RealTime IT News

Vista Makes Gains Despite Windows 7's Debut

Much of the IT world is busy preparing for Windows 7's debut in October. But don't look now, because Windows Vista is making something of a comeback.

A new survey shows that the nearly three-year-old Vista -- roundly criticized for being a sluggish, overpriced resource hog that initially had poor driver support and lack of application compatibility -- grew 4 percentage points between July 2008 and March 2009.

As a result, Vista has been installed in 11.9 percent of IT shops, according to the report.

The gains that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Vista has made have largely been at the expense of the reigning king of the PC operating system hill, the venerable Windows XP, which lost almost the same amount of share as Vista picked up during that time. As of March, XP still resided on 86 percent of all business PCs.

The underlying message is that, like it or not, XP's days are numbered.

"While Windows Vista use grew by 4.6 percentage points ... Windows XP use declined by 4.1 percentage points over the same time," said the report, co-authored by Benjamin Gray, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Forrester compiled the report by examining PC clients that visited the company's Web site between July 2008 and March 2009 -- a total of some 85,000 visits by clients from more than 2,600 different companies.

As IT shops remain in their "holding pattern" regarding the soon-to-be-released Windows 7 -- which is slated for an Oct. 22 launch -- many can no longer simply put off long-needed hardware and software upgrades.

Moving ahead on plans to deploy Vista, though, hasn't otherwise much changed the dynamic among competing operating systems.

"It’s no surprise that Microsoft's Windows is the most dominant platform, holding strong at 96.2 percent of the market through March 2009," the report said. Also gaining ground -- a partial surprise -- was Apple's OS X, which grew its market share from 2.7 percent last July to 3.6 percent in March.

That's good news for Windows Vista and Mac OS, but not so good for Linux.

"Linux use continues to head south and is now down to just 0.1 percent of the overall corporate PC market," the report said, although it pointed out that Linux may still see a boost from the thin clients and netbooks categories.

"As companies remain in their holding pattern on Windows 7, it’s allowing IT ops to explore alternative computing models, and Linux makes sense on some of these emerging platforms due to its increasing availability, lower costs, and improved enterprise interoperability -- making now as good a time as ever to reassess the utility of an open-source model across not just client OS but also Internet browser and personal productivity applications as well."

For Windows Vista, however, the picture may be about to change dramatically. Another recent report, this one from systems lifecycle management vendor ScriptLogic, showed that nearly 40 percent of the 1,100 IT decision makers polled said they have plans to deploy Windows 7 by the end of 2010 -- a much larger percentage than is normal for even a major Microsoft upgrade.

That might ensure that a Vista resurgence remains limited -- even if the same study also found that nearly 60 percent of IT shops don't currently have plans to deploy Windows 7.

Other surveys have found antipathy toward Vista. A survey released in December found that 46 percent of the 700 IT decision makers polled would skip Vista altogether and wait for Windows 7, although many corporate IT buyers will be able to get a hold of Windows 7 final code by early September.

Another survey from April showed that 83 percent of IT shops would skip Vista altogether and go straight to Windows 7, though not immediately.