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.