Was Vista the biggest mistake Microsoft ever made? Judging by the rows of unloved laptops in a Wellington computer store last week, you just might think so. Every machine that had Vista installed was 25 per cent off.
Those that had Windows XP Pro installed had a smaller or no discount. With Windows 7 now on the scene, retailers are certainly struggling to shift the unpopular Vista.
I have been on the road again and the trade tells me they expect many businesses as well as home users to upgrade their PCs and laptops because the far more machine- and user-friendly Windows 7 is here.
One retailer added that because Microsoft is so pervasive and powerful, earlier trends towards open source have fizzled out as the public believe there is no real alternative to the Redmond giant!
Thus, the public put up with Vista for so long, and now that they can move, they will, even if for another Microsoft product. As a Vista user myself, I can concur with such hostility to Vista.
There are also other factors behind an extra boost to PC and laptop sales — declining build quality. Five years ago, I was told, a new laptop or PC might last five years. Four years ago, they might last four years, and two years ago, one might last two years.
This is because machines are typically built, bought and sold on price.
As prices have dropped, so has the quality of parts. It is also increasingly cheaper to throw the laptop away than repair it. We might not actually have reached the age of the disposable laptop but I was told replacing a screen will cost more than replacing an entire machine.
Furthermore, with machines typically being sold on price, end users are ending up with machines below spec and not fit for purpose. My two-year-old Toshiba has been running happily, but recent music downloads and growing picture files has dented performance severely. I have had to delete stuff and been advised to buy devices to store extra memory.
As for build quality, the port that takes my power cord seems worn and actually powering the laptop is becoming difficult. In fact, the device has just "died" and now I am writing this in a motel office. Like I say, the machine was just two years old, and bought for £400 in Britain.
Perhaps I should have bought a dearer one. But if I am forking out for a new one soon, at least it won't have Windows Vista, even though I do love a bargain!