Microsoft upset about ‘schizophrenic’ Vista research report

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Redmond (WA) – Here we go again. It appears that there is little good news about Windows Vista these days and Microsoft is not doing much to correct the doubt about Vista impressions that exist today. Market research firm Forrester apparently found that only 8.8% of corporations are using Windows Vista today, while 87% still use Windows XP. He went as far as describing Vista as a product that was rejected by customers and as a flop that may force Microsoft to revert its strategy. No surprise, Microsoft is unhappy.

According to Microsoft’s Chris Flores, who not necessarily disagrees with the claim that the adoption rate of Windows Vista is low, claims that Forrester’s Thomas Mendel lacks common knowledge about software upgrade cycles in the industry and simply “skims” over “common knowledge”.

Combining the answers from 50,000 businesses, Mendel found that fewer than one in 11 of PCs being used in big firms runs Vista. More than 87% were still running Windows XP at the end of last month. Considering the fact that Vista has been on the market for 18 months (21 months if you count in the Express upgrade period) and has been available to large-scale beta-testing even longer, the fact that only 8.8% of businesses run Vista may raise doubts over the benefits the operating system offers to businesses.

Mendel was ready to call Vista a marketing flop and advised companies to reconsider their need for Vista and suggested that waiting for Windows 7 may be a much better idea (which, however, may be just an upgrade of Windows Vista.)    

Flores shot back at Mendel, stating that “enterprise adoption of OSes has always been much slower than consumer adoption.” He also states that Mendel’s report contradicts the advice given by another Forrester analyst, Ben Gray, who recommended business users to upgrade to Vista rather sooner than later. “Mendel's report also goes against other industry analyst reports that show that Windows Vista adoption is progressing faster, or at the very least, just as fast, as Windows XP adoption did when it first launched,” Flores said.

Flores, who is a director on Microsoft’s Windows Client Communications Team, then goes on to beat the Vista sales drum. As reported before, Microsoft claims that 180 million Vista licenses have been sold. Which is an impressive number, but put into perspective with other Vista license sales numbers in the past, sales growth may actually be negative. Flores did not comment on this specific concern. To us, the 180-million-story raises doubts at best and may put Microsoft’s PR team into deeper Vista trouble than it is already at worst.

“Given that there's a mountain of evidence to refute this report - including multiple reports from Forrester and other top-tier analysts - this appears to be more focused on making sensationalist statements, rather than offering a thoughtful industry perspective, based on conversations with IT operations professionals or deep knowledge of enterprise deployment cycles,” Flores wrote and continued: “How is this useful guidance to customers?  It's disappointing to see such a respected organization like Forrester take this approach.”

There is not enough information provided by Microsoft to enable us to make a reasonable conclusion who is right and who is wrong in this debate. However, quoting analyst reports as evidence against other analyst reports may not cut for Microsoft in the long term to get rid of speculations about Vista’s success or failure.  

But it appears reasonable to conclude that Vista has not become the success Microsoft has hoped for, especially if Bill Gates was quoted saying that there is room for improvement. Windows 7 needs to be killer operating system to allow Microsoft to regain trust and if current indications that the operating system is simply a Vista upgrade with a few flashy features are right, then we would predict that Windows 7 will not be enough to accomplish that goal.

A recent reserach report echoed Mendel's finding by stating that 60% of 1152 surveyed U.S. IT adminstrators currently have no plans of upgrading their systems to Windows Vista.