Bill Gates Says Vista Selling At 'Rapid' Pace

In a Thursday speech in Tokyo, Gates noted that Vista sales have passed the 140 million mark and said that's proof of the "rapid sales rate" that Vista has experienced since its release.

Gates isn't the only one wearing rosy colored glasses when it comes to Vista. In a report issued last month, Gartner said Vista adoption among businesses is in line with that of XP at a comparable juncture after its release, and predicted Vista will have an installed base of 21.3 percent by year's end, compared to 16.9 percent for XP in 2003.

Could it be, then, that much of the anti-Vista sentiment that has permeated the market is just a giant, collective overreaction? According to solution providers, the truth lies somewhere in between the hope and the hysteria.

Most customers are buying Vista with new systems, but they're not upgrading existing infrastructure, says Neil Pearlstein, president of PC Professional, an Oakland, Calif.-based Microsoft Gold Partner

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Pearlstein describes the bad rap that Vista has received as "unfair but understandable." "Vista tackles some very big security problems that were prevalent with XP, but it does sacrifice some performance," he said. "There's a give and take, but as long as your PC is new enough, Vista runs fine."

Many VARs say their business customers have been avoiding Vista like the plague, and are eager to exercise the downgrade rights Microsoft offers with Vista Business and Ultimate to roll Vista machines back to XP. OEMs, too, have quietly been discussing their plans for offering XP Professional to customers after the June 30 Microsoft sales deadline.

An XP extension would make life easier in the channel, but isn't absolutely necessary, says Joe Toste, vice president of marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based custom system builder.

"The transition [from XP to Vista] is coming, just like it did with Windows 2000 [to XP]. But fortunately, we're beginning to see our Vista business increasing in the channel," Toste said.

Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Salisbury, Md.-based solution provider, says it has taken a long time for many users to mentally ready themselves to make the switch to Vista.

"If XP does the job, is still improved and supported, and keeps the user more productive, why consciously force Vista onto them?" Fisher said.