Windows Vista is Microsoft's current flagship operating
system for consumers. The operating system launched in late November for OEMs
and was released to consumers on January
Microsoft has long-touted the operating system as a
revolutionary product for desktops and notebooks -- a product that would leave
no consumers longing for the 5-year-old Windows XP operating system.
"Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 will transform
the way people work and play," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on
January 30. "Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 squarely address the
needs and aspirations of people around the globe."
"The visual effects are spectacular; the navigation is
streamlined and intuitive," added Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "They
make it much easier to protect your PC, yourself and your children online. And
they work together to help you accomplish more throughout the day."
In the months following the consumer launch of Windows
Vista, Microsoft played the numbers game with sales figures. The company
announced in late March that it sold
20 million licenses of Vista within two months compared to just 17 million
for Windows XP. The number crept up to 40 million by mid-May
and by late July; Microsoft reported that 60
million copies of Windows Vista had been shipped around the world.
Microsoft expects to have shipped one billion copies of
Windows by the end of 2008.
Despite the many successes that Microsoft has touted with
its operating system, some consumers just aren't impressed. Some have derided
Windows Vista as being a bloat-fest with a prettier GUI and slower performance
than its well-seasoned Windows XP predecessor -- ironically, both of those
"flaws" were leveled against Windows XP in comparison to Windows 2000
after its launch in late 2001.
Other features that have irritated a number of consumers
include the intrusive User Access Control (which can be turned off),
application and driver incompatibilities, beefed up anti-piracy/activation
scheme and Explorer's inability to remember View Settings among countless
others -- feel free to add your own in the comments section.
The numerous issues many customers have with Windows Vista
are compounded by the fact that many feel that Microsoft's pricing for the
operating system doesn't quite mesh with the perceived value offered over
Windows XP. Windows Vista is priced at $199/$99.95 for Vista Home Basic,
$239/$159 for Vista Home Premium, $299/$199 for Vista Business and $399/$259
for Vista Ultimate (full/upgrade).
As a result of the complaints from customers and businesses
regarding Vista, Microsoft recently began offering an "XP downgrade"
option for OEMs. The decision to downgrade a Vista installation is fully
supported by Microsoft, but it’s up to each individual OEM to provide the
option to its customers. Unfortunately, the option only exists for Vista
Business and Vista Ultimate installations – Vista Home Basic and Vista Home
Premium users are out of luck.
Fujitsu, which took matters into its own hands by offering
copies of Windows XP with its Vista notebooks and Tablet PCs, fully embraces
"That's going to help out small- and medium-size
businesses," said Fujitsu's Brandon Farris to CNET
Other PC retailers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo also
provide their customers with Windows XP if they so choose.
"For business desktops, workstations and select
business notebooks and tablet PCs, customers can configure their systems to
include the XP Pro restore disc for little or no charge," said HP
spokeswoman Tiffany Smith.
"We've been offering it and we're still offering
it," added Dell's Anne Camden.
While Vista Business and Vista Ultimate users have always
had the right to downgrade to Windows XP per the licensing agreement, the
actual implementation of the program has been lacking. The process by which to
get XP media for new systems with Vista Business or Vista Ultimate
pre-installed was often complicated and troublesome, but changes made over the
past few months have made it considerably easier for customers.
Some companies, such as Dell, have
even gone so far to allow consumers to purchase new PCs with Windows XP
pre-installed; thus leaving Vista completely out of the equation.
With that said, the window of opportunity to acquire Windows
XP is slowly closing. Direct OEM and retail license availability of Windows XP
will cease on
January 31, 2008.