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After Vista and XP, what then?

And don't just scream ‘Windows 7', ladies, life's not that simple. There are many and several operating systems in our collective computing future, and not just on your desktop.

When asked in a PC Advisor poll what they'll do when Windows 7 comes along, only 12.4 percent of the more than 1,600 respondents said they couldn't wait for Vista's successor. What about the rest?

Almost half of respondents say they'll stick with XP. Not sure about that. Microsoft may grudgingly accept that it made mistakes with Vista, but it won't tolerate you using XP when it's two iterations old.

There'll be no XP support, increasing numbers of products won't be compatible and it will look, well, old. XP is going to become the sole preserve of intransigent geeks, tech foot draggers and netbookers.

Better news for Microsoft is that more than 15 percent of poll respondents are using Windows Vista now, and intend to keep on doing so. It makes sense: there's nothing wrong with Vista that can't be solved by a sufficiently specified machine. And if Vista's birthing pangs taught us anything, it's that if your existing Windows OS ain't broke, upgrading certainly ain't gonna fix it.

But before Ballmer and the boys start feeling too smug, they should take account of this. More than 12 percent of PC Advisor readers intend to greet Windows 7 by buying a Mac (while continuing to read PCA, of course), and 10.5 percent say they will be going open source, and using a Linux OS.

If true, these figures reflect the increasingly fragmented nature of the desktop computing world. But that's something that matters less today than ever before. Windows, Mac or Linux, we can all access the same, rich, operating environment: the internet. And as the mobile phone market matures, we're all used to accessing the web, any time, any where.

After Vista and XP, we'll all use multiple operating systems, and we'll barely notice any of them.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest internet news, reviews, tips & tricks

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

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