10 Reasons Why Microsoft Needs to Dump Windows Vista

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-02-02

10 Reasons Why Microsoft Needs to Dump Windows Vista

For the past three years, Microsoft has struggled with the poor development decisions it made with Windows Vista. During the same period, Internet Explorer drew unwanted attention from government regulators and Microsoft Office was subject to user criticism about the way its features have evolved. 

But Vista was undoubtedly the biggest target. The operating system that followed Windows XP-a favorite among consumers and businesses alike-suffered from incompatibility problems, resource-intensiveness and security issues, making it a poor choice for most Windows users. And unlike its predecessor, which enjoyed dominant market share, Vista was unable to achieve such success.

Since its release, Microsoft has been paying for the mistakes it made with Vista. Even when it tried to shift the market's focus from Vista to its latest release, Windows 7, it had a hard time. Regardless, the company pressed on, trying desperately to make the case to consumers that it could fix its mistake. It was a tough battle, but Microsoft has succeeded. 

According to a recent report from Net Applications, Windows 7 has captured 10 percent of the market in just over three months of availability. It took Vista 11 months to hit that mark. Most importantly, the market share of XP and Vista is slipping as users transition to Microsoft's latest operating system.

Finally, the time has come for Microsoft to leave Vista in the past. The days of attempting to make the case that it can do better are over. The company has proven it can. Now it's time for Microsoft to look to the future, forget about the errors it committed with Vista and continue its drive to make Windows 7 as big a success as XP.

Here's why:

1. The enterprise is forgetting

The enterprise had the biggest problem with Vista. Companies both large and small have relied upon Windows for years. With each new release of the operating system, the corporate world switches to the new platform. But Vista was different. After realizing the problems with the OS, companies opted to stick with XP. Recently, more companies have realized that they can trust Windows 7 PCs to replace their existing hardware. It took some time, but the corporate world is forgetting about Vista. Microsoft should do the same.

2. Consumers are moving on

As the corporate world prepares for the post-Vista world, consumers are following suit. According to Net Applications, Windows 7 now commands about 10 percent of the OS market, putting it within striking distance of Vista's 17 percent share. If Windows 7's growth continues, it could easily surpass Vista later in 2010, making XP the operating system to beat. Assuming those figures continue along the same lines, it's clear that the consumer market is prepared to adopt Windows 7.  Microsoft should be happy to hear that.

3. It can't pay indefinitely

Microsoft can't pay for the mistakes it made with Vista forever. Every software company eventually releases a software version that doesn't match expectations. And just because Vista was the first Microsoft release in a long time that didn't adequately satisfy the market's every desire, it can't be expected to pay for it with each release of a new operating system. Vista certainly wasn't an ideal operating system, but Microsoft learned its lesson. It's time to focus solely on Windows 7.

4. Windows 7 is a great OS

Windows 7 is a fine operating system. In fact, it's the operating system that Vista should have been when it was first launched. Unlike its predecessor, Windows 7 suffers few compatibility problems, it's far more secure than any other OS Microsoft has released  and it boasts several new features that make it a good choice for consumers and enterprise customers alike. Microsoft shouldn't focus on Vista when it has a fine replacement on store shelves. The past is gone.

Market Conditions Favor an Early Vista Retirement

5. Windows Vista still sold relatively well

It's easy to focus on the problems Vista had, but we can't forget that the operating system sold relatively well, compared with the rest of the market. Granted, Vista was never able to achieve the kind of success XP did, but it far outpaced Apple's Mac OS X platform. It was also far more popular than any single Linux distribution. Vista might not have been as successful as Microsoft would have liked, but it didn't perform poorly either.

6. Windows 7 is growing rapidly

Windows 7 is quickly becoming the chosen operating system of the market. XP still dominates the OS space, but its market share is dwindling with each passing month as Windows 7 starts taking over. Windows 7 is expected to overtake Vista in market share later this year. It will get closer to XP's market share in the same time. There's no telling when (or if) Windows 7 will be able to capture the majority of the OS market, but if its adoption stays on pace, it has a good shot at it. Microsoft should focus on Windows 7 besting XP, not on the mistakes it committed years ago with Vista.

7. Challenges await

If Microsoft spends too much time focusing on the past, it won't be adequately prepared to meet the challenges that still await its software platform. The market is changing at a rapid rate as software moves to the cloud. At the same time, Microsoft is forced to deliver a new operating system every few years to satisfy its customer base (and bottom line). The longer it focuses on Vista, the less time it can devote to the operating systems that will replace Windows 7. The OS market doesn't wait for any company. Microsoft isn't immune to that rule.

8. Windows XP is old

Although the majority of the market stuck with XP when Vista was offered, it can't do that forever. XP is getting old and the hardware it's running on is slowing down. Both consumers and the enterprise are running out of time before they will be forced to adopt a new operating system. And since most vendors are only offering Windows 7 in new PC configurations, it will only be a matter of time before customers move to Windows 7 out of sheer necessity. In other words, the customers are coming to Windows 7, regardless of their distaste for Vista. Why sweat the past?

9. Vendors are satisfied

When Microsoft released Vista, something rather disconcerting happened: PC vendors didn't follow orders. Rather than force Vista on customers, companies such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard opted to exercise Microsoft's downgrade rights, which allowed customers to request an XP installation rather than Vista. It cut into Microsoft's bottom line and hurt its relationship with vendors. But Windows 7 is a different story altogether. Today, vendors are more than happy to sell Windows 7. And all that talk of downgrade rights is a thing of the past. Vendors are happy. Microsoft should welcome that.

10. The competition is fierce

Microsoft simply doesn't have time to focus on all the mistakes it made years ago. The competition in the operating system space is extremely fierce. Not only are Apple and Linux vying for OS market share on the desktop, Google plans to release its Web-based operating system to compete with Windows on netbooks. Microsoft's competition is gunning for the highly profitable OS market and Microsoft must engage in the right strategy to stop it. Focusing on Vista can't be part of that strategy.

Vista was a mistake. Windows 7 made it right. Microsoft has paid enough for its Vista failures. It's time to move on.

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