Practical Technology

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Night of the Living Vista


Today, I think of Vista as the zombie operating system. It stumbles around, and from a distance you might think its alive, but close up its the walking dead.

The first sign that Vista was in real trouble was when major vendors started to offer XP again on new machines. In February, Microsoft insisted it had already sold more than 20 million copies of Windows Vista. Oh yeah, like there were actually 20 million copies of Vista already out there and running. Pull the other leg, its got bells on.

If Vista was doing great, then why did Dell break ranks with the other major OEMs to start offering XP again and
become the first top-tier vendor to offer XP in replacement for Vista in April? Adding insult to injury, Dell
actually had the effrontery to offer desktop Linux
to its customers.

Other OEMs followed Dells lead, or to be more precise, its customers demands. Lenovo, for example, when it rolled out its revamped high-end ThinkPad T61p workstation notebooks in July, made a point of offering not just Vista but XP Pro and, yes, several Linux distributions, including Novells SUSE, Red Hat and Turbo Linux.

So it came as no surprise at all to me when Mike Nash, Microsofts corporate vice president for Windows product management, announced that, due to OEM demand, Microsoft will keep selling XP until June 2008. Of course, he also claims there is little chance the June 30 date will be extended.

Want to bet?

Nash and Microsoft apologist Rob Enderle claim that its no fault with Vista thats causing customers to stay away from it. Indeed, Nash insists that Vista is on track to become the fastest-selling operating system of all time. Really? Then why in the world is Microsoft continuing to offer in-house competition?

At the same time, Enderle, an analyst who counts Microsoft as a customer, said, “Vista adoption is well below where I thought it would be by now…Corporations arent even close to being ready for Vista, and many of us have been expecting this move. The biggest issue is that most dont seem to see the value in the product. Right now the majority of the comments Im getting would indicate the people [who] dont want Vista right now are in the majority.”

Enderle, mind you, is about as pro-Microsoft an analyst there is in the business today. If hes saying that people dont want Vista, and the OEMs, which at the end of the day are all about selling units, dont want to sell it, the only conclusion you can come to is that Vista is failing to win the market.

There are many reasons why Vista is doing the zombie stumble. Microsoft has and continues to mislead
customers about how much PC is really needed to run Vista
. Even some of Windows most loyal users are finding that its poor performance, lousy software support and pathetic driver support is too much to stomach. People who wouldnt touch any Microsoft product until the first service patch appears. And, last but never ever least, if XP isnt broke, why “fix” it with Vista?

Now you might think some of this is legacy backlash. People dont like change. Theyd rather use Windows 2000 than XP, Windows 98 SE than 2000,and Windows ME more than…well, OK, no one liked ME. But Ive been through these cycles many times before. This is different.

XP SP2, with XP SP3 finally due to show up soon, is not only the best Windows to date, I cant think of a single reason to switch from XP to Vista. Im not talking a good reason, I really mean any reason.

If you want a better operating system than XP, may I recommend Xandros as the most painless way for an XP user to give Linux a try, or if the idea of installing Linux gives you hives, you can just buy an Ubuntu-powered Dell 1420 laptop, which is a very sweet machine. Or just bite the bullet and go ahead and buy, say, the new MacBook Pro 15-inch to give Mac OS a try.

Whatever you do, even if its just sticking with XP, youll be doing better than moving to Vista. Vista is the walking dead of the operating-system world.

A version of “Night of the Living Vista” was first published in eWEEK.

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