Microsoft walks the Vista-projection tightrope

Summary:It's definitely a balancing act for Microsoft. The company wants to encourage users to upgrade (preferably via new PC preloads), but doesn't want to scare off the ones who are interested in running Vista on older machines.

Microsoft's in a tough spot, regarding the flood of Vista upgrade projections issued by a variety of firms over the past couple of weeks.

The bulk of the reports I've seen are warning users that they should expect to have to upgrade their existing machines, or preferably, buy brand-new ones, in order to run Windows Vista.

(A number of these studies have been issued by companies who make their bread and butter from selling new PCs, PC components and/or software. Sure, these firms might have separate research and sales divisions, but it still seems like somewhat of a conflict of interest to me.)

At the same time, Microsoft and others (including our own ZDNet blogger Ed Bott) have publicly claimed that Vista won't be as much of a hardware hog as many are claiming, and that a large number of existing PCs will be able to run Vista just fine, thanks.

So where does the truth lie? In that fuzzy area in between, according to Brad Goldberg, general manager of Windows client product management.

Microsoft is of the opinion that businesses tend to replace up to one-third of their PCs each year, Goldberg said. And "the majority" of the new PCs going in these days are definitely Vista-Premium-ready, he said.

"PC deployment is aligning with PC refresh" on the enterprise side of the house, Goldberg says. And even though Microsoft has focused heavily with Vista on new and improved deployment tools, "very few businesses are planning on doing in-place (Vista) upgrades," Goldberg acknowledges.

What about on the consumer side? What's Microsoft expecting, in terms of Vista deployment strategies, among users who will be able to get their hands on code starting January 30, 2007?

Microsoft is predicting "the vast majority of consumers also will receive Vista when they buy new PCs," Goldberg says.

It's definitely a balancing act for Microsoft. The company wants to encourage users to upgrade (preferably via new PC preloads), but doesn't want to scare off the ones who are interested in running Vista on older machines.

Topics: Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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