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Ballmer: Microsoft Unlikely To Top Vista's 'Success'

Apple taunts it, businesses won't touch it, and even Microsoft no longer mentions it by name in ads. Yet Windows Vista, according to Steve Ballmer, has been such a smashing success that Microsoft is unlikely to match it anytime soon.
Apple taunts it, businesses won't touch it, and even Microsoft no longer mentions it by name in ads. Yet Windows Vista, according to Steve Ballmer, has been such a smashing success that Microsoft is unlikely to match it anytime soon.Said Ballmer, at an industry confab in Brazil last week: "We're not going to have products that are much more successful than Vista has been."

Say what? Hang on a sec, would you please, Dear Reader.

Thanks -- I'm back. I just had to go dump a few thousand Microsoft shares. [Disclosure: I don't really own Microsoft shares, but if I did ...]

Ballmer's statement is utterly bizarre, given industry backlash against Vista during its short, unhappy life. Complaints over the OS's hardware requirements, application incompatibilities, and intrusive security measures abound.

The majority of large businesses and government agencies in the United States, including Maine's IT department, will likely skip Vista entirely and proceed directly to Windows 7 from Windows XP. And a survey released earlier this month by the United Kingdom's Corporate IT Forum showed that only 4% of businesses in that country are using Vista, which has now been on the market for almost two years.

So, 4% corporate adoption in two years -- now that's what I call success! And how about those 1-5 Seattle Seahawks, Steve -- ya picking them to go all the way?

So how is Ballmer defining Vista's success? Sheer numbers tell the tale, insists Microsoft's CEO. The company sold more than 180 million copies of Vista during the OS's first 18 months on the market, making it Microsoft's best-selling product ever, Ballmer noted.

But numbers don't tell the whole story. In fact, they're quite misleading. Damn lies and statistics and all that.

Vista has outsold Windows XP in terms of units shipped, but only because the PC market is today twice as big as it was when XP debuted in late 2001. Adjusting for market size, Vista lays an egg in comparison.

Microsoft sold 100 million copies of Vista between January 2007 and January 2008, when PC shipments totaled 256 million units. It sold almost as many copies of XP, 89 million, between 2002 and 2003 -- when PC shipments totaled only 132 million units.

So, in its rookie year, XP grabbed 67% of the new PC market, while Vista only got 39% in its inaugural season. And unlike XP, Vista has been critically savaged by IT pros, pundits, and everyday computer users alike. Is that the kind of "success" that, according to Ballmer, Microsoft is going to be hard-pressed to duplicate?

That's scary, and doesn't exactly raise expectations for Windows 7, does it?