Microsoft Gives Up on Vista

The question now isn't "Is Vista Dead?" It is. The real question is: Can Microsoft get Windows 7 out in time to save its desktop domination? I think Microsoft "could" pull it off. Here's how.

Vista is dead.

That's not what Bill Gates said at a seminar on corporate philanthropy in Miami on April 4, but it might as well have been. What Gates actually said, according to the Reuters report, is that he expects that the next desktop version of Windows, Windows 7, would be released "sometime in the next year or so."

Goodbye Vista. It has not been fun knowing you.

I predicted that Microsoft was giving up on Vista in January. It seems I was right. Microsoft's own top brass had hated Vista when it first came out, why should they expect anyone else to like it?

Vista SP1 has proven to be a painful upgrade and its performance still lags behind XP SP2 and, the still unreleased XP SP3. Worse still, from a Microsoft executive's viewpoint, Windows is actually losing desktop market share to Mac OS X and Linux. Microsoft never loses desktop market share. But with Vista Microsoft is finally losing customers.

I think Microsoft saw the handwriting on the wall early on. The company started playing up Windows 7 as early as July 2007. Now, Microsoft's business plan is always to get its customers to upgrade to the next version. It's how they make their billions. But, in this case, Vista was barely out the door.

Can Microsoft actually make a Windows 7 that can ship by 2009 that will win customers? Vista was infamous for its blown deadlines. Windows 7 must not only replace the failed Vista, it has to convince Microsoft's customers that Windows 7 will really be better than XP.

That isn't going to be easy. I find it more than a little telling that Microsoft has given XP Home a new lease on life for UMPC (Ultra Mobile PCs). Still. I think Microsoft has one card up its sleeve that just might keep its customers happy and make it out in 2009: Server 2008 Workstation.