Joe Wilcox over at Microsoft-Watch is watching Vista sales very closely and what he sees from a variety of sources is that Vista – after an initial inventory bulking up in the marketplace by OEMs – is doing very poorly. The most salient fact – after the Microsoft Vista marketing blitz consumers intentions on buying Vista translated from “Not Sure” to “Stick with my Existing OS” and intentions to upgrade declined from 20% to 12% from December 2006 to March 2007. This is really bad news for Redmond stockholders.
So in the aftermath Joe and others attempt to analyze why Vista is not doing well. And the general consensus is the Wow versus Windows XP was just not there. Also higher prices and complex buying decision with 6 basic SKUs really become close to 3 dozen when upgrades and language versions are taken into account – these are conjectured as the deflating factors. I would like to add the Anti-People Ready factor into the less than enthusiastic reaction to Vista:
1)Vista requires a complex upgrade process and likely a buy of new memory or CPU power or both:
2)Vista requires new learning curve for a lot of utilities and functions that work just fine in XP;
3)Vista presents some serious peripheral compatibility problems for many users;
4)Vista also presents some serious software compatibility problems as well;
5)Vista also, on the same hardware, has real performance hits;
6)Office 2007 which came out at the same time and is jointly marketyed with Vista, has an even bigger re-learning curve;
7)For Windows developers its chaos city as the coming Orcas version of Visual Studio will just start to deliver real Vista development tools;
8)But even here there are serious COM, VBA, and even early .NET framework “conversion” costs.
In short, Vista is not People Ready.
Microsoft should have taken a leaf from Adobe that made their beta of Photoshop CS3 freely available to existing customers for 5-6 months ahead of the final release. Microsoft should have continued with Vista development until most of the above problems, especially the bloat, peripherals, and software compatibility could be eliminated. But that is now water over the damned.
So it was interesting to see how much commentary Joe got for this column (34 comments at last count – I would love to get 1/4 of that). First to my surprise there were no supporters of Vista among the commenters. But Joes readers are recommending (often many different readers):
– simplify the SKUs down to 3;
– clean up the peripheral and software compatibility problems;
– lower the prices drastically
– get rid of UAC, DRM and other performance inhibiting features;
– provide better getting started and user support.
So having delivered the second coming of the Edsel, how is Microsoft Marketing responding to Vistas problems in the market? None of the above, of course – rather it appears to be a knee-jerk response. The rumor mill is that Redmond is thinking of curtailing the supported life of Windows XP to sometime in 2008. Hmmm – maybe they see their customers as being quite pliable and ultimately dependent and therefore acquiescent to Redmonds “forced march” directions. Maybe Stephen Wheelwright at desktoplinux.com is right – Microsoft has dissipated a lot of customer good will already. Maybe they will blunder away even more and make both Linux and Mac look like very attractive safe havens.