Vista take-up hits bumpy patch

So, it seems the WOW -- for Microsoft's Windows Vista -- is not now, but sometime in the future, maybe.

So, it seems the WOW -- for Microsoft's Windows Vista -- is not now, but sometime in the future, maybe.

In what might not come as a shock to many, industry analysts Forrester said that Windows Vista take-up has been slower than expected.

This might explain the software maker's coyness in divulging Windows Vista sales figures to financial analysts last month. At the time, chief operating office Kevin Turner claimed 60 million units had been sold.

When approached Microsoft confirmed figures of 40 million, but claimed the figure was two months old.

If you do the maths that means 20 million copies of Vista have been sold, on a wholesale basis at least, over the last two months and 40 million since the operating system was made available to consumers in January.

To be fair the figures relate to wholesale units sold, however, Microsoft remains eternally optimistic about Windows Vista being its best operating system yet.

The software maker predicted last year (around the time of the official business launch) that twice as many businesses would deploy the new operating system in the first year as those that rolled out Windows XP in the year following its October 2001 release.

However, this optimism is not shared by the market, if Forrester's figures are a true reflection of what IT managers are thinking.

According to Forrester, IT managers are u-turning on initial Vista deployment plans due to application compatibility woes and lack of clarity around the date of Service Pack 1.

These concerns (among others) were voiced from the very date that Microsoft released its latest OS to businesses in November last year.

For example, this from November 9, 2006: A majority of chief information officers and administrators of Australian companies polled by ZDNet Australia are in no rush to roll out Microsoft Vista because the operating system requires too much processing power and doesn't provide a compelling business case to upgrade. Those who said they will eventually deploy Vista will wait until their hardware requires a refresh and Microsoft has released at least one service pack (for Vista).

Also, NSW DET Information Services Director, Tim Anderson, said in April that he doesn't see any compelling reason to fully deploy Vista now. He believes that Windows XP is a good platform and is happy with the performance and security aspects. Anderson said NSW DET will continue to standardise on Windows XP for the remainder of 2007.

Another thorn for the software maker is the cost of re-training staff on the new version of Windows -- which could lead businesses to switch to Linux or at the very least hold off on Vista deployments.

Jonathan Oxer, president of Linux Australia, said in January Windows migration will cause disruption in the workplace. He believes a move to Linux is just as much disruption, pointing out that a lot of companies will now consider the switch to a Linux platform when they do their next hardware refresh.

It could be argued this view is biased, but it is one that DET's Anderson shares. "One of the big costs the DET always faces when changing platform is retraining -- because we have 1.2 million users." Anderson added DET is considering increasing the number of its Linux-based desktops.

So what does this mean for Microsoft -- apart from some embarrassment (perhaps) for the person/s in the company who approved the unforgettable slogan: the WOW is Now?

In all reality, not much. Sure it's a strategic blow for the software giant, but the truth is Microsoft operating systems dominate the desktop. And most businesses will -- in all likelihood -- migrate to Windows Vista.

However, there is a window of opportunity for Microsoft's competitors -- Apple, Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu -- to push their case and pick up some market share off the giant.

This is not as "pie in the sky" as it sounds with Dell and now Lenovo, for example, committing to pre-installing Linux on select desktops and laptops combined with training costs, and an erosion of Microsoft's share of the marketplace is a distinct possibility.

What do you think? Is Microsoft ripe for the picking? Is your organisation considering deploying desktop Linux? Is Microsoft's period of dominance coming to an end?