Vista? At this rate, nobody will be using it

In Tuesday's IT Blogwatch, we wonder whether Windows Vista PCs are being downgraded to XP in bigger numbers than we thought. Not to mention cute choices...

Gregg Keizer reports:

More than one in every three new PCs is downgraded from Windows Vista to the older Windows XP, either at the factory or by the buyer.


Under the terms of Microsoft's end-user licensing agreement, Vista Business and Vista Ultimate can be "downgraded" to XP Professional; businesses that purchase Vista Enterprise can also downgrade to XP.

Although Microsoft retired Windows XP from mainstream availability at the end of June — it stopped shipping the seven-year-old operating system to retail and large computer makers — some OEMs have continued to offer new PCs with XP preinstalled by doing the downgrade at the factory. Hewlett-Packard Co., for example, has promised that it will offer the downgrade option on its business-class desktops, notebooks and workstations through July 2009. more

Randall C. Kennedy adds:

For weeks now there've been rumors that major PC makers, like Hewlett-Packard, have been quietly selling PCs with a Vista license but actually shipping them with the now "outlawed" Windows XP installed (no doubt using the "downgrade" license loophole). For these vendors, it's all about keeping their customers happy: Buyers want XP, so vendors are finding ways to provide it -- even if the practice serves to artificially inflate the sales figures for Vista.

But do business users really want XP now that Microsoft has ended sales of new XP licenses? Because we don't have access to HP's sales data or Dell's shipping manifests, we had to find our own source of comparison data ... The parameters we collect from the several thousand members of the community ... allow us to identify newer systems ... shipped with Windows Vista ... [So] we can determine whether the machine has been "downgraded" to XP.


In other words, more than a third of customers chose to dump Vista from their new PCs -- typically in favor of XP, but sometimes also one of the Server variants. more

Christopher Null offers this conundrum:

One of the few nice things about Windows Vista is that you can legally choose not to use it.


The percentage is surprisingly large and may actually be on the low side since the data comes from a system performance monitoring tool that users can voluntarily installed on your computer and which can't monitor Linux cross-grades. It also calls into question some of the bragging that Microsoft has done over Vista sales: Microsoft proudly trumpets that over 100 million Vista licenses have been sold to date, but it doesn't mention that 35 million of those have dropped back to XP or another OS.


It's difficult to underestimate what a big deal this is. I've never heard of such a violent rejection of a major operating system (Windows Me is the only thing that even comes close), particularly given that the primary alternative is no longer actually for sale. more

Zoli Erdos told you so:

The numbers speak for themselves, let me just add this: next time you look at Vista Sales figures, remember: these customers did not have the choice to buy XP directly, they had to get Vista on their systems, then “downgrade” (upgrade, if you ask me) to XP.    But but then their transaction is booked as a Vista purchase!

Vista sales figures are inflated, these transactions were not real purchases, just ransom paid to the monopolist for the privilege to use the OS that actually works- XP. more

But John Timmer wags a cautionary tail: [You're fired -Ed.]

It's often said that the greatest competitive threat to a new Microsoft OS release is the collective weight of all the past iterations of Windows.


From the perspective of this story, the results are pretty damning ... [But] I'm not convinced that InfoWorld's numbers clarify the situation. The survey only covers a few thousand machines, and the story never mentions what percentage of those are recent vintage. Without a good sense of the population that contributed data, it's hard to say how many of them had any choice in the OS department; many companies dictate OS versions based on IT policy, rather than what the manufacturer shipped the machine with. As such, I'd be hesitant to draw any conclusions from these figures. more

Adam DuVander is conflicted:

I don’t want to keep hating on Windows Vista, but it’s hard to stop.


Commenters have quickly pointed out that the sample probably isn’t a good glimpse of all Vista users. Only techies are likely to install Sentinel, so these are the same users who aren’t known for their operating system monogamy. Ma and Pa, buying a computer off the shelf, probably don’t even know what an OS is and certainly wouldn’t try changing it.

This techie group that is “downgrading” their version of Windows is an important barometer. Do you know who Ma and Pa go to when they have computer problems? There wouldn’t be nearly as many Firefox users if it wasn’t for people like me (and you?) installing it on family computers. more

And finally...

Do you want to see cute cats with funny text? Then click this:

Or are you fed up of cute animals and stupid, mis-spelled meme macro text? Then click this:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 21 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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