King Research has issued the results of a survey of IT executives that finds that 90% of IT workers have concerns with Vista, which piles on similar results from a Forrester study which found that more than 50% of IT executives have concerns with rolling out Vista (and that only 32% will do so in 2008).
In fact, the upgrade to Vista is painful enough that "44% have considered non-Windows operating systems, such as Linux and Macintosh, to avoid the Microsoft migration." (Interestingly, 9% of those saying they have considered non-Windows operating systems already in the process of switching and a further 25% expecting to switch within the next year. I can tell you that my own company went from being 100% Windows two years ago and is now 50-60% Mac.) If you're Windows, you're concerned at this point. Very concerned.
But not necessarily with these rival operating systems. As is the case in many open-source companies (where their own software working too well is their biggest competition to their for-fee products), the Microsoft's XP may well be its biggest competitor,:
What's interesting is that many open-source companies find their biggest competition to be themselves--that is, the free version of their products. What Microsoft is competing with is the absorbed-cost version of Windows XP that customers already have. But XP wasn't actually free. Customers were bonked on the head to move from W2K (and I would say it was a good upgrade) and now are being strong-armed to upgrade to Vista, which has minimal upside. Vista simply isn't compelling enough to upgrade.
Equally of note is that virtualization is helping to drive the switch from one operating system to another, with ~66% noting that virtualization has made switching to an alternative easier. Fortunately for Microsoft, 60% say that they manage their Windows systems with tools that don't support non-Windows environments. Systems management could well be Microsoft's savior.
Relying upon systems management vendors to continue to be limp-minded about heterogeneous environments seems like a poor bet, though....With much of the concern about Vista stemming from its stability and its compatibility with business software, Microsoft may have inadvertently put its business at risk. It looks like it needs unfair advantage to compete.