only 18 months is indeed a success for Microsoft.

To change your favorite sugar water brand costs you only a few steps to the next shelf in the super market. I wished it were that easy when changing a desktop operating system. It is a matter of fact that the size of the organization correlates with the efforts required to move to a new desktop OS. I wonder why Forrester only interviewed enterprise users. Perhaps this was necessary to get a single-figure result?

If you have read my series about the Vista vs. Windows XP issue, you already know what I think about Microsoft's latest desktop OS. Yup, there is no doubt that I am a Vista fan boy. But what do you think would have been the result if Forrester had interviewed the users in my organization? Well, I can tell you that far less than 8.8% would have responded to use Vista. It certainly depends on your environment, but deploying a new desktop OS requires many preparations. It also depends on the amount of time administrators have to prepare the infrastructure for the change.

This is certainly not new information. It is not the first time that Microsoft has come out with a new desktop OS. Thus, if you really want to know how well Vista is doing in the corporate sector, you shouldn't compare it to the sales figures of sugar water, but to the adoption rate of its predecessor, Windows XP. According to Gartner's data 13% of business PCs will run Vista by the end of 2008. Considering that already 8.8% PCs large and of very large enterprises have Vista installed by now, it is quite likely that this prediction is correct. I guess that if one includes small and mid-sized businesses, Vista's share already exceeded 10% by now. One has to take into account here that the overall number of employees in SMBs is much bigger than those of large enterprises, simply because there are many more SMBs.

Hence, it is a matter of fact that Vista has outperformed XP sales in a comparable time period. Two years after its release XP was installed on 10% of all business PCs. Vista has reached this mark already after 18 months. This is indeed surprising, considering that migrating a desktop OS is much more complicated nowadays than it was seven years ago. The overall complexity of IT infrastructures undoubtedly increased tremendously since the release of Windows XP.

How come that people judge the same kind of data differently? My latest theory is that a meme-based Vista bashing virus is spreading through the Internet. Especially intelligent analysts who dislike Microsoft are infected easily. This virus makes them see what they want to see, i.e. that Vista is a failure for Microsoft. The "Mojave experiment" makes this more than obvious. If you let Vista skeptics try Vista without telling them what OS they are actually using, they give a positive feedback. I wonder what conclusion Forrester's analysts would draw, if you present the same adoption rates of Vista and XP without telling them what products they are actually evaluating.

Anyway, Vista is a cash cow for Microsoft. This is the real surprise. It seems that the Vista bashing virus can't prevent people from buying Windows.

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10 Comments
  1. Jan Ivar Beddari 14 years ago

    I think you are a bit overly dramatic here. I do understand it from your perspective of trying to break down the sensationalist tone in most of these kinds of reports.

    But for me, its not that its fun bashing Vista, or that I don’t know enough about it, or that its too slow. Its a question about cost and need. Enterprises do not yet see the need for Vista. Sure, there are some stuff I’d like to use, but I most likely will, in time.

    Why spend time and money early when you don’t have to? OS deployments really should be based on what you need to get done with your computers. All enterprises of a certain size have solved any problems around XP and how to run it. It would be pretty stupid to not allow the greatest ROI possible on that.

    This is why I voted for Vista x64 in your poll. The added RAM-possibilities of Vista x64 _IS_ something that will make an impact sooner or later. When our application vendors tells us we need Vista with 5gb RAM on our clients to be able to use this and that system, then we’ll be ready to deploy it. Until then our task as IT pros is to provide the services needed, at lowest possible cost, and at the same time prepare for changes we see for the future.

    My take.

  2. Matt! 14 years ago

    Only one thing stands in the way of my company doing a total Vista conversion: Money.

    I work at an all-Microsoft shop; we have 250-500 machines in the field. So far we only have around 30 Vista machines. Every new machine we have been ordering has come with Vista. Everyone in IT has Vista — and we like it! About half of our executives also have Vista, but outside of this small circle there are very few installs.

    The reason is simple: due to the slow economy, our business is slow. Consequently, we have not ordered a new machine in almost six months.

    Even if we wanted to upgrade all of our existing XP machines to Vista, this is impossible with the current hardware available. Most of our end user machines are P4’s with 512MB RAM. There are even still a few P3’s running happily in our warehouses. Some of these might meet the “minimum” system requirements for Vista, but this has been shown to provide a poor user experience.

    Rather than force a new OS on users that will run poorly on current hardware, we are waiting until the company has the funds available to upgrade.

    Vista is great. I really like it. But unfortunately not everyone can upgrade as soon as Microsoft (or IT) would like.

  3. AJ 14 years ago

    About a year ago, I commented that it’s not only the OS that needs changing it’s the applications that run on it. The overwhelming response was “if your applications don’t support Vista it’s time to change applications”. Well it’s a year later and a few of my company’s applications are still NOT supported on Vista. Add buying new applications to the cost of implementing a new OS and I don’t think my company will upgrade. As Jan and Matt stated, businesses are looking the cost vs. benefits and they don’t feel it’s worth it.

