Whatever Dell's Kevin Kettler is on (re: Vista), please pass some to me

Whatever Dell's Kevin Kettler is on (re: Vista), please pass some to me

Summary: Either our sister site's Sylvia Carr (over at Silicon.com) heard it wrong, or Dell CTO Kevin Kettler has had a momentary lapse of reason.

TOPICS: Windows

Either our sister site's Sylvia Carr (over at Silicon.com) heard it wrong, or Dell CTO Kevin Kettler has had a momentary lapse of reason.  Wrote Carr:

Businesses will upgrade to Microsoft's Vista in droves as consumers bring their love of the next-generation operating system from home to work, a Dell executive says.

The company's chief technology officer, Kevin Kettler, on Monday said he's "bullish" about Vista uptake in among enterprise customers. "This will be an important transition for Microsoft as well as for Dell," he told CNET News.com sister site Silicon.com.

Vista will offer major improvements on Windows that both businesses and consumers will want to take advantage of, which is why Dell is preparing for a "more aggressive than usual" uptick in hardware sales, as people upgrade, another Dell executive said.

Apparently, these executives have forgotten how the supposedly revolutionary Windows XP took about four years before more than 50 percent of global Windows users worldwide were on it. Not to mention how businesses are loathe to make the move until after the first service pack -- the one that corrects the first highly publicized wave of nightmares -- is released. Also bear in mind that  back in Fall 2001 when XP hit the mainstream, the blogosphere that now gives every Tom, Dick and systems administrator a voice was practically non-existent. The rules and the grapevine are different now. Carr's story continues:

One Vista feature that will win over enterprises is the ability to run different versions of the operating system depending on the hardware, Kettler said. For instance, a company could install a basic, less resource-intensive version to older hardware and a high-performance version with to newer hardware.

This of course assumes that the new (but scaled back version of Vista) solves a problem that the existing installations of XP (or even Windows 2000 in some cases) doesn't. Many of the corporate desktop administrators I've spoken to over the years have their "clients" systems so dialed-in and locked down that their only headache has been all the security updates (and so far, I know of know one outside of Microsoft that's confident that Vista will put an end to that).

I've got another more comprehensive blog post coming on the issue of what it will take for businesses to move to Vista (based on my interview of a Microsoft's Windows Client Business Group general manager Brad Goldberg), but my overall sense is that Kettler is off the mark on this. Although there's probably no way to count, my bet is that most of XP's penetration to date has been through the purchases of new systems that had XP pre-installed on them. That was, in fact, how I ended up with a production version of XP here at CNET Networks. Had my Windows 2000 system not experienced the catastrophic, non-software related failures that it did, it probably would have been another two years before I ended up with XP. 

Today, the challenge to system manufacturers like Dell and Gateway is that the market is saturated with overpowered systems that for most knowledge workers and consumers, have enough idle time to power a grid that's 10 times the size of the one currently powering the SETI@Home project (that's a wild guess folks... not a fact... but I think it's a good guess). In other words, many buyers might not be in such a hurry to acquire a new system anytime soon. Perhaps working in favor of system manufacturers are the increasing number of users that rely on notebook computers for most of their computing. Notebooks don't last as long as their desktop counterparts, thereby requiring more frequent replacement. Even so, I'm not so sure that any replacements coming to corporate America in the next year (pre-Vista Service Pack 1) will get Vista on them.

So, when I read these predictions, I like to think back to the days before XP shipped (when similar anticipation reigned supreme), and after.  For example, almost one year after Windows XP originally shipped, Joe Wilcox (then of News.com) wrote:

At the same time, Windows 2000, the previous-generation OS from Microsoft, still reigns supreme among business customers, say PC makers. Market researcher Gartner estimates that computers with Windows 2000 will account for 41 percent of new PCs sold to businesses this year, compared with about 16 percent with Windows XP. In August, Microsoft issued Service Pack 3 for Windows 2000.

In mid-2000, ahead of XP's launch, Wilcox wrote:

Allchin said the company will spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Windows XP, and he predicted a big PC sales boost for the fourth quarter. "We're going to blow out the holiday season. It's going to be incredibly exciting," he said. "The holiday season is going to be great for the PC industry."

In fact, searching the Web for stories about XP's adoption (including adoption of the service packs) reveals tons of stories like that tell the story of hope when a new operating system ships, along with some recognition of the reality reflected in the BBC's PC Makers hope for XP boost (circa 2001) from, you guessed it, an executive at Dell:

Simon Calver at Dell UK, in charge of sales to home users and small businesses, says that if consumers are happy with their system there is no reason to upgrade. "There is no dramatic change with this software. But if people begin to use more digital pictures or want to process digital video, they may want to consider buying XP and get a new computer," he told BBC News Online. Windows XP packaging line, AP Steve Ballmer admits that companies have little reason to upgrade from Windows 2000 to Windows XP For businesses, it is not much different. "We don't want our customers to buy systems they don't need," says Mr. Calver, who explains that firms should consider XP if they want improved connectivity for their mobile workforce or plan to offer specialised services like advanced online customer support.

