XP > Vista… is Microsoft in Trouble?

We are seeing many posts in forums and blogs lately about people’s dislike for Vista. In fact, ComputerWorld reported that Microsoft System Builder team had to RTM Windows XP SP2c to replenish the dwindling XP product activation keys. After being submitted to Digg, user feedback on this subject is frequent and passionate, as can be seen here.

But if you look a little deeper at the feedback and the published numbers, you can see a pattern. As vocal as the users are who would prefer to stick with XP, according to Microsoft, they are only a small number. Sure the Vista/XP breakdown shows that MS did not expect such stickiness from XP, but this merely shows that there are plenty of people who dislike Vista, but perfectly willing to stay on XP– the rampant reports of MS defectors are actually only a small subset of the Vista haters, the rest are still sticking with Microsoft.

But is Vista really that foul? I propose that the reason some think XP is better than Vista is that the users are still unfamiliar with the more advanced features introduced in Vista. At the core, Vista is not really all that different than XP. Combing through the user reviews and feedback, it is pretty evident that the majority of the users who dislike Vista boil down their preference over XP because of:

  • Vista’s higher requirement of resources / XP feels peppier
  • UAC that is introduced in Vista.
  • The new UI’s minor deviation from the Classic and XP menus.

So is XP really better than Vista? At this point, maybe. Many users are still unfamiliar with Vista, so sticking with XP if you need to be productive is a good idea. But are the above problems going to become Vista’s Achilles’ Heel? I don’t think so.

These purported shortcomings within Vista can actually all be tweaked, either through obscure menus or via the registry. How easy would it be for Microsoft to “fix” these user complaints? Easy as pie. With a simple update release, they can really introduce a UI picker which allow you to switch Vista’s appearance to completely mimic XP’s. And the resource requirement/speed? Aero can easily be disabled and classic menus be used, but many users prefer the prettier UI and complain about speed. With the speed at which faster hardware is being introduced, I do not believe we will be hearing a lot of complaint about Vista being a dog in speed.

So which OS do I use?

Hmmm that’s probably both. I have recently upgraded my XP Media Center PC to Vista. My personal desktop is a XP/Vista dual boot. I have an old Dell 600m running Ubuntu Studio which stays at home and another laptop that I bring around to work and visit client that is still on XP. Most of the VMs that I am running are Debian/Ubuntu based, but there are some that are based on Redhat/CentOS.

Which OS do I use more? at this point, probably still XP. But that’s because I haven’t rebooted my desktop in 3 months (gotta love Hibernate) and I have 20 windows open in XP. Do I hate using Vista? Not at all. At this stage in the computing life, most of my time is spent in Firefox and PuTTY, and they both run fine on either OS– in fact, they both run fine in Linux. Do I have a preference which one I use these apps in? Nope.

I can see why normal users would prefer to stick with XP at this point, but I believe this is due to the fear of the unknown. Vista can easily be tweaked to conform to most users’ tastes, but it’s easier to complain and stick with the familiar. If push comes to shove, Microsoft can easily tweak Vista for the users with a released update.  As the situation stands however, an XP user or a Vista user, you are still a Microsoft user.  Most bloggers/users now think the desktop game is Vista vs. OSX, but fail to realize that it’s actually Vista+XP vs. OSX vs. 100’s of flavors of Linux, with Vista+XP’s market share at 90+%.  Can Microsoft afford to lose some market share?  Most definitely, and here’s to hope that Leopard and Ubuntu can make the market more competitive, as cheaper and better OS’s all around can only benefit us users.

But Vista becoming Microsoft’s downfall? Only if Microsoft wills it.


4 thoughts on “XP > Vista… is Microsoft in Trouble?

  1. Microsoft got some real work to do before coming up with Vista’s first service pack. I reckon we will all have a definite answer if Vista doesn’t improve after Service Pack 1 install. Right now, it just doesn’t cut it; I hope (for the sake of M$) that it pleases me after SP1 upgrade. If not, Ubuntu is already working well for me.

  2. one reason people are sticking with XP is reported problems with some hardware. Older peripherals are not supported yet and may not be so until they are replaced or drivers become available some people need an alternative. This happened when XP came out and will happen again when the next Windows comes out.

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