Microsoft Vista Having Some Problems?

Don’t let the spin fool you. Microsoft have agreed to extend the “end of shelf-life” date for Windows XP for another 5 months because people are just not buying into Vista in the way they hoped.

This is an embarassing climb-down for Microsoft, and one that I think has been forced by OEMs and resellers who are worried at slow sales of new hardware. This priceless quote from the head of PC World, a large UK retailler, sums it all up perfectly:

“Gross margins have been materially impacted as a result of increased promotional activity to reduce one-off hardware stock levels that resulted from lower than expected demand for Vista products.”

Bit of a mouthful, but fairly clear anyway: Vista just ain’t selling, and stores are left full of unsold kit that they expected to shift off the back of the Vista release.

Some of you may recall this has cropped up before, with my previous post about Dell taking the decision to start selling XP again after initially shifting their efforts onto selling just Vista systems outlining much of the problems that are just cropping up now. I’ve met very few people who have much good to say about this operating system.

Some of this criticism is undeserved, with a lot of complaints based on believing everything slashdot claims or on an unwillingness to try and learn new things, but there is no doubt that Vista does have problems. Driver support remains erratic, performance is awful in terms of “desktop experience” for the user no matter how well it performs in benchmarks, compatability is a crapshoot, and Linux and OSX just keep looking better and better all the time.

In his excellent book, “In Search of Stupidity”, Merrill Chapman talks about the mistakes IBM made with the release of OS/2. I won’t reprise the entire chapter here because that’s probably illegal and I regard the money I spent on the book as money very well spent so I think you should buy a copy too. But to cut a long story short he talks about the mistakes IBM made that ceded the PC OS market to Microsoft Windows. Let’s see now, he talks about dropping and adding features that offer no obvious advantage to the end-user, horrible delays and re-engineering of the project due to muddy thinking, and a bloated operating system that performed very badly on the hardware that was around when it was first released.

The question is, what will you do when your home computer or your business needs an upgrade. I think everyone who reads the archives on this site can figure out my opinion pretty quickly so I won’t keep repeating it, I’m more interested in what you are going to do. Is Windows Vista the victim of bad press and people who won’t give it a chance, or will it soon have to be renamed “Windows ME harder”? Will Leopard finally herald Apple Mac returning to the “mainstream” PC landscape? Can the Linux community even give away an alternative to Vista?

Whatever happens, it’s pretty clear that a few old established orders are under attack at the moment, and possibly from the worst possible direction too: from within.

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