During research for my series on Vista vs. Windows XP, I stumbled across an article at ChanelWeb that claimed that according to Gartner, the adoption of Vista by businesses is in line with that of XP at a comparable juncture after its release. As I will also publish an article at Computerwoche on this topic, I wanted to be sure if this surprising data really is correct. So I contacted Gartner and they were kind enough to mail me their latest numbers. This data does not exactly match with that of the ChannelWeb article, but it allows us to draw the same conclusion: the adoption rate of Windows Vista is indeed comparable to that of Windows XP after its release.
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Here are the numbers I received from Gartner:
PC Installed Base by Operating System, Worldwide
|Windows XP Home and Follow-Ons||12%||23%|
|Windows XP Professional||10%||40%|
|Windows Vista Home||0%||16%|
|Windows Vista Business||0%||13%|
Windows XP was released on October 25, 2001. The market share of Windows XP Professional was 10% after approximately two years. Windows Vista was available to business customers on November 8, 2006 and was available to the public on January 30, 2007. If Gartner's prediction is correct, then Windows Vista Business will be installed on 13% of all PCs worldwide at the end of 2008. This means that the adoption rate of Vista will be a little faster than that for XP following its release. The same applies to the consumer versions.
According to the data in my poll, the situation looks a little better for Vista because 17% of my readers have already started moving to Vista and 12% plan to do so in 2008. Note that in my poll, I didn't ask about the number of PCs running Vista. Starting with a deployment does not imply that all PCs in an organization run Vista.
Anyway, these numbers indicate that all the gossip about Vista's failure is just nonsense. If Vista is a failure, then XP is one as well, because it was not adopted any faster. I am quite fascinated by how this gossip spreads on the Internet. Take this new InfoWeek article as an example. The author, Paul McDougall, refers to a Symantec executive who said that
…only a small percentage of the security software company's large enterprise customers have upgraded their corporate PCs to Vista.
So, only a "small percentage" have upgraded to Vista? Could I have some concrete numbers, please? A "small percentage" probably refers only to the personal assessment of this Symantec executive. Maybe he expected or hoped that more of Symantec's customers would have adopted Vista already. And that's why it is only "small." It is also a matter of fact that large enterprises adopt new operating systems at a much slower pace than small and mid-sized organizations do. Obviously, this statement contains absolutely no valuable information about Vista's pace of adoption.
Later in the article, the author cites Windows license sales for Microsoft's fiscal third quarter to confirm his point. However, everyone knows that license sales, especially for just one quarter, can't tell you anything about Vista's adoption. You might as well believe Microsoft who says that 140 million Windows licenses sold "proves" that Vista is a great success. The only thing that really counts is the number of Vista machines out there. And if you want to know if Vista is a success or a failure, you have to compare its adoption rate to other operating systems such as Windows XP.
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Now look at how many news sites and blogs copied this story and what they make of this "data." Again, everyone is convinced that Vista must be a really big failure. I must admit, I am quite shocked about all of this. Not because of Vista, but of how our "free media" work. In contrast to the situation in totalitarian countries, in the "free world," the media aren't told what to write by the government. Instead, readers are in control - because the only thing that really counts is the number of clicks. It seems to me that more and more journalists and bloggers tend to write what everyone likes to hear, regardless of whether it is true or not.