  4. Michael Pietroforte 14 years ago

    Jan, actually I think that I am just discussing the fact that others are a bit overly dramatic when it comes to Vista. My point rather is that we see a very common development here. Thus, there is no reason to be dramatic. Vista just keeps the Windows monopoly stable. There is not much more to say about it even though many analysts and journalists try their best to make it seem as if Microsoft has a serious problem. I think that there are quite a few IT managers who took the bait and don’t deploy Vista because of these incorrect reports in the media. However, you’re absolutely right, there are many good reasons why it doesn’t make sense to deploy Vista now in some organisations. We had exactly the same situation when Windows 2000/XP came out. Therefore it is just business as usual. Some deploy the latest Windows version now, some do it later. Vista is just spreading a little faster than XP did. The interesting part is how irrational the discussion about Vista is. This is what I am trying to address in my articles about this topic.

    Matt, I think you described a typical situation. Most of our PCs have 1GB RAM which is not enough for Vista either. Thus we don’t plan to upgrade these machines to Vista. However, if we have to re-install the OS on one of those machines we might add some memory and install Vista then. We plan to deploy Vista on all new PCs though. As I already said in my response to Jan. This is just business as usual. When we moved from Windows NT to Windows 2000/XP the situation was exactly the same.

    AJ, it is always benefits vs. costs. It was the same with Windows NT. Those companies that had legacy apps that didn’t work under Windows 2000/XP didn’t upgrade. You won’t believe it, but there are still many NT installations in my city. Can we infer from this that Windows XP was the “new Coke” for Microsoft?

  5. Someone Overthere 14 years ago

    I think what most fan boys seem to forget is that Balmer himself leading up to the release of Vista was expecting enterprise to buy into Vista in a big way much earlier than in the past(if I recall he was talking about within one year). Lets face it…it didn’t. Only since companies have realized that MS is moving forward with the next version of Windows based on Vista are they going ahead and installing Vista.

    Not to mention that SP1 had alot to do with companies moving forward to Vista. XP didn’t have the tools that Vista did upon release. Where was the free imaging product? RIS? Ugh! Remember the issues with sysprep? Had to watch those ide drivers and the HAL. That stuff all takes time people.

    The fanboys make it sound like it’s amazing that Vista has been deployed in as many places it has yet there’s a history to XP that shows it just might be more amazing that it was deployed like it was compared to Vista. XP also had driver issues…not like Vista but issues nonetheless.

    The thing is that when a company has made so many bad blunders, many get turned off to them. MS is a huge company and that size is what has kept them in the game. Some look at profits as success but seriously there hasn’t been any competition until a little just recently. That hasn’t been a plus for MS but a negative to the rest of the industry(we’ll not talk about MS’s illegal tactics that somewhat affected that though). Look at MS’s products and you’ll find alot of them that have been giving people a poor impression of MS. Don’t blame the bashers…people will always talk…blame MS. MS has gotten alot of good press…moreso than they should when they’ve done some good things. Ya gotta take the bad with the good.

    Someone are likely to label me as a Vista basher yet they’ll likely never consider that I’ve been working with Vista since the beginning and have been one of those guys facing real problems whether it’s due to bad documentation, bugs, or design flaws. I truly like many of the things in Vista(if it works right) and see it as a promising OS. There were some decisions that MS had to make and I think they’re finally pulling their head out of their *ss…well, part way anyways. 😉 Essentially Vista is a bit of a fall guy and fan boys need to accept that.

  6. Jan Ivar Beddari 14 years ago

    Michael, here’s a theory for you: When XP came out and replaced 2000 there just wasn’t enough attention around blogs and internet based media for the sensationalists crowd to gain critical mass. As a result it died pretty quickly and with a lot less noise.

    Fast forward to today, economy is quite different, Microsofts position is different, the IT industry as a whole has a gravitated towards the web in a big way. Competing for attention and image on the web is the biggest challenge yet for any company, also those who don’t want to see MS succeed. So in a way today it pays a lot better to feed the Vista monster than what it did back then.

    I agree that the whole thing is getting really old now and there is no evidence that MS is not getting “business as usual”. However, if anyone were to grow on a bashing campaign, it would be them. I just skip reading most articles that miss technical content ..

    And about the new Coke, there really is a reason for me reading your blog instead of Computerworld. Really, there is 🙂

  7. Michael Pietroforte 14 years ago

    Someone Overthere, I do not know what Ballmer has expected, but it is true that many had unreasonable expectations about Vista’s adoption. Some journalists make it seem as if all companies have just waited for Vista to get rid of XP the very next day. The myth about Vista’s failures is to a large extent based on these highly unrealistic expectations. Fanboy or not, the fact is that Vista sells better than XP did at its time. This is just plain data, and there is not much room for opinion here.

