Vultures Circling Windows Vista's Corpse

Microsoft recently told IDG News it's not sure if PC makers will be able to sell machines with Vista after Windows 7 comes out. It's hard to see that as anything other than a white flag of surrender when one considers Microsoft's past efforts to depict Vista as the unfortunate victim of negative hearsay.

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder, expects sales of Vista PCs to drop precipitously when Microsoft releases Windows 7. "The problems that customers had in transitioning from XP to Vista won't be nearly as bad in moving from Vista to Windows 7," he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson told the company hasn't yet decided when it will stop selling Windows Vista. In the past, Microsoft has generally given OEMs and retailers four years after the product's predecessor ships, with a slightly longer deadline for system builders. Microsoft will offer mainstream support for business versions of Vista until 2012.

Soon after its launch in November 2006, Vista became a punching bag for partners and customers who quickly grew frustrated with application and driver compatibility issues. Vista Service Pack 1 solved most of these issues, but the damage to its image was already done, and Microsoft's subsequent entreaties to convince customers to upgrade to Vista before Windows 7 have mostly fallen on deaf ears.

Sponsored post

These troubles, combined with XP's time-tested reliability, have kept many customers in an XP holding pattern that's likely to end once Microsoft rolls out Windows 7. Larry Piland, president of Datel Systems, a San Diego-based solution provider, still has a significant number of customers choosing this course of action.

"They've already decided not to upgrade to Vista, so when Windows 7 comes out, they're not going to upgrade to Vista and then to Windows 7," Piland said.

Microsoft released the Windows 7 Release Candidate to testers last week and will offer it to the public on Tuesday. If no major bugs derail its progress, Microsoft looks to be on track to release Windows 7 to manufacturing in late summer or fall.

However, despite positive early reviews, and pent-up demand from Vista avoiders, Windows 7 may not be an immediate sales hit for Microsoft due to the sluggish economy. It would be more than a bit ironic for Microsoft to finally banish Vista's demons only to have Vista's successor beset by a different set of unfortunate circumstances.