Microsoft gets paid twice as Vista users downgrade to XP

Microsoft has a far deeper problem with Vista than it had originally expected.

In a clear indictment of Microsoft's Windows strategy, new research suggests that up to a third of all new Windows Vista machines get downgraded to XP, either by the hardware vendors like Dell, or by customers.

That is a massive number. Ironically, it's a number that works to the short-term advantage of Microsoft's top and bottom lines, but it still represents a vote of "no confidence" in Microsoft's Windows strategy.

Microsoft's only hope at this point is that customers will forget Vista as rapidly as they did Millennium and ramp up anticipation for Windows 7. Actually, it's real hope is that Windows 7 will be worth waiting for.

No one is buying Apple's machines because of an upgrade from OS X 10.3 to 10.5. They're upgrading from Windows XP or from the iPod or iPhone. They want, in other words, a different computing experience, not merely an improved operating system. No one thinks about operating systems anymore. Or not much.

Until Microsoft finds some compelling reason for people to care about its operating system, or provides differentiated value beyond the operating system, it's going to find that Windows 7 won't solve its ills. Midori, which blends the cloud with the desktop, is a much smarter bet. Windows 7? It feels like more of the same Vista problem.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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