revisited: Microsoft system update far from a runaway success
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
August 14-20, 2007; Issue 929
High Tech Office
Windows Vista was released to the general public in January (large
enterprises got access to it in November) so it’s been out and about
for some six months now. The company claims it’s quite successful. It
points to sales of more than 40 million in the first hundred days of
release, noting that this is about double the sales of Windows XP at
the same point in its lifecycle.
On the other hand, others point
to signs suggesting that Vista is not quite a runaway success. Among
their evidence: Dell’s announcement that it was allowing home PC buyers
to opt for XP. (Dell also announced that it is offering Ubuntu Linux
pre-installed on some models.) Some of the scoffers now compare Vista
to Windows ME II.
The September 2000-released Windows ME was
dubbed “Mistake Edition” when PC World listed it as No. 4 among the top
25 worst tech products of all time. In an admittedly unscientific
recent online poll by ZDNet, 69% of the recipients considered Vista as
Microsoft’s sales figures can legitimately be
questioned. If nothing else, PC sales are now some 79% higher they were
in 2001 when XP was first released, so everything being equal it’s not
surprising to find many more Vista licences being sold.
stated that it was counting licences sold to PC makers to pre-install
Vista on their computers, copies shipped for sale retail, upgrade
coupons redeemed by people who bought new PCs in the months prior to
the Vista release and paid downloads using a new Microsoft service.
counted are sales to large business and government accounts; these
users, however, tend to be slow to upgrade their Windows versions.
to research company IDC, of six million PCs sold to large U.S.
enterprises in the first quarter, only one million included Vista
licences, and an uncounted number of those were probably erased and
replaced with corporate software images that included XP.
running XP have been relatively slow to upgrade to Vista. The new
system requires lots of memory and powerful graphics. It also requires
users to get new versions of some applications, including antivirus
software, or popular applications from Adobe and Intuit. While Vista
has a number of improvements and nice features, few consider it a
And while Windows XP is generally considered
a success – if nothing else, it’s had the longest run of any Windows
version – when it was first released in October 2001, it wasn’t a
runaway success. In the aftermath of the dot.com crash, PC sales were
lower than the previous year. And many businesses stuck with the
previous year’s release of Windows 2000 for quite a while following
Despite the naysayers, Microsoft seems to be doing quite well on
Windows sales, thank you.
company reported profits of US$6.1 billion on operating sales for the
last two quarters, representing some 80% of the company’s earnings.
I run Vista on a couple of systems, and in my experience, on up-to-date
hardware it performs well.
are some software incompatibilities and potential concerns upgrading
older systems, but these have been issues for every new version of
Vista is Microsoft’s most visually appealing Windows
release and includes improved security and support for a number of
technologies not included in XP. (XP has no built-in DVD viewer, for
Still, having been working with Vista since before
its release, I have to agree with the widespread sentiment that it
lacks what the tech industry used to call a killer app.
Large enterprises will adopt it eventually.
most small business and home users will get it pre-installed on their
next PC. Unless they buy a Mac or get one of Dell’s new Linux