Not to rain on Vista's parade (it has tons of interesting features), but there are just certain market dynamics that will be in play once it ships. So, whatever happy juice Kettler is getting from Dell's company coolers, pass some along to me.

Topic: Windows

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  • The SP1 myth

    " Not to mention how businesses are loathe to make the move until after the first service pack ? the one that corrects the first highly publicized wave of nightmares ? is released"

    Service packs often add new features along with a roll up of all the past patches. That doesn't mean you have to wait till SP1 to get the patches, you've been getting them monthly in the form of Windows Update.

    I don't doubt your assessment that it will take some time for businesses to change to Vista, but I do not agree that you have to wait till SP1 for any OS. I've never waited and I've never regretted it.
    • You just keep making an arse out of yourself.

      Service packs often cause major problems for corporations, such as SP2 for Windows. So, many wait for at least the first service pack to avoid at least one round of hassles, and also to wait for the most important security and bug fixes that would have typically been released by then.

      And, you last sentence is really pretty funny. You may never have waited for service pack 1, but you are not a corporation with hundreds of users and compatibility issues to deal with.

      You are Dan Quayles brother!
    • I have to agree with George on this one ...

      ... the SP1 myth is just that. The enterprise (as opposed to small business) makes it's decisions much more rationally than that. One doesn't need to wait for SP1 but one certainyl does need to make sure that all of your mission critical applictions run under Vista before taking the plunge.

      That said, I think David is right that the adoption rate for Vista will not be dramaitcally different than the adoption rate for Windwos XP.

      The one MAJOR difference is that Windows XP was release just a year after the DOT-COM bubble burst. Today, the DOW is in record territory once again. This means that consmers and businesses alike will be quicker to buy new hardware and if Vista is pre-installed, many will not bother to downgrade.
      M Wagner
    • Is it possible...

      ....that we have ascertained LD's true identity? Sounds like him, for sure.
  • Unless they've been waiting for Vista...

    I have to agree with this article -- home users won't be upgrading to Vista in droves, and businesses are even less likely to do so. The exception would be any who have been holding off on upgrades so they can buy new hardware with Vista preinstalled. That's likely a small population of home users, and an even smaller population of businesses, but that's where the initial burst of sales will come from.

    I might be one of them, for my home PC. But my work PC probably won't see Vista for quite some time.
    • Unlesse they've been waiting...

      eborah, I totally agree with Mr. Berlind as well. I currently run XP Pro on my PC & XP Media Center on my Dell E1505. I am not planning to upgrade to Vista anytime soon, period.
  • It is just that Dell wants to keep getting the biggest discounts on MS OSes

    and try to make up a little for the fact that they are selling Linux. They also like the fact that Vista wastes a lot of hardware resources and will require customers to buy premium hardware. So, Dell has nothing to lose here by talking up Vista for Microsoft.
    • No news here, DB...

      that's the essence of the whole Wintel complex. Faster hardware allows bigger apps, require faster hardware...
  • Marketing position

    This is simply posturing on Dell's part. Kevin, as a mouth piece for his company, is attempting (ultimately in vein I believe) to prime the customer base in hopes that Vista will cajole the enterprise into early adoption. It's going to require a hell of a lot more than over ambitious statements from Dell's CTO to get corporate customers, or even consumers for that matter, to rush and buy Vista upon release.

    My personal opinion is that Vista will launch not to the sound of Rolling Stones playing in the background as did Win95, but to the sound of crickets chirping. At least we'll finally know the answer to that age old question...what happens when you throw a party and nobody shows up; VISTA!
    Elitist Snob
  • David is right on on this issue

    Think about the changes that have taken place since XP first shipped. Most of us are using notebooks now, Linux and Mac have really come a long long way to being useful to old Microsoft home and business customers, and most of us use the computer differently than we used to. Most of the activity is on the web and there is a very serious trend and movement afoot to develop web apps that could turn your computer into a thin client if you want to avoid Vista altogether--not there yet, but coming.

    No, it is a really different world now. My plans are to buy a Mac with Parallels running a Linux distro and XP (to run my CAD software). Vista? I don't really need it or the headache right now.

