Windows 7 is surging. After a massively popular beta cycle, Microsoft's latest OS has exploded out of the gate, grabbing more than 4 percent of the real-world user base after only a few weeks of general availability.
More tellingly, Windows 7 is grabbing a sizable chunk of our new users. Fully 10 percent of the most recent registrants are running some version of Windows 7, which is remarkable; after three years in the market, Windows Vista still barely registers above the 30 percent level.
And even that number is beginning to erode: as Windows 7 picks up user share, it seems to be making most of its gains at the expense of Vista. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between Windows 7 adoption and Vista abandonment, with the latter losing a percentage point and the former gaining the same in a little over a week.
XP: still going strong
Of course, the lion's share of our user base remains on Windows XP. And with this legacy OS holding steady at just under 64 percent, it seems clear that the fence-sitters in the Vista-versus-XP debate remain firmly seated on their perches. In fact, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see this early Windows 7 surge taper off as the enthusiast euphoria fades and is replaced by the slow, steady grind of the corporate refresh cycle.
Still, this is an encouraging result for Microsoft and shows that there is indeed pent-up demand for something better than Vista - even if much of that demand seems to be coming from Vista adopters themselves. It will be interesting see if this one-for-one user share correlation continues in the coming weeks. Will anyone still be using Vista a year from now?
Of course, the big question is whether XP hold-outs will finally migrate away from this nearly nine-year-old OS. So far, Vista is seeing the bulk of the user share erosion. If this trend continues, it's quite conceivable that Microsoft could see Windows 7's growth stall as the flood of Vista converts runs its course and the XP users stand their ground.
Such an outcome would be disastrous for Microsoft. It desperately needs to regain control of the Windows release cycle with Windows 7, and simply swapping the Vista community - which, by all accounts, is ready to move almost immediately - isn't going to do the trick.