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Hanging on to XP, singing up Vista 28 April, 2008

Posted by Jay Ball in Uncategorized.
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How much trouble is Vista actually in?

Just lately it seems to be one thing after another. First there were the stories of people “upgrading” Vista to XP. The the whole Vista-ready debacle and the resulting class-action lawsuit. And now we have panic setting in over the end-of-life of XP.

To get around the end-of-life problem according to a report on Silicon.com, Dell and HP are preparing to use the downgrade rights that come with Vista to carry on supplying XP preloaded on new machines. If this receives significant take-up it could be a real blow to Microsoft – new machines are the main route to upgrade for the vast majority of users and the one that will deliver the best Vista experience.

Of course it is almost inconceivable that Vista will fail. Windows as a whole still tops 90% market share and within that Vista racks up just over 14%, dwarfing OSX and Linux. It could be simply a case of allowing users to stall for time until Vista’s problems are ironed out. But with with the next version of Windows slated for a 2010 release (that’s if it comes out on time – a big if based on the experience of Vista/Longhorn) it is conceivable that people may leapfrog Vista and go straight from XP to Win7. And with the suggestion that Microsoft may delay the XP end-of-life date, this may become a very real possibility.

Of course, although bad, this would not be the worst possible outcome for Microsoft. That scenario is one where there is a wholesale shift to Linux allowing users to abandon paid-for licensed software for good. This last week has seen the release of the latest version of Ubuntu which is estimated to already have over 8 million users and offers the most Windows-like user-friendliness of the Linux flavours. Even Apple has been posting impressive sales results for its PCs – 51% more that the same quarter last year and an increase running at some five times the industry average. And, should we get to a ubiquitous web model where all that users need is a browser then all bets are off.

But back to today. Yes Vista is in trouble but I can’t see this as the tipping point for a wholesale migration away from Windows per se – not yet anyway. Personally, I think Microsoft would be mad not to extend XP’s life – no user wants to be forced into an upgrade (especially one that is receiving so much negative publicity), it will simply reinforce the view of Microsoft as an unhealthy monopoly.

In the meantime, to celebrate the release of Vista SP1 there’s this little gem which, depending who you believe is either ‘ironic’ or ‘moronic’ – you decide:

The lesson here: never, ever do a corporate song.

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