    George, BTW, the worst mistake I ever made was installing Windows 2000 Pro the moment it was released. I think I ended up reinstalling that system crasher at least a dozen times in two years.
  • A little more than an OS

    Vista is a little more than on OS. It looks to me like they've added workflow to the OS. It looks like the nested state stuff is proprietary to Vista and appears that is requires the OS on both ends - the system launching and the system(s) participating.

    Will workflow drive adoption in the corporate world due to workflow? In a web based world, will it also drive it to the consumer OS?

    It looks like they've also added authentication to the desktop and the server and then need to work together. Will this also drive adoption?

    Active Directory looks like it is being embedded into the OS. Will that drive adoption?

    There's a little more to the story. Kevin just might be right... If I'm wrong about this stuff, please pipe in.
  • Certain Failure

    Vista is doomed to certain failure, for a certain reason. NOBODY ASKED FOR IT, NOBODY WANTS IT. Oh, I know some of the cheerleaders are jumping with joy and Microsoft is bluffing their butts off, but I have not seen or talked to ANYBODY ANYWHERE that was remotely interested in another Windows (except for the forementioned cheerleaders). What they DO want is to stop the SPYWARE which is exactly what Microsoft is adding to Windows.
    I will be jumped on with all four feet by the cheerleaders (I know, I know, i'm a Linux fanboy), but I use XP Pro and really like it, UNTIL Microsoft started forcing me to jump thru hoops for an hour to reactivate it after a reinstall. This has nothing to do with Linux. It's about Microsoft.
    When they came out with WGA that was the straw that broke not only my camel's back, but my wife's, my dog's, my cat's, and all my family's, friend's, and customer's backs. That amounts to spyware AND trojans. And Vista will be even worse. No thank you!
    Ole Man

    VISTA - Virus, Instability, Spyware, Trojans, Adware?

    Even if it is NOT the above, it sure is packed with DRM and the cheat that we technical innovators will only be able to change hardware three times, before we have to PURCHA$E another license!

    VISTA is DEFINITELY not 'GREEN'! It mandates that new hardware be used, no chance to re-use old hardware to save our water shed from 300 million computers dumped there, each year!

    Linux runs on anything, at upto 50X faster!
    It is desktop able, presents upto 20 desks, on multi-processors, and is 64 bit, WITH the 64bit applications, since 1993!!! http://livecdlist.com

    And, you can have it for FREE!!! With 132,230 FREE Applications! http://sourceforge.net

    Why the hell would I pay the purported $700 for a bloated, 1.5 Giga byte VISTA, plus crash prone M$ Office??

    Linux gives me true 64 bit computing, and I can see that the media (ZDNet, ZD printed products, TechRepublic), is "on the payroll" of the monopolist multi-convicted felon, Microsoft!!! And, their 'partners', like Dell.

    Open Office is mature, fully featured, Internationally CERTIFIED as the STANDARD to meet, and, is FREE to download!!!

    All the FREE, Open Source Software not proferred here, is just more proof of the media bias, for payola, by the convicted pirates!

    Try a light sampling of true freedom of choice, http://pclinuxos.com
  • ... a momentary lapse of reason.

    Poor Mr. Kettler. It may be the overwork or simply the grueling task of wrestling with H-P/Compaq. Either way your comment on Dell CTO Kevin Kettler's possible momentary lapse of reason is right on.

    The ONLY reason that XP is in my house is that the power supply in my NT computer died suddenly and catistrophically. The replacement had XP Home on it. And when I registered XP with Microsoft, I started getting 100+ spam emails per day into my Yahoo! account; an account that had never seen a spam mail in the YEARS preceding the XP registration. Thank you Microsoft. NOT! And that computer has run slower and slower with each passing security update.

    When my Windows 2000-based computer died -- the add-in USB board blew up scattering debris all over the inside (taking out the serial port and damaging the IDE controller and eventually killing the motherboard altogether) -- the replacement had XP Media Edition. Upon registering that system the spam into my account jumped to 500+ per day. Thank God the Yahoo! spam filter is working really well these days. No thanks to the Microsoft marketing department of course.

    Fortunately, using FireFox, Thunderbird, and Norton Antivirus keeps the ActiveX bugs and popups at bay. I've only had to open IE once in the past 6 months to use one recalcitrant web site (and was immediately attacked by a virus and a dozen popups).

    And just for those who think it is just me ... when we moved from Win95 to WinXP at work, we had to install Norton Antivirus Enterprise for the bug attacks; and eventually had to contract with a third party to filter the spam because it jumped from virtually zero to thousands per day! Did I mention that before the change we used Netscape exclusively but after the changeover to XP we were forced to use IE exclusively because Microsoft Server refused to validate our corporate logins through Netscape.

    I can only imagine the nightmare that Vista will be. I say, "Good luck!" to the early adopters. Hope your backup procedures are up to the task! ;-)