Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/30/vista_birthday/

Ugly view mars Windows Vista birthday

Reality bites

By Gavin Clarke

Posted in Operating Systems, 30th November 2007 19:53 GMT

Like the queen, Windows Vista gets to celebrate two birthdays in close succession. November 30 marks the first, with the "business" launch a year ago at venues across the planet. Next January will mark the second birthday date.

While the past 12 months have been dominated by headlines over sales and uptake - or lack thereof - the operating system's first year will also be remembered for a lack of buy-in from software developers and hardware partners.

It's been a long, slow road for Windows partners. Having changed the Windows architecture with UAC, setting user defaults instead of administrator privileges, removing the graphics sub system from the kernel, and closing the kernel off to third parties, Microsoft set the barrier to certification pretty high.

And as if that wasn't tough enough, the addressable market Microsoft promised partners simply didn't materialize. Pre-launch, Microsoft claimed Windows Vista would out sell Windows XP, and be running on 400 million PCs 24 months after launch, compared to three years before Windows XP hit even half of that on 210 million.

According to latest data from NPD, Microsoft is shipping fewer boxed copies of Windows Vista than it did Windows XP at the same point in the operating systems' lifecycles.

Gartner, meanwhile, has said businesses are actually postponing their move to Windows Vista from the anticipated late 2007 and 2008 dates, to late 2008 going on 2009. One reason will be the absence of the first Service Pack - traditionally, the first Windows service pack is regarded as a first step by those in business IT to installing the latest version of Windows.

Fact Fitter

That hasn't stopped Microsoft trying to fit the facts to reality. Following the January "mass" launch Microsoft claimed to have sold 20 million Windows Vista licenses in one month. That compared to Windows XP that shipped 17 million copies in two and a half months after its 2001 launch. Licenses, though, did not translate to PCs in the hands of end users hands. Twenty million PCs were simply not sold in just one month, meaning licenses were pumped out to partners and were sitting in the channel or at OEMs, going nowhere. Proving the point, OEMs like Dell began re-stocking Windows XP.

Those nagging technical difficulties presented another problem. Users - even Microsoft's own executives - complained Windows Vista was unable to work with their systems or crashed. The issue became hard to ignore, as Acer's chief executive slammed Windows Vista for being a huge disappointment to the whole industry, picking on stability and lack of sales as problems.

Having first talked of "rumors" of problems, Microsoft 'fessed up by the summer: 4,000 drivers were causing "most" problems.

At launch, one year ago, Microsoft claimed to have "more than" 250 hardware and software products certified for Windows Vista. In the 90 days between the "business" launch and January 2007 "mass" launch, Microsoft pressed hard to get more.

This was not the ideal position for a new version of Windows to be in.

Worse, as Gartner noted of the November 2006 launch, Windows Vista wasn't actually finished. The code shipped to manufacturing with 19,000 drivers ready to go, while another 12,000 were only due to become available afterwards through download.

By July, Microsoft said there were 1,900 applications and 10,000 devices certified as either Windows Ready or Windows Vista Capable. Microsoft didn't say whether the Windows Ready or Windows Vista Capable category dominated, which was notable because the latter was possibly the easiest certification to achieve while - ultimately - being the least useful to developers or end users.

Today, you can find a slowly building list of applications certified for Windows Vista here and hardware here.

With the 2007 Holiday shopping season now upon us, there's more than a sense of seasonal goodwill in the air: there is also the vague promise that Windows Vista could, at least in the consumer market, finally see some convincing uptake.

Twelve months after Microsoft missed the 2006 Holiday shopping season, which traditionally boosts retail sales, Windows Vista is finally in a position to make inroads into the consumer market as it rides into peoples' homes on the backs of new PCs.

As for business programmers, next February's launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 should finally provide the pieces to implement some of those data and information integration, and workflow-based application programming scenarios across Windows servers and the client that Microsoft's been promising for four years.

A year in to Windows Vista, then, and pending the first Service Pack, developers could finally see some kind of incentive for putting their software on Windows Vista.®