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.