Intel stays behind the curve ... again

Intel stays behind the curve ... again

Summary: Intel’s decision to continue using Windows XP instead of migrating to Windows Vista is being spun as a stunning rebuke to Microsoft and a rejection of Windows Vista. Except that there’s nothing new here. The same thing happened in 2002, when Windows XP was shiny and new. Corporations like Intel are always slow to roll out new Windows versions. Add in a slowing economy and a new Windows version due to arrive next year and you have all the ingredients an IT department needs to skip a version. So why is this a surprise to anyone?


The Inquirer is making a big fuss over Intel’s decision to continue using Windows XP instead of migrating to Windows Vista. A stunning rebuke, obviously, leading to a rousing chorus of “I told you so.”

Except that there’s nothing new here. The same thing happened in 2002, when Windows XP was shiny and new. What, you don’t remember? Why, I read it in the Inquirer, on January 10, 2002:

Windows XP might be the "best OS Microsoft ever produced" but it's [sic] long time partner Intel thinks that ain't necessarily so.

The corporation, which has around 80,000 employees, is rolling out Windows 2K rather than the latest greatest OS from Microsoft.

The decision was taken last year and Intel will spend much of this year standardising on W2K in every site and country in the world.

By the end of 2002, Windows 2000 was three years old, and Intel was just completing its OS rollout, skipping the then-current version. Sound familiar?

Steve Lohr of The New York Times piles on with this observation: 

Large companies routinely hold off a year or so after a new version of Windows is introduced before adopting it, waiting for initial bugs to be eliminated and for applications to be written. “But by 18 months, you’d expect to see a significant uptake, and we haven’t seen that,” said David Smith, a Gartner analyst. “There’s not much excitement.”

I don’t know what they’re putting in the brownies at Gartner these days, but by 18 months, most large organizations are just beginning to complete their evaluations of how their internal applications run on a new operating system family. Only a tiny percentage of enterprises do “forklift upgrades,” where every corporate PC is upgraded to a new OS in a short time. Not much excitement? Corporations don't look for excitement in their IT investments. They look for stability and compatibility and, especially in the current economy, low costs.

I wrote about all this about six months ago (“Windows adoption rates: a history lesson”), and nothing has changed since then. Back in 2001, when Microsoft released Windows XP, Gartner correctly predicted that large businesses would shun both Windows 2000 and XP, with 75 percent sticking with Windows 95, 98, and NT4 at the end of 2002. What was XP’s market share one year after its release? Try “less than 10 percent.” How long was it before XP hit the 50% mark in terms of market share? The correct answer is “four years.”

Meanwhile, the real problem with any comparison between adoption rates of Windows XP and Windows Vista is the decision that Microsoft made in 2004 to ship Service Pack 2 as a free update rather than a new OS version. If Jim Allchin had made a different call and released XP SP2 as a separate product, Windows XP might have gone into the record books as a miserable failure, plagued by security problems and shunned by customers. Instead, it got a new lease on life and an unprecedented seven-year release cycle.

It’s unquestionably true that large businesses have resisted Vista. That’s not surprising, given the problems in the initial release and the relentlessly negative press coverage. But an equally important reason for the continued sluggishness in Vista uptake rates is the economy, which has slowed to a crawl. In trying economic times, one way for big corporations like Intel to save money is to stretch the useful life of hardware and software investments. Intel’s decision makers no doubt have a pretty good idea what’s in Windows 7 and when it’s likely to be released. Their decision to skip Vista tells me that the next version of Windows is further along than most outsiders think.

Topics: Intel, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • sorry analysis

    So Intel's behind the curve because XP works just fine for
    them. Maybe they have better things to do than upgrade all
    workstations for marginal improvements.
    • Marginal improvements?

      Sorry, I guess i'm satisfied with my XP, works everytime, does dependable work, my time is productive, lots of add-ons available etc.
      Since the second day of starting up Vista, I have had crashes, blue screens, conflicts, hangs, trying to work waiting for vista to catch up with my train of thought, and having to constantly restore the system files, and create new restore points each time I add new programs to the system.
      I guess I'm just spoiled by my friendship with XP. I wanted an OS that was friendly to work alongside my XP on a newer machine, what I got was an autistic jekl and hyde in vista.
      I wish I had exercised the vision and patience of people like Intel and most of the business community at large.
      I wanted another Mustang and got a Pinto.
      Thats my take, anyone wanta buy an HP with Vista? will consider trading up to an older XP model.
      Buff Loon
      Buff Loon
      • Gee... Given your experiences, you got problems.

