100 Million Vistas Sold: Some May Be In Actual Use.

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Joe Wilcox of Microsoft Watch was at least decent enough to correct Bill Gates’ statement during his keynote Sunday night at CES about 100 million people actually using Vista:

“We have 100 million people using Vista now,” Gates told the capacity crowd in Las Vegas this evening. Maybe the user number was wishful thinking on the part of Gates. Microsoft’s press release refers to the more believable number of 100 million licenses sold.

As usual, however, the MS press release plays tricks with terminology. Amazingly, the truth serum Joe consumed also forced him to correct that little bit of marketing spin:

Even the 100 million licenses sold is a misstatement. Microsoft really means 100 million licenses shipped, which doesn’t account for the number deployed or number downgraded to Windows XP.

Bingo! As with seemingly everything else they sell, MS tells you the number they forced down the channel’s throat. How many were actually brought home and in use is anyone’s guess. Then Joe goes to on to speculate, as many have:

I’d like to know how many Windows XP licenses Microsoft shipped during the last six months, particularly to consumers or businesses that bought Windows Vista PCs. Now, that would be an interesting number.

Sure, and it would confirm what we’re already able to glean from the exaggerated Vista figures MS is spewing, which is why Redmond won’t release them. Windows XP is doing surprisingly well for an OS “replaced” a year ago.Up to now Joe’s been on the money. Unfortunately, just when I thought the Joe of old was back and looking at Microsoft critically, we get this:

That said, 100 million is an amazing number, given that Windows Vista has been in the mass market-meaning on new PCs-for less than a year. For an operating system panned by many reviewers and customers, Vista is successful as measured by licenses shipped.

No, Joe, that number is not amazing (as we’ll see shortly). Further, the idea that Vista’s been out for “less than a year” is just wrong. Starting in November of 2006 everyone buying a PC was getting a coupon for a free Vista. And in fact Microsoft counted those coupons among their first public figures of Vista sales in early March. People have been “buying” Vista for 14 months.Finally, Joe continues to get back in Microsoft’s good graces with this:

For an operating system panned by many reviewers and customers, Vista is successful as measured by licenses shipped. I’ve got to wonder: What would the number be if Vista were actually a hit?

Actually, as measured by licenses shipped (which is a misleading measure anyway), it’s still not a success. And while Joe’s truth serum wore off before he could admit this, Paul Thurrott’s recent dose already prompted him to answer Joe’s question a few weeks ago:

As of today, Microsoft has sold maybe 100 million Vista licenses a year into the OS’s release. Given that over 250 million PCs will be sold in 2007, that’s pretty unimpressive: I figured it would have been closer–much closer–to 200 million licenses by now.

Obviously, a lot of people are staying with XP, buying new PCs with XP (or Linux), or moving to Macs. Meanwhile, businesses are avoiding Vista like the plague, and will continue to do so well into 2008. This is why XP SP3 is being worked on just as diligently as Vista’s SP1. It’s also why Microsoft is devoting time to talk about Microsoft 7.0.

Bottom line is Vista has a fraction of the sales Microsoft should easily have garnered (think about it, they had to screw this up really bad to do so poorly), has a PR and perception problem, and must dedicate numerous resources for damage control, marketing spin, and service packs even for the old OS.

Oh well. Take heart, Microsoft fans. I’m pretty sure very soon we’ll hear how many Xbox units and Zunes Microsoft channel-stuffed during the Holiday season. Some day those units may actually be used, too.

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7 thoughts on “100 Million Vistas Sold: Some May Be In Actual Use.

  1. It is possible that MS cannot count corporate users via activations. In my enterprise experience, the volume licenses of XP didn’t require activation. It would have been a nightmare for large deployments. I am not in that line of work at the moment, but I imagine it’s the same for Vista.

  2. Roxx…

    I think the “big deal” is that, if Microsoft chose, it could provide up-to-the-minute figures for Vista installations, because it must be capable of reporting the total number of “real” licencese that have been activated.

    Instead, it chooses to indulge in “pumping” the popularity of the Vista family and is using its own consulting operations to ram the corporate editions of Vista down the throats of business. I know of several companies who, having asked for consultancy support for a migration to Exchange Server 2007, are being pressurised to adopt Vista even though the two products have no inherent dependency.

    Quite frankly, that’s a pretty shabby way to do business: the client is paying for an evaluation and professional implementation of a given product, but is also being subjected to a high-pressure campaign to adopt another product which has questionable productivity or ROI benefits for the customer, but where MSFT (as the vendor) is merely trying to hype the product.

