Vista could still triumph for Microsoft

Microsoft's current operating system is often derided but is the tide turning in its favour?

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In addition, history tends to repeat itself. XP deployments eventually accelerated, reaching near-ubiquity by the time Vista finally debuted. Similarly, some industry observers expect rollouts of Vista to pick up -- even in the shadow of Windows 7 -- as a Vista SP2 arrives, companies refresh aging hardware and the end of mainstream support for XP next April draws closer.

For instance, Gartner expects Vista to be running on 49% of all PCs worldwide by the end of next year -- surpassing XP's market share, which the consulting firm forecasts at 44%.

Lundberg Family Farms in Richfield, Calif., is in the process of upgrading its 100 PCs to Vista. "We don't try to be at the cutting edge, but we don't want to be too far behind," said Todd Ramsden, Lundberg's IT manager. "Sooner or later, we knew we were going to have to move forward."

Ramsden added that his users have been "pretty good with going with the flow" on the rollout. "I've gotten some complaints about Vista," he said. "But most of the time, it turns out they're really complaining about some change in Office 2007."

Moreover, most of the talk among enterprise Vista holdouts is about sticking with XP or waiting for Windows 7 -- not switching to Mac OS X or Linux. Cherry said skipping an operating system release may merely be a long-term trend, not an indication "of Vista being a failure." And he noted that until companies jump off the Windows treadmill instead of merely slowing it down, "Microsoft still makes its money."

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