Microsoft walks the Vista-projection tightrope

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.

TOPICS: Windows

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.

Topic: Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Nice but short analysis

    You never mentioned that many Win XP users are still wondering why they might want or need to upgrade.

    Also, while large corporate customers may upgrade up to one third of their desktop base every yrear, they rarely include a new OS until its gone through their test labs and there is a compelling reason to change. Installing a third of new desktops with Vista and Office 2007 will be a major administration problem that most corp.s will certainly avoid.

    Now it's time for the usual NBM flames to "flame on."
    • Very True!

      "You never mentioned that many Win XP users are still wondering why they might want or need to upgrade."

      Very true. Vista is not worth upgrading to and is certainly not worth buying a new pc for. It's a few tweaks and some eye-candy. What the heck were they doing for the last five years?
  • Vista is just eye candy?

    XP in bright gay looking clothes doing back-flips = Vista.
    Reverend MacFellow
    • Correction...

      XP in bright childish looking clothes doing cartwheels = Vista.

      Vista isn't good enough to be called gay or to be doing back-flips ;-)
      • Let me guess

        Mac Boy or Linux Geek?
        • How about OS/2!

          It rocks!
          • or maybe

            sinks like a rock?
            John Zern
    • Mac

      Mac is Trendy, flared jeans, afro hair 70's tripped-out.
      Just wait till you come back to the real world dude...
      • RE: Mac is Trendy

        Actually, the right Mac is much more than that. I have a
        PPC based Mac and I can run OS X or even some of the
        Linux distros if I want. And before you start saying
        fanboy, I also have a PC here with Windows and Linux on
        it. Windows is my last choice when I really want to get
        work done.

        I will not be upgrading to Vista for two reasons. First, it
        won't make windows any more productive. Second, it
        costs too much for what you get. I can see it on a new
        machine, but if your XP setup is working fine there is no
        need to upgrade. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. :-)
        • I won't upgrade to Vista, either!

          I use whatever OS come with the new box. I'm still running Win2000 Pro on an old P3 1 GHz 9 - That's what it came with! I have 2 laptops with WinXP Pro, all talking to a P4 2 GHz running SUSE. The only time I have done anything with an operating system was to install SUSE onto the box I decided to be my server. That was to see what Linux could do. Seems OK to me.

          I DON'T upgrade Windows, I simply use what is on the box when I purchase them (Oh - I did request WinXP Pro rather than XP Home).
          I am Gorby
  • Tell Me Mary-Jo

    Why do Microsoft put up with you...
    • How pathetic are you?

      Microsoft 'put up with'? So now MS has to power to control world-wide opinion and expression of thought? They (and you apparently) wish!
  • Conflict of Interest

    I'm sorry but the unblinking eye on Microsoft does not get to be the arbiter of
    what is or isn't a conflict of interest. Criticism of Microsoft or it's broad sales push
    must happen within the context of technology as a whole. That's not what's
    happening with either your or Ed's columns. Both contribution sit within a
    Microsoft-centric vaccume that goes out of it's way to produce fake criticism to
    establish street cred. The comparisons are inevitably between Microsoft and
    Microsoft. They take pain to avoid the mention of alternatives. The separation
    between the church and state of sales and editorial is moot if editorial does more
    to sell and endorse a single vendor's solutions. Contributors continue to compete
    with one another to become the most "objective" Microsoft sales person.
    Meanwhile users are defecting. You folks are profoundly out of touch. Hardly a
    glowing tribute to journalism. Do you really expect "code word a day" to wash?
    This market is cycling. Competitors to Microsoft are shipping silicon and machine
    code. After years of waiting for Vista, Microsoft is still shipping code words,
    coupons and platitudes. An endless number of mouthpieces stand ready to deliver
    Harry Bardal
    • Well, they certainly

      Possess a wider and more even handed viewpoint then your antiMicrosoft-centric, head stuck in the sand, holding your breath because 90% of the world didn?t choose your favorite option vacuum you live in.

      Users are defecting? Even those that don?t like MS stay with MS

      Sorry, when push comes to shove, real people and real businesses need to choose the best solution

      Mouthpieces like yourself need to get out in the real world, and try to actually contribute to something more then your self importance.
    • I'm am allways amazed

      how many words it takes you to say nothing at all.

      Granted, you do a nice job of piecing together catch phrases and gobblely goop in an attempt to confuse the reader that you truly have something noteworthy to say.

      But in the end it's still just a page full of nonsense...
      John Zern
      • Same Goes For You

        I doubt you have any credibility at home or on your job, which is why you waste your time in here.

        Pathetic, don't you think?
    • Vacuum

      A lot of folks have problems with that spelling. The new format has added spell checking of a sort too.
    • And yet here you are!

      You seem to neglect the fact that ZDnet also has bloggers dedicated to Apple and Unix, (O'Grady and Murph). There is nothing wrong with the bloggers in question sticking to what they know. If you do not share their views then don't read them and better yet don't post on their blogs. What purpose do you serve? Your own protestations of the one sidedness of their blogs is itself one sided and getting quite old as witnessed by the replies to you.
  • Microsoft walks the Vista-projection tightrope

    If MS really wanted to balance the needs of consumers & businesses, they would have released XP SP3 prior to or at the same time as Vista.

    MS invested too much time & effort in Vista to see it fail, hence the delay. They are trying to push the product down everyones throat even though there are questions remaining regarding it's reliability & inter-operability.

    As I have stated in numerous blogs, the only time I'll see Vista is when I would need to purchase a pc with Vista SP1 already pre-installed.
    • My Question

      Of course I'll use Vista. Of course it will because my employer requires it. If XP is
      any guide, I'll buy a license for "personal" use (but really to do stuff for work at
      home) in 2009/2010. I take "I, Cringely"'s point that Vista will be adopted,
      because a lot of people will be in a position where they will be acquiring a
      machine that will be only available configured with Vista.

      But my real question is, if Microsoft moves back to a three year os release cycle
      will there be enoiugh time to put Vista in the black, or will Vista's successor also
      have to wait for five years before its release. Perhaps the uptake in 2007 will
      provide the facts for writing the road map for Vista's successor. Perhaps Vista is
      the last aircraft carrier operating system release from Microsoft and future
      upgrades will consist of smaller scoped modules that address specific functioning,
      such as media tasks.