    MSFT is undoubtedly forward-counting all volume licensing customers who have Software Assurance attached to their Windows XP licenses and is also counting all of those vouchers whether they have been redeemed or not.

    There is no statistical likelihood that – out of the 250 million CPUs sold in 2007 – 100 million are actively using Vista simply because so many of those 250 million are shipped to corporates who would simply have gone sideways to Windows XP or, in some cases, Windows 2000: There isn’t enough third-party driver support or ISV support to make Vista a realistic option for these customers until SP1 at the earliest.

    he likelihood that, out of 250 million CPU sales (of which a huge number is to corporates) over 100 million

  3. Roxx,

    The biggest difference in Vista is that the DRM-infestation caused a lot of compatibility problems with anything that wasn’t pretty new. The lack of drivers from just about everybody proves this wasn’t just a few software publishers late to the party, but rather radical and severe constraints that were not easily addressed. Driver problems and the resulting instabilities are probably still Vista’s biggest issues.

    You are right that every OS comes with bugs. Apple’s Leopard has been a tremendous success and yet it certainly has its share. The real question is how many people are bitten and how severe do they hamper one’s work. No OS ever got horrible reviews like Vista. No OS ever infuriated as many users as Vista. To compare the contempt and complacency with which Vista is held to, say, XP before it is a fool’s game. The critiques of XP were nowhere near as universal as Vista’s were (and still are in many quarters).

    When the hardware vendors have to setup new programs to get you another OS (Linux) and an older OS (XP) on your PC, that’s when you know how bad things have become. When a hardware president (from Acer) slams your OS and blames it for the slowed PC sales, that’s when you know how bad things have become. When a major reseller flatly blames lowered profits on your OS, that’s when you know how bad things have become.

    No way with 200-250 million PCs sold in 2007, and Vista on less than half of them (when the whole world knows it should have been 80-90%) can Vista be termed anything but a failure so far.

  4. I hate to defend any corporation including microsoft but I’m trying to understand what the big deal is. I’ve programmed and designed on 95, xp and now vista and unless you use very specific software that don’t have updates to be integrated into vista; the os is no different than xp. And if the software doesn’t work or doesn’t have patches so it could work on vista, then how’s that microsoft’s fault?

    Sure there’s a few glitches but what program/software/operating system is perfect? xp was and is definitely not perfect either and if anyone believes xp is so great, then they’re still cheering for microsoft.

    XP was released in 2001 and vista only jan 2007 so yes i’m sure xp has alot more glitches fixed than vista but that’s what time is for. I believe that we are all creatures of habit and most are afraid of change and don’t handle themselves well when their security blankets are removed and six years of no new operating system can definitely do that to people!

    I recently bought a computer that had vista installed on it and having used operating systems from windows 3.1 to 95 patch, 95 and xp, Vista is actually much easier to use and has more common sense applied to it as a whole.

    Sure, Mac is considered great and stable, but you have to pay a crazy price for that “stability and greatness”. I don’t find it worth the value for anyone unless they have very very very specific uses for it and use software that are only for mac.

  5. When I bought a new laptop late 2007, it had Vista on it. There was nothing that I could find with XP. I’d happily go back to XP if I could do it without paying for a whole new program. As it is, it might be worth the cost.

    Forcefeeding people a particular program does not mean that they’re using it. What’s more, it certainly doesn’t mean that they’re ENJOYING using it.

    I was too afraid to go Mac mid semester with papers and all due (which is, of course, when I killed my old one).

    I have no intention of buying another Microsoft-laden PC again.

  6. I agree. My laptop that I bought from Dell had a free Vista upgrade that came when Vista was released. Vista’s installation disc is still in the box and not even opened. I won’t install that junk.

    My friends who have Vista say its nothing but trouble. One of them actually shipped her computer back to Dell and bought a Mac instead.

  7. Obviously the numbers are supported by the netapplications internet usage martketshare trend which shows an increase in marketshare from januari 2007 to december 2007 from 0.18% to 10.48%.
    Pre sales hard seem to have had an impact as the first significant increase in februari 2007 is actually below the average of the 11 month period.

    When accounting for the licenses shipped to only include januari and asuming a fairly average increase of about 1% for that periode it would be 11.5% marketshare on the internet for Vista afeter 12 months. When asuming 1 billion Windows installations that would suggest that they would have sold 115 million licenses by then even.

    So the number of 100 million could actually represent quite closely the number that is in actual use today.

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