Back in January when Vista launched, I posted several articles about it that said, among other things, that the business user (e.g. us solo and small firm lawyers) should take a “wait and see” attitude towards upgrading, at least until the first service pack is released. Now, over seven months after the release, users seem to be following that path. SP1 has just been released to beta, and if it has a general release soon, first quarter 2008 sales figures should indicate whether people are delaying the upgrade for that reason, or because they just do not think Vista is worth it.

Another indication that Vista is not setting the world on fire is yesterday’s article posted to the PCWorld blog stating that XP is still strong in retail sales (outside OEM distribution with new machines) and many vendors are extending the XP offering with new PC sales. Reasons for this cited in the article included:

  • Known application compatibility with XP vs. Vista;
  • A lack of “must-have” features in Vista;
  • Familiarity with XP that keeps it in the user’s “comfort zone”

Certainly the sales statistics on adoption of Vista over XP fall far below those when XP was released over Windows 98. PCWorld’s web site tracking data shows this as can be seen by this bar graph.

A colleague of mine told me recently that he will continue to buy new machines with XP until he can’t find a vendor to sell him one; then he will upgrade. Microsoft has even recognized this, according to PCWorld, which stated that:

“in August, Microsoft announced an XP Service Pack 2c release that does nothing more than add new Windows XP product keys so the company can keep selling the OS to businesses through January 31, 2009.”

Users acknowledge the fact that there is lots of “eye candy” in Vista with the Aero graphical interface, but are doubting the utility of the upgrade beyond that. Ultimately, as the cost of the hardware required to run Vista gets cheaper, and third party developers (and maybe Microsoft itself) add functionality, Vista will become the standard for PC operating systems. Microsoft may indeed be compelled to do this if Dell’s sales of Ubuntu Linux machines take off and other hardware vendors follow suit. Market competition is good and may just be the “kick in the pants” that Microsoft needs to make Vista truly worthy of our upgrade dollars.

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