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If Vista's a fail, Windows 7 is a cash cow

Windows VistaI can't lie, I've grown fond of Windows Vista. Like the perfect life partner it's pretty, practical and mostly stable. Sure, it flakes out on occasion, but we all have our slow days, right? [Editor's note: get on with it.]

Nevertheless, in the final months of Windows Vista's reign as the top dog at Microsoft, around 64 percent of PC Advisor readers are still running Windows XP on their PCs. Top dog? You lot think Vista is a hound. (Click here for the full PCA Windows stats.)

According to Windows user stats gathered from the 4,000 users of our free, online PC Performance Monitor tool, only around 34 percent of you are running Vista, with the remaining 2 percent already enjoying some variant of the Windows 7 Beta/Release Candidate.

Such stats may explain Microsoft's keenness to get Windows 7 on to store shelves - nearly three years after Vista was finally completed, two-thirds of a group of passionate, educated and tech-savvy Windows users have remained faithful to XP. Worse, a small percentage prefer to use an operating system (OS) that remains in beta.

If Vista was a rip-roaring commercial success, Microsoft might still be about to release a new OS product - but I'd wager it'd be called ‘Vista SP3'. You don't have to be a cynic to believe that this is exactly what Windows 7 represents (although it helps).

Windows Vista's perceived failure is not due to it being an inherently bad piece of code. Vista's unpopularity stems from the fact that it limped out late, on insufficiently specced PCs, missing promised features.

And once labelled a failure, Vista was condemned to remain thus.

So the Microsoft marketing machine is now offering creaking XP systems and self-loathing Vista users the chance to start again with a brand-new OS.

Here comes the irony bit: if Vista had been a success, there'd be no Windows 7 and no rush to buy it. Botching the Vista launch may have cost Microsoft dearly, but it's set to reap the rewards now.

See also: Microsoft to KO Google in (Windows) 7

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