Vista fiasco continues with retreat to XP

Vista fiasco continues with retreat to XP

Summary: Fall back! Fall back! Microsoft's announcement yesterday of the "Extended Availability of Windows XP Home for ULCPCs" is more evidence that the Windows Vista fiasco is still growing.


Fall back! Fall back! Microsoft's announcement yesterday of the "Extended Availability of Windows XP Home for ULCPCs" is more evidence that the Windows Vista fiasco is still growing.

Microsoft is scrambling to stay relevant in a world where they are no longer the only game in town. Can't let Linux become the default OS for low-cost systems, can we?

Why doesn't software get cheaper? My 1978 Apple II cost over $3,000 in today's dollars - with no disk or display - and a primitive command line OS. Today a vastly more powerful machine like the Eee is less than $400 - with a display and an incredibly capacious 4 GB flash drive. Other machines coming soon will be much cheaper. $200 is the magic number for broad consumer acceptance.

Microsoft has lived in a monopoly pricing bubble, selling Windows to OEMs for $50 a copy, while hardware - driven by Moore's Law - has plummeted in price. That couldn't last forever. It's crunch time for Redmond.

Redmond's nightmare now in the light of day Microsoft's announcement created a new market segment - the Ultra Low Cost PC - that it hopes will protect its Vista margins from the low-end Linux attack. Like that could work.

Today's mid-range Vista PC is tomorrow's ULCPC. The reasons vendors and customers balk at Microsoft's $50 Vista tax today won't change. Consumers will pay $50 on a $600 machine. But $50 on a $200 machine? No way.

People are realizing that for much of what they do - web surfing, email, online video - can be handled by much smaller and cheaper systems. As Linux continue to refine the GUI and simplify its distros, the Windows advantage continues to fade.

The Storage Bits take First time users who learn Linux will have no reason to ever pay for Windows. Just as I deciphered the Apple II's CLI 30 years ago, today's eager, but poor, first timers will figure Linux out.

Microsoft's Vista is a slow-motion disaster. Bloated and inflexible, expensive and late, Vista is a continuing drag on Microsoft's business flexibility.

But this isn't all Jim Allchin's fault. If Steve Ballmer were as smart as he thinks he is he'd have seen the ULCPC segment emerging and positioned to company to dominate it. Instead they're playing catchup with a 7 year old product.

Steve, resign. If you can't do that, at least stop obsessing over Google. Focus Microsoft on building great software. That is a game you can win.

Comments welcome, of course. BTW, there's an opening at Microsoft for an ULCPC Business Development Manager. Just make sure you aren't measured on margins. That could be brutal.

Topics: Software, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Vista is what squeezed me out

    of the MS flock. I was an avid supporter and advocate for MS right up to XP. I reluctantly went to XP Pro. Then along came WGA and false positives and Redmond telling me I needed to replace an OEM XP Pro license with a Full Package Product (FPP) license at well over $250. I went to ubuntu and never looked back. Now all my circa 2004 laptops run Linux.

    I dropped out of the MS Partner program as well. No use partnering with a company with no value proposition. I did buy that XP Pro FPP as well as an Office 2003 Standard FPP. These will be used to provide a valid license for a virtual machine running the Windows apps I still can't shed but I sense that the tide is changing in that regard.

    However, I just could not justify the cost of a new computer just run Vista with no discernible advantage over XP Pro. It's a shame that MS was to arrogant and short sighted to see that their market was turning South with the ever decreasing cost of hardware and alternative to Windows as well as focusing too much on dominating phone, game and set top box markets.

    Well maybe MinWin will save their bacon. But I doubt that it will be soon enough or compelling enough to pull that much bacon out of the very fire that they made.
    • I'm hoping more App's...

      will be ported to Linux so I can do away with more Windows machines. After 14 years with Windows, it is clear MS no longer care about the user and what he needs.
      • more Apps?

        One word. Wine
        • Better Word . . .


          If they port it to Linux, MS is doomed. It's the ONLY reason my church bought a Vista machine. Everything else they do can be done via Open Office . . .
          • Program equivalents

            Proposed programs in Linux to replace task accomplished with Quicken:
            1) GNUcash.
            2) GnoFin.
            3) Kmymoney.
            4) Grisbi.
            5) Moneydance. [Prop]

            Almost any program you can think of has alternatives in Linux.
            (as seen in the following tables)

            Granted, some of them are less than stellar in their emulation of Windows equivalents, but they keep improving all the time.

            My holdback at work? Fakking Autodesk
            Once I am able to replace that, my office is going Linux only.
          • Jettison M$ : : Many Linux alternatives are even better

            and free

            and virus free

            and continually upgraded by hundreds of thousands of programmers
            Web Smart
        • The last time I checked...

          Wine worked well with some applications, a bit iffy with a lot of others and not at all with a lot of others. What ties me to Windows at home is a circuit board layout program and drafting. In both cases, I need to save in the native format that we use at work since translation just does not work very well. Even if these worked with Wine, the performance penalty caused by an interpreter running between the application and the hardware would in all probability be unacceptable.
          • WINE Is Not an Emulator

            There IS no performance hit with Wine, it's not an interpreter, it should work at the same speed.

