Slow start for Vista? So what else is new?

Slow start for Vista? So what else is new?

Summary: Businesses don't want to upgrade. Hardware makers are dragging their feet producing compatible drivers. Windows users are sticking with the old version because the new one isn't all that different. Sound familiar? This month's Vista predictions are ripped straight from the headlines in the late 1990s.

TOPICS: Windows

As part of a consulting contract, I've been reading up on the history of Windows in the mid-1990s. Given the criticisms of Windows Vista I've been seeing lately, I thought this article from InfoWorld in March 18, 1996 (seven months after the launch of Windows 95) was interesting:

"I'm finding it difficult to convince my clients to look at 32-bit Windows. Most of them are choosing to stay in 16-bit Windows-land, at least until [1997], they tell me," [one consultant] says.

Gee, people took their own sweet time to upgrade to the single most hyped Windows version ever? Imagine that.

And would you believe it? A bunch of hardware makers were slow to release working drivers for the new operating system, even though it had been released to manufacturing eight months earlier. This snippet from the same story sounds familiar, doesn't it?

[T]he holdup is caused by the slow adoption rate of Plug and Play by add-in board, card, and other peripheral manufacturers. When hardware manufacturers are producing Plug and Play devices, the accompanying drivers often don't work correctly. And many vendors haven't bothered yet to produce drivers for legacy equipment.

And then there's the business market, which doesn't seem to be stampeding to Vista. Exactly as they didn't stampede to Windows 95 or Windows 98 or any other new version of Windows ever.

In July 1999, a year after the launch of Windows 98, Stephanie Miles and Joe Wilcox reported on CNET that the four-year-old Windows 95 was continuing to outsell the shiny new Windows 98. Here's their bold-faced lead:

Despite the hoopla and expectations that accompanied the launch of the Windows 98 operating system, research shows that its predecessor remains the popular choice.

The same story snagged these quotes from a pair of prominent analysts:


"Windows 95 didn't cease to ship just because Windows 98 was launched," said Dan Kusnetzky, an IDC analyst. "Windows 95 did the work a lot of people wanted done, so why change? There wasn't sufficient new technology that was evident from the sidelines to make people want to change."


"This is not terribly surprising," said Dwight Davis, an analyst with Summit Strategies. "Many people noted at the time that Windows 98 wasn't a stunningly different operating system, to put it kindly. There was no real major reason to shift over to Windows 98 if they were already on Windows 95."

Substitute "Windows XP" and "Windows Vista" for "Windows 95" and "Windows 98" and bump the numbers by an order of magnitude and you could recycle that story this summer, eight years later.

Of course, one could argue that the Mac OS and Linux are much stronger competitors today. For the Mac, the comparison with 1999 is certainly an improvement. But the chart on that CNET piece showed Macs with a 5% market share in 1998 and Linux with a 2.1% share. As of last month, Macs had a combined share (Intel and non-Intel designs) of 6.3% according to Net Applications, with Linux weighing in at 0.38%. No, I don't believe that Linux number either, but the best recent estimate I can find is IDC's "around 2% of market share for the past three years," with a projection of 2.8% by 2009.

Somehow, Windows 95 and its successors managed to win a few converts over the long haul, despite slow beginnings. Perhaps there's a lesson here for those who are making premature predictions about Vista.

Topic: Windows

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  • I've been saying exactly this for years...

    ... in fact I think I said it prior to Vista's launch on this very blog (or at least a ZDNet one).

    So yes - you're spot on with this story.
  • Vista won me over in about 2 minutes

    That's how long it took me to learn the new search and indexing features.
    • Uninstalled it after 2 minutes.

      I found Vista to heavily bog down my system, so I re-installed XP. Since i mostly use linux, XP only gets a rare boot-up when I want to spend a little time with certain games.
      linux for me
    • what about?

      1. the renaming in the control panel

      2. can't uninstall certain programs, I can only turn them off.

      3. uac

      4. windows explorer

      5. etc, etc, etc.

      the hardest part, as a lot of others mentioned(ballmer included) is getting people to switch from xp. I see no compelling reason to switch from xp pro to vista and I was one who beta tested vista. more secure doesn't mean much coming from msft as they say that with every os.

      when the author(ed bott) uses the word substitute, why not substitute "vista" with "me"? we heard from msft, which they later denied, that the next os (sausage. oops, vienna) will be out in a couple more years. even then, as a power user, I'll have more restrictions with what I can do.

      gnu/ choice to the neX(11)t generation.
      Arm A. Geddon
      • let's not forget costs.

        costs to upgrade hardware and software. also, in some countries(uk) the os alone is double then previous versions.

        gnu/ choice to the neX(11)t generation.
        Arm A. Geddon
        • That was true of previous generations as well

