Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
9/28/2007
12:16 PM
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Vista Has Failed To Push Aside Its Older Brother

It looks like Microsoft may be backing down, ever so slightly, from its stance that Vista is the best thing to happen to consumers and businesses since the invention of the can opener. The company announced yesterday that it's extending availability of XP for another five months to June 30, 2008. In other words, if you want XP, you can still get it.

It looks like Microsoft may be backing down, ever so slightly, from its stance that Vista is the best thing to happen to consumers and businesses since the invention of the can opener. The company announced yesterday that it's extending availability of XP for another five months to June 30, 2008. In other words, if you want XP, you can still get it.Of course, the company is taking the best stance on this that it can. In Microsoft's recent press release, Mike Nash, corporate vice president, Windows Product Management, asserts that, "With more than 60 million licenses sold as of this summer, Windows Vista is on track to be the fastest-selling operating system in Microsoft's history." And then he adds, "Some [customers] need more time, and we understand and respect that."

My memory of the transition between Windows 98 and Windows XP isn't perfect, but while there were a number of people (including me) who didn't rush to purchase XP to replace their current versions of Win98, I don't remember hearing about anyone who bought a new machine and demanded that the older OS be installed. On the other hand, I've met several consumers who, having decided that it's time for a new notebook or desktop system, are poking around the online sales sites trying to figure out whether it's possible to stick with XP.

Why? One of the reasons may be that, despite careful explanations and applets that test compatibility, the range of Vista types and hardware requirements still confuse the heck out of the day-to-day consumer. Not to mention reports of applications that won't run, or tweaks that need to be made. Whether these reports are still true, or left over from when Vista was first released, they are still affecting consumers' willingness to move to the new OS. And businesses, as eager as they may be to take advantage of Vista's new features, may be slow to invest in the kind of hardware that they need to support it.

It's smart of Microsoft to push XP's availability date a few months (although I imagine that a sudden surge of XP panic-buying might not hurt the bottom line). But the company is being besieged on two fronts: on the consumer side, from Apple users who aren't being asked to choose from a multitude of confusing hardware and software iterations in order to get up and running; on the business side, from Linux advocates who are starting to offer businesses additional choices for less money. While Redmond may insist (not without justification) that neither of these are threatening Microsoft's current place in the market, the continued reluctance of its customer base to adopt the new OS can't be making its executives happy.

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