        Maybe you should be taking a hard look at your hardware and the associated drivers that go along with it. As Ed himself proved, Vista, run with CORRECT and up to date drivers will run just as well as XP.
  • Did you notice...

    that part of the report says that the higher-ups use

    That could be part of the reason why Intel is not
    interested in being Vistaed.

    Like IBM, perhaps Intel is getting OS agnostic and
    letting users actually choose instead of forcing them
    into what so many (including this author) regard as
    second-best choices.

    Companies no longer are able to force employees to
    use technologies that they simply do not want to use.
    Jeremy W
    • Where?

      I just reread the Inky story and the NY Times post I linked to. Neither one says anything about "higher-ups using Macs." What are you referring to?
      Ed Bott
      • Read some of his other posts here

        in refernce to Microsoft.
        He has a seething hatered of anything related to Micosoft, so if conjuring up some unsubstantiated (read: "created") facts are needed, you will find he has quite a boatload of those.
        • Read some of your posts too...

          We can count on your unbiased view of the computing landscape - Providing it is pro-Microsoft, of course.

          You can be lumped into a class labeled 'Microsoft Apologist'.
      • Go here:
        Jeremy W
        • Not sure I understand your point

          Intel supplies the chips used in all Macs made for the past 2+ years. Of course I would expect that some Intel employees would use Macs in at leat rough proportion to their market share. The fact that Intel's CEO owns a Mac (presumably one of several computers he uses) hardly proves your point that "perhaps Intel is getting OS agnostic and letting users actually choose..."
          Ed Bott
          • When the CEO

            uses it, it makes it okay, just as when the CEO uses an
            iPhone it is olay.

            IT people are capable of reading tea leaves (and market
            share trend lines) just like anyone else. They know
            that when the CEO blesses it, it is okay. American
            industry is far beyond the "sauce for me but not sauce
            for you" mentality.

            Moreover, Ottelini uses VM Ware and gets all the
            benefit (such as it is) from both sides.

            BTW: is this not what has been promised for years:
            choice, not being chained to any OS, etc.? If windows
            is best, use it; if Mac is best, use it, etc. This adds real
            substance to that notion. I might point out that Mac
            sales increases are far beyond those of HP, Dell,
            Lenovo, Toshiba, in spite of Macs initial higher cost.

            Let's see, it costs more but more people are buying
            them. Maybe there is a reason?
            Jeremy W
          • More data. Those who use Dells & HPs are behind curve?

            This article indicates that Macs are in approximately
            80% of all corporations:

            Note also that 28% of firms use Macs in Virtual

            It looks like more and more firms (Intel also?) are
            getting OS agnostic and using VM Ware or other
            virtualization software.

            With Macs able to run OSX, Windows, Linux, etc., it
            looks like those who use Dells and HPs are the ones
            who are behind the curve, wouldn't you say, Ed? They
            just do not have the full range of choices available to
            Mac users.

            Maybe even Intel is going to replace its 80K Win
            machines with Mac and be way ahead of the curve:

            Jeremy W
          • Macs Marketshare is up

            but it's not significant outside of the U.S. The reason I bring that up is not to knock Apple, but your point that Intel can read the tea leaves. Intel sells CPUs around the world, not just the U.S. The jury isn't out on Win vs OS X, it hasn't even been seated.

            In the U.S., there's no doubt that Apple has made incredible strides in teh last few years, but it has nothing to do with this blog entry.

            Ed is right, XP was not adopted by businesses any quicker than vista. I increasingly think that people who comment on tech sites/forums weren't following tech in 2001. Those that were ought to remember how slow the uptake was. I personally remember my company moving to 2000 somewhere around the middle to end of 2002. I saw exactly one XP machine and the only reason we had it was to verify that our SIP client worked on the new OS.

