Vista fights for relevancy against poor sales, XP, Windows 7

Microsoft has expressed disappointment in Vista's lethargic sales growth.

Marginal 2 percent growth notwithstanding, it hasn't been all bad news for Vista over the past six months. Kay of Endpoint Technologies emphasized that "Vista has made improvements, notably with security and interface" and is "an overall good experience these days."

An IDC report from March 2008 predicts a "much stronger adoption curve for Vista on the business side now that Windows Server 2008 has launched." Similarly, an April 2008 report from Forrester Research entitled "Building the Business Case for Windows Vista" lays out the potential "harsh realities" for businesses that skip Vista.

A common Microsoft defense about Vista is that it has been unfairly battered by the press and that Vista adoption among businesses is actually outpacing what Windows XP did in the same timeframe.

Indeed, numbers from an April 2008 research report from Gartner show that both Windows XP and Windows Vista started at the same installed base percentage (4.7 percent) in 2002 and 2007, respectively, and the Windows XP business installed base figure was 16.9 percent in 2003 compared with a projected Windows Vista business installed base of 21.3 percent in 2008.

However, these Vista growth measurements were held up to scrutiny and Microsoft was accused of spin because Windows XP had to compete with Windows 2000 Professional upgrades during its early years, and Vista did not have to deal with such obstacles. In fact, six years had passed between XP's release and Vista's release.

So as we head into the holiday season in an uncertain economy, Vista is getting bounced around between Microsoft's proud claims of widespread customer satisfaction, conflicting research reports of success and failure and screams from industry watchers that Vista is dead.

Kay says that regardless of improvements in Vista and reports of continued growth, Microsoft's mind's eye is set squarely on Windows 7.

Adds Kay, "Microsoft has a history of being more excited by future products than current ones, and that has taken some of the wind out of Vista's sails."

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Shane O'Neill

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