No rush to Vista

Microsoft has been anxious to move the world to its new operating system, Vista. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the world has been less than keen to do its bidding. Many machines with …

1st October 2007 at 8:05 am

Microsoft has been anxious to move the world to its new operating system, Vista. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the world has been less than keen to do its bidding. Many machines with Vista pre-installed can be downgraded back to Windows XP. And customers are taking advantage of this. Also, retail sales of Vista have proved disappointing. Last Thursday, Microsoft bowed to the inevitable and granted a stay of execution to XP.

Part of the problem is that XP just works and Vista doesn’t offer enough relevant new functionality to make it worth the pain of switching. You need a more powerful computer in order to extract similar performance.

If car makers were to adopt this approach, they’d go out of business. Imagine buying a car loaded up with all sorts of interesting, but not strictly required, extra features which added significantly to the car’s weight. You’d be forced to pay more for a bigger engine, better brakes and more fuel. Erm, cough, no thanks.

Microsoft had originally intended to remove XP from its price list at the end of January next year. Now it says it has extended the date to the end of June. And, for the emerging market sawn-off version (not generally available), until the end of June 2010.

Unless you have a burning need for Vista right now, you might prefer to wait until the dust settles. But, if you do decide to take the plunge, beware: Vista comes in five official flavours, ignoring the emerging market’s Starter Edition.

The Microsoft website contains a chart of the publicly available options. Or you may prefer to read an independent perspective such as the one on the ExtremeTech site. (Don’t worry, it’s in more or less plain English.)

When looking at the chart, my instinct is to either avoid the decision or go for the all-embracing version. Perhaps Microsoft hoped for the latter reaction from small businesses but got the former.


David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World.

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  1. Mara Alexander says:

    Many machines with Vista pre-installed can be downgraded back to Windows XP.

    Other than paying for a retail version of XP (which not so surprisingly, retails for more than Vista..what does that say), is there another way?

    I just bought a new PC a week ago, and while I love the machine itself, Vista is like a cross between ME and a Jewish mother-in-law.

  2. […] Then I thought it might be a Microsoft promotional campaign, accepting that many people are still choosing XP over Vista on new […]

  3. One reason I am moving onto a Mac. Not only is the hardware faster and more stable. When new Operating systems come out for it, the hardware is not rendered obsolete as quickly as it is with a PC.

    Also I can enable the Mac to dual boot, so I can run XP on it as well if I am desperate for a bit of pain 😉

  4. Craig says:

    But it looks so pretty…

    Seriously, I wish I had a business model where I could force people to upgrade to my new version and let them test it for me. Then, just when it’s running nicely and everything seems to work, I bring out the next version for testing.

    I agree with the car analogy…more technology isn’t always the answer.

  5. Alan Bold says:

    I dont agree with the point above re Macs as Apple have always been very quick at introducing new products that make older hardware obsolete, in fact Microsoft has always made operating systems backward compatible until Vista. The one good new feature of Vista is that it is much more secure and actually the problems with moving to Vista are to do with other software/hardware makers software drivers not being up to scratch so best check that software & hardware you are going to use on your new Vista pc have Vista drivers and no problems. My advice is if your buying a new pc then get it with Vista, dont upgrade an older XP pc to Vista but the Mac fan above is right, get a mac and run both mac OS X and XP on it if you really need PC software for your business.

  6. They sort of shot themselves in the foot by saying that Vienna would be out in a few years shortly after Vista was released. Makes you think it will be like Win ME. Operating systems aren’t exactly that exciting for people to buy anyway and not many people are going to be bothered spending nearly £200 on something if they already have one that works. I was going to upgrade my old desktop that had Win 98 on but in the end decided to try Ubuntu instead as it was free. I’m glad I did. I can now get free open source programs that are the equal of Windows ones. I did end up buying a new laptop for work that had Vista on and not really seen much that’s that impressive. It looks nicer than my laptop with XP on but that’s mainly due to the screen being CrystalBrite. Main thing they seemed to have done is change the names of things so you haven’t got a clue how to do stuff you could do easily in XP.

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