            I personally like Vista, but if the public doesn'[t, so be it...but I see little evidence that that's really the case. Mac vs Windows aside, most of the people who complain about Vista, it seems, have either never run the OS, or haven't run it in over a year.

            Personally, I've had exactly one os crash, and that was caused by a poorly seated Video card.
          • The jury isn't out on Win vs OS X,

            I submit that it is settled: Macs are better. This has
            been done in the most sophisticated market in the
            world: the USA.

            Of course, if you talk about other markets, that is not
            true. Look at the Mac growth rates in the USA and they
            are substantially above HP, Dell, Toshiba, etc.

            New innovations always begin at the margin. When
            Mac attains market share in double digits (in late 2010
            or 2011), then many who post here will remember this
            post. When Apple overtakes Dell, remember this post.

            Why do you suppose Michael Dell asked to be able to
            run OSX on Dells?
            Jeremy W
          • settled by who?

            5% in the US and a rounding error in the rest of the world? Wow, talk about elitism. Apple has it settled that they are great marketers of MP3 players and not-so-smartphones and that's about it.

            OS X gets another sideline for the development of the iPhone for slow leopard. A pause on new features indeed.

            As for the US being the most sophisticated market, you must think it's got electrolytes.
          • Anti-competative.

            Seems to me that Windows will run on ANY machine, but the holy grail OSX will only run on APPLE hardware.

            Can you imagine the uproar if MICROSOFT prevented its OS running on APPLE hardware. Seems to me that APPLE is being rather anti-competative here.

            Of course, never let the truth get in the way of a good rant.
      • For IBM allowing Macs...

        go here:

        Macs run Vista better than HP or Dell (see here:,136649-page,3-
        c,notebooks/article.html ); they run OSX better than.....
        They run any PC software....

        Remind me again who is behind the curve? Is it the
        person who is (now) chained to Vista (or who could
        upgrade to XP, if he can find the OS on the internet
        somewhere) or is it the Mac user who can choose
        among OSX, Vista, Linux or what ever he wants. It
        looks like the person who MUST use Vista is the one
        behind the curve, no? After all, the MAc user has all
        that flexibility
        Jeremy W
        • bit of falsehood... and PC can run Linux... it's not just Macs...

          "Is it the person who is (now) chained to Vista [...] or is it the Mac user who can choose among OSX, Vista, Linux or what ever he wants"

          you say that as though any PC you buy is chained 100% to vista, while a Mac (which somehow is not a Personal Computer, aka PC... but that's a different rant, for a later time)... a Mac can somehow magically run any OS...

          a Mac could run XP better than it could run Vista, I'd expect, on top of the other issues with your statement...

          if you can run windows, you can run Linux. If it can't run windows, and only supports Solaris? it can run linux. If it runs z/OS? it can run Linux.

          The only "flexibility" that a Mac has over any other PC? is that it can run Mac OS.
          • The only "flexibility" that a Mac has over any other PC...

            The vast majority of users who use Mac say that that is
            the ONLY flexibility they need.

            Yes, some use VM Ware with XP to run the odd bit of
            Win software that is not in OSX format (yes, yes, I know
            about obscure games and apps....) but most seem
            deliciously happy with their Macs.

            Macs can run the major OSes: OSX + XP/Vista;
            HP/Dell can run only XP/Vista;
            Mac sales growth is 4-6X that of HP/Dell.
            Remind me again who is behind the curve?
            Jeremy W
          • Only thing special about a mac is its high price

            research hackintosh - if your so inclined to run OS-X on your PC. Shhh... don't tell the mac fan boys, they'll get upset and might fall off their self proclaimed pedestals.
          • Do the research...

            online and you will find that comparably equipped
            Macs are the same or lower price as HPs or Dells.

            This is, by now, urban myth, not worth repeating.

            Besides, as any Mac user can tell you, a comparably
            (hardware) equipped Mac is far more valuable than an
            HP/Dell because it has the flexibility to use both Mac
            and Win (but, of course, almost no Mac user would
            want to pollute his superbly operating Mac with

            If you doubt the equal pricing, let me know; I'll be
            happy to provide references.
            Jeremy W