    Jan, I agree that there would have been more XP bashing if we already had the Web 2.0 when it was released. However, I think that is not the main reason for all this Vista bashing. There are many more hardware and software vendors now. Microsoft was forced to change a lot under the hood to improve security. This lead to countless compatibility issues. Thus, many had negative experiences when they first tried Vista. Computer problems can be very frustrating and often provokes strong emotions. Thus, many were no longer able to objectively evaluate Vista. I also find technical issues more interesting. However, I know that this discussion is going on in many IT departments. It is a matter of fact that many base their decisions on such false analysis as in this Forrester report. I am just trying to uncover these irrational arguments, in the hope that a few more people focus on the technical facts when it comes to the Vista or not question.

  8. Eats Wombats 14 years ago

    Just because some Vista bashing is ill-informed doesn’t mean that Vista is a great product. It’s a much better product than XP but that’s not saying a lot in 2008.

    Microsoft’s Mr.Veghte (in charge of marketing Vista) recently opined that most of the criticism of Vista was from people who have never used it. In the absence of any evidence to support that assertion we can consider it skeptically. I think it’s FAR more likely that the 8.8% figure is inflated by counting as Vista sales many that are actually XP installations. (I don’t know a single IT manager who has opted for Vista, and I know lots around the world; I was one).

    I’ve been using Vista since the day it was released and it runs on 5 of the 7 computers in my house. Nevertheless, I’m well on the way to migrating to Ubuntu. I am not doing so because Vista crashes all the time or because of device driver problems. Vista does work–more or less. However, that is no longer enough. Ubuntu is simply easier to manage and cheaper.

    If you were given a choice of airlines to fly from A to B and one was free and just as safe as the other (in fact safer), which would you choose?

    Why would you choose to pay when you don’t have to and it entails taking avoidable risks?

    Vista would be worth paying for if free software weren’t any good, but in fact good and it’s improving faster than Microsoft can updates out. At the same time hardware costs continue to fall, so Windows becomes an ever larger share of the cost.

    The main thing Microsoft has going for it is the investment people have in having learned its software, but it’s not a strategic resource. Most people can use Firefox and as apps move to the web Microsoft will find it harder to compete.

    Microsoft’s current position isn’t sustainable. They will survive by trying to make proprietary software have a non-monetary price.

    Finally, there is no being “right” about Vista if the market isn’t buying it, for whatever reason. There’s no real difference at all between what was said about OS/2 (which WAS a better operating system) and Vista. Being better is irrelevant if the market isn’t buying it. The market isn’t about to buy Vista.

    The strategic hole that Microsoft is in is attested to by their desperate actions to try to use XP to keep Linux at bay in the booming netbook market and the laughable new PR campaign.

    It is, in fact, a cartoon character that has run off the edge of a cliff and is temporarily suspended in mid air. It’s not necessarily doomed (IBM wasn’t) and it’s a long way down… who knows? What happens next will be interesting.

  9. Matt! 14 years ago

    @ Someone Overthere: I totally agree that Vista makes Sysprep EASY! SATA drives? No problem. Drives larger than 127GB? Sure! Want to burn DVD’s, sure it’s included. And since SP1 came out, ROBOCOPY has saved more than one failed drive. Lots of nice features.

    @ Eats Wombats:
    Now you know an IT guy that prefers Vista. No, I’m not the manager of my IT department, but I am one of the Administrators. As I said above, the only thing holding my company back is our financial situation right now. In my opinion, Vista SP1 is a better product than XP SP3. Yes it takes more resources to run, but then think about the “minimum” requirements for XP when it came out. I wouldn’t dare send an XP machine into the field with only a P2 and 128MB of RAM, even though it will “run”.

    I have been running Vista for a long time now, almost since it came out retail. How many times has it crashed for me? Twice. Three times, if you include ALL of my user installs.

    I have tried Ubuntu and Fedora, and I don’t think they are ready for the business world. Maybe in five years, or if 100’s more developers really get behind those projects. Yes, they are “free”, but then what of support? Sure, you can pay for support for Linux… but how is that any better? And how is using something that is free any “safer” than a product you paid for? I’m not sure what kinds of “risks” are involved in using Vista. If you know of any, please enlighten us.

    I agree that the current marketing campaigns suck. The Seinfeld ad made me want a churro; I watched it seven times. It was like watching a train wreck: I couldn’t look away.

  10. Michael Pietroforte 14 years ago

    Eats,
    >>If you were given a choice of airlines to fly from A to B and one was free and just as safe as the other (in fact safer), which would you choose?

    I would choose the safe one. This is exactly the reason why I prefer Vista. It is simply more secure than XP.

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