- Vista, all things considered, isn’t doing as well as Microsoft had hoped.
- Microsoft can’t sell Vista in the world’s most populous country.
- Microsoft fears more users in China will go with Linux, so they started giving away XP for $3.
- At this point, it seemed clear Microsoft was nervous (desperate?) regarding Vista.
- Microsoft has now cut the price of Vista flavors in China by more than half!
From the above it doesn’t take a genius to see that Microsoft is trying hard to get a Microsoft OS, any Microsoft OS, on PCs in China. My question is simply this: Why?
Has Microsoft been reduced to giving away an old OS in pursuit of “market share” numbers? Except for a few Microsoft apologists, who thinks OS market share really means anything? Who will develop apps and services for a market that will not buy them (though they’ll be happy to pirate them)? If you’re a major software player it’s not worth it, if you’re a startup you’ll go broke.
Steve Balmer said that Windows’ one billionth copy will be sold next year, and that number is greater than the number of automobiles in the world. Is this a move to get there sooner? That would be silly, but Microsoft has done sillier things.
Look at Microsoft’s highly-touted 97% market share compared to Apple’s 3%, and then look at the profits driven by those percentages. It’s clear loss-leader hardware and software is not the way to profits.
If Microsoft’s moves are not about market share, then they must be about rampant piracy. That would certainly make more sense, but then their actions aren’t enough. I guess Microsoft believes the $3 XP pack will build a foundation upon which to cultivate a new generation of Windows users. I think they’re wrong. By giving away their old technology they’ll still face piracy; who wants the old OS when you can easily get the new one?
If piracy was the target, Microsoft should have dropped Vista Basic to $3 and left XP out of it entirely. At least then their new-found $3 customers wouldn’t immediately have to consider dumping a six-year-old OS with known security vulnerabilities for either Linux (maybe) or a pirated Vista (most likely). If you’re willing to take a loss to cultivate a new generation of users, then don’t be stupid and try to do it with your old software.
Whether an attempt to bolster market share or stem the flow of piracy, I think Microsoft’s latest moves in China will fall short. The former because market share means very little, the latter because a $1 Vista is pretty hard for a $3 XP to compete with.