            The 'interpreter' [API] is only the same as the 'interpreter' that Windows uses; the way it runs programs is exactly the same.

            Try your program, you could be suprised.
    • Tide Turning on that Front??

      Office 2007 licenses have sold extremely well and now we find out Sharepoint has sold over 100 million copies!! People can't get enough of the MOSS enterprise. <br><br>
      I mean MS is not going to carry 97% of anything anymore, nobody could carry top brand as long as they have in the first place, but they are extremely, maybe 20 years from becoming anything but very revelent. Don't fool yourself. <br><br>
      As for Vista, i appreciate your ethics and you pay for music players and the like or will you only take free across all product lines? Or is it just Microsof that you feel should do things your way? <br><br>
      Can you buy and Apple with Tiger still? Well?
      • I thought that Office2007 had sold 100 million

        Sharepoint is really disappointing. I was expecting so much after reading the whitepapers and absorbing the hype.
        • How would you know?

          You've never seen or used it.
          Quit telling lies and go someplace where someone might be able to engage you on your level.

          Like Sesame Place.
          John Zern
          • that's the first puerile rant i've seen for a while

            Yes I have seen it and used it.
            I think you've demonstrated your level. No arguments, just name calling,
    • Ditto

      Have been MSFT biggot since 1990, but with a couple of older laptops, two new hand built systems, I wasn't about to pay to upgrade to the bloated Vista. It came on our son's very hot laptop that has 4GB of ram and it's a dog.

      I ran Linux back in the late 90's just to poke around with it. But this situation caused me to check into it again, and now I am running 100% Ubuntu with our son's laptop also running SUSE in a triple boot of Ubuntu/SUSE/Vista. He logs into Vista less than once per month.

      Oh, and I carry an EEPC for work running Linux instead of Win XP.

      Vista is a dead duck. QUACK!

      Am running OpenOffice, Firefox, etc etc, there isn't a single MSFT app that I need to run today with the exception of MSFT Money which I run under WINE.

      MSFT has lost the home market, they just don't know it yet.
      Joop deBruin
      • Agree - Somewhat

        I have also moved toward using free apps where ever I can, OpenOffice, Firefox etc. I have found in most cases when I give myself adequate time to really get familiar with some of the better free applications like OpenOffice I like them better than the proprietary ones. The thing that keeps me on a windows platform are the applications from small companies that don't have the resources to offer their apps on multiple platforms. Having said that, there is nothing in Vista that seems compelling over staying on XP. Vista seems like a solution in search of a problem.
        • Solution in search of a problem?

          The problem that Vista is the solution for is obvious: MSFT can't make enough money to sustain itself selling only OSs for new machines. So they need to "improve" Windows, compelling everyone to upgrade existing machines, and generating billions.

          It's just, apparently, a terrible solution.
      • Keeerect, dude--er, maybe

        in biz, it's MS. couldn't run my operations without it. i use win2000. duh, no one is forcing me to abandon that in my office of about 100 people. i've skipped xt, by the way.

        at home, i play with vista and love it. i'll skip that in biz too. so what? win 7? maybe i'll add that? who knows. but the line i draw in the sand is NO APPLES.

        people just don't get it. MS gives me functionality when i need it. and i make money--much more than linux or apple could get me. on top of it, the PC itself gives me all sorts of options to toy with.

        don't like vista, don't use it.
    • Vista compatibility with XP

      So far I can't find a way to transfer my Outlook Express 6 email to VISTA Windows Mail. Another rediculous incompatibility that must affect millions of users. Anybody got any clues on how to do this? Is there back up software out there that can handle this daunting task?

      • Tfr XP Mail To Vista

        Get a Belkin USB to USB transfer cable and software for about $40 from Staples, Office Max, etc. It will transfer all your mail, contacts, all data file, music file, photo files, etc. The systems don't even have to be in a network.

        Install the cable, then the software on your XP system. Vista will pop up its part of file transfer automatically.

        Hope this helps,

      • Outlook Expresss 6 to Vista Windows Mail

        Open Windows Mail, press the F1 key on your keyboard, search for "import from Outlook Express" (without the quotes). The first response gives complete details.

        One wonders why the programmers even bother to have the Help Function --- seems no one knows how to use it. Or is it just an excuse to vent and look stupid.
      • Can get OE emails into Windows Mail

        2 ways.
        In the old versions of OE all you had to do was create an email account. This created the inbox, sent etc- files. Then all you do is copy the current ones over the top of these and it's done.

        Can't remember if this worked for me with Windows Mail.

        The other way is to go File, Import and point WIndows mail at the old files and it will pull them into the current.

        The address book could not be copied and must be imported.

        To find the files in XP you must be able to see hidden files and folders. Turn this on buy going into my computer, click Tools, Folder Options, View and select "Show Hidden Files and Folders"

        In Windows XP the files were located in: C:\documents and settings\User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\Big long numbers\Microsoft\Outlook Express\

        If you have more than one "Big long numbers" then check the file dates and sizes for the current files.

        The Addres book was located in: C:\documents and settings\User Name\Application data\Microsoft\Address Book

        The emails are store in Vista in: C:\Users\User Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail

        Hope this is of help. Please let me know at jeff at qce dot co dot nz

        Good luck.