          Every upgrade cycle involves more hardware for optimum performance. So far you're just proving my point.
          Ed Bott
          • re:That was true of previous generations as well

            Thats probably only true with Microsoft Products. Every iteration of Linux i've had has got faster, especially with the GUIs
          • re: faster

            you should see how fast linux is on the test drive I used to run vista on, especially dreamlinux. I prefer the xfce desktop environment.

            gnu/ choice to the neX(11)t generation.
            Arm A. Geddon
          • re:That was true of previous generations as well

            > Every iteration of Linux i've had has got faster, especially
            > with the GUIs

            Could you point me to any benchmarks to back that up? The only objective metric I can find is minimum system requirements, which have been consistantly rising as the number of features rise, as you'd expect (e.g. Ubuntu currently requires 256MB). Of course, you get lightweight desktops like fluxbox, but if we're comparing the default, newbie-friendly windows-comparable desktops like Gnome and KDE system requirements have certianly not been descending...
          • true to a point.

            my old 450mhz from about 6 or 7 years ago could handle win98 up to xp and xp supported most of the software from the win98 days too.

            vista, well put it this way, towards the end of last year I built a new computer for testing. the old one a p4 1.6ghz wouldn't cut it obviously, as I'm one who likes to beta test software a lot. the computer I built was very similar to the one george ou used for his testing. you probably know he ended up replacing the motherboard and I'm not sure what else to solve some of those problems. me, well I won't and I hope by vista w/sp1 a lot of those problems will be gone. if not, then I guess it'll have to wait for vista w/sp2 or se whatever it will be named. in the meantime that drive will continue being a test hdd for linux. and yes, I opened up my computer and sent back reports to msft for problems that incurred in both software and hardware.

            gnu/ choice to the neX(11)t generation.
            Arm A. Geddon
    • Sounds So Mechanical

      Sound just like a person who is involved with the sales of Windows Software ... namely the 'Vista' OS.
  • Yep, spot on Ed ...

    ... I remember how Windows 95 was received. People just couldn't see the need for it. Who wants 32-bit? Long file names, pah! PnP ... what's wrong with having to configure hardware?

    Yeah, anyone who is surprised by how Vista is being received is either new to the game or has amnesia.
    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • WOW! I love MS! woot!

      Long filenames and PnP were all good. Exactly what does Vista offer? Oh yeah, draconian WGA, some windowblind interface and google desktop built in. Windows 98 had a far better network stack than 95. Is Vista's network stack that much better than XP? I doubt it.

      Anyone who thinks Vista offers them anything other than XP SP3 and is willing to shell out for a new shell has far more than amnesia.
      • WOW! I'm ignorant! Woot!

        [i]"Exactly what does Vista offer?"[/i]

        A heck of lot more than you listed.
        • It's all subjective...

          [i]"Exactly what does Vista offer?"[/i]

          is the wrong question. What should be asked is

          [i]""Exactly what does Vista offer [b]me[/b]?"[/i]

          In my case, not a great deal. The security features are moot if you know what you are doing with XP, the search facility (IMHO) is a waste of CPU cycles and HD life and the eye candy is not required (I still use Windows Classic on XP).

          Windows Vista does have its plus points, but these are not for everyone. It is still about choice at the end of the day (which kind of makes these arguments on ZDNet a complete waste of time).

          As often gets quoted around here:
      • Re: WOW! I love MS! woot!

        > Is Vista's network stack that much better than XP? I doubt it.

        Ironic you should mention the networking stack: it has actually been completely rewritten in Vista, and now natively supports IPv6, wireless networks in the stack itself (rather than having them emulating a wired network), network profiles, QoS, native DH & AES encryption, inbuilt filtering engine, etc. etc. See .
      • What about IPv6

        Besides support for IPv6, what exactly are you looking for in a network stack? What are you lacking in XP that you want to see in Vista?
      • Well Said

        I see nothing in Vista that is going to make me install it on my computers. Why should I go through all of the headaches? I'm running XP, it works well, and I can do anything I want with it. My brother bought a new computer which has Vista installed as the OS and he absolutely hates Vista. As far as I can tell, Vista is simply a bloated OS with more usueless features than useful ones. It tries to be something for everybody and fails miserably. But to quote Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack..."If you like it though..."
      • Well Said

        I see nothing in Vista that is going to make me install it on my computers. Why should I go through all of the headaches? I'm running XP, it works well, and I can do anything I want with it.
    • what if this time it does sell fewer?

      seems office 2007 is getting a great reception by reviewers, testers and sales. maybe joe and jane public are a little more smarter these days?

      gnu/ choice to the neX(11)t generation.
      Arm A. Geddon