Business-like, isn't he?



Business in Vancouver logo

    Vista revisited: Microsoft system update far from a runaway success

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business in Vancouver 

    August 14-20, 2007; Issue 929

    High Tech Office

    Microsoft’s 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 “Me II.”

    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.

    Microsoft 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.
    Not counted are sales to large business and government accounts; these users, however, tend to be slow to upgrade their Windows versions.

    According 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.

    People 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 must-have upgrade.

    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 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 XP’s release.

    Despite the naysayers, Microsoft seems to be doing quite well on Windows sales, thank you.
    The 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.
    There are some software incompatibilities and potential concerns upgrading older systems, but these have been issues for every new version of Windows.

    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 instance.)

    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.

    And 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 pre-installs. •

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan