It may only be 23 months old but Vista has been widely panned by both businesses and home users. However, it may yet become the world's favourite OS - here's why.
Some of the reasons cited for Vista's supposed doom are unique to the new operating system. There's the widespread exercising of downgrade rights by users who purchase PCs with Vista but then revert to running XP. Mac OS X has taken some market share away from Windows over the past year. Cloud computing technologies offer new competition. And the scheduled 2010 arrival of Vista's successor, which Microsoft is calling Windows 7, looms on the horizon. Both Steward and Bowden said they will likely skip Vista entirely and wait for Windows 7.
But other strikes against Vista are ones that XP has also faced and overcome, such as a tottering economy (the dotcom bust, in XP's case), the belief that it was a piece of 'bloatware', accusations of price gouging by Microsoft, and apathy or revolt by end users.
For most users, "change is always bad", said Merrie Wales, information systems manager in a human resources department in Glenn County, California, who oversees 250 desktop PCs. She said that only a tiny portion of her users welcomed a move to Vista this spring. But, she noted, a similar sliver of users was happy when the agency finally upgraded to XP in 2006.
And the Vista rollout "has turned out much better than we anticipated", Wales said. "It's not a bad OS. There are big improvements under the hood."
There are other factors that brighten the long-term outlook for Vista. Application virtualisation technology is giving IT administrators new options for deploying software and avoiding compatibility problems. And with Vista, 64-bit computing finally appears to be catching on among more than just technology enthusiasts.
In addition, history tends to repeat itself. XP deployments eventually accelerated, reaching near-ubiquity by the time Vista finally debuted. Similarly, some industry observers expect rollouts of Vista to pick up - even in the shadow of Windows 7 - as a Vista SP2 arrives, companies refresh ageing hardware and the end of mainstream support for XP next April draws closer.
For instance, Gartner expects Vista to be running on 49 percent of all PCs worldwide by the end of next year - surpassing XP's market share, which the consulting firm forecasts at 44 percent.
Moreover, most of the talk among enterprise Vista holdouts is about sticking with XP or waiting for Windows 7 - not switching to Mac OS X or Linux. Cherry said skipping an operating system release may merely be a long-term trend, not an indication "of Vista being a failure." And he noted that until companies jump off the Windows treadmill instead of merely slowing it down, "Microsoft still makes its money".
- It may be hated now but things could turn around
- More reasons why Vista may still become the world's favourite OS