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Vista Market Share On Steady Growth Curve

Windows Vista is gaining market share and is poised to become the second-most popular OS, surpassing Apple's Mac OS X.

Windows Vista, Microsoft's beleaguered OS, finally has some good news surrounding it: it's gaining market share, and is poised to become the second-most popular OS, surpassing Apple's Mac OS X.

According to the latest figures by research firm NetApplications, Vista's market share has increased from 0.18 percent -- where it stood at January's commercial release -- to 4.52 percent in June. That slow but steady growth curve means it should outstrip OS X, which currently has about 6 percent of the market, sometime this Fall.

The study compares three Microsoft OSes -- Windows XP, Vista and Windows 2000 -- and both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. Of those five, only Vista showed positive growth. Intel Mac had been trending upward, but suffered a slight drop in June, which has to be worrisome for Apple, since its decision to drop Intel processors into its machines, thereby making them more compatible with Windows, was a key part of its strategy to increase market share.

XP still dominates the landscape, with slightly less than 82 percent of the market. That's down from a high of 85.3 percent in December 2006. Windows 2000 has 4 percent of the market, and the "other" category, the majority of which is presumably various flavors of Linux desktop, comes in last at about 3.5 percent.

In the meantime, any bit of good news regarding Vista has to be a welcome relief to Microsoft. The OS is under the gun on several fronts:

  • Microsoft recently revised its FY 2008 sales forecasts, announcing that it expects Vista to sell fewer units than predicted, and XP sales to remain strong.
  • Confusion surrounds the release of Vista SP1. A beta release was expected last week, but it never happened. Microsoft stated previously that it would likely release SP1 early next year, in part because it will include changes to desktop search technology following complaints by competitors.
  • Vista still suffers from compatibility problems, particularly with business applications.
  • Dell recently did an about-face and agreed to start offering XP again on computers, in response to "customer demand."
  • In a story that first appeared in Financial Times Deutschland, Acer President Gianfranco Lanci was quoted as saying "The whole industry is disappointed with Windows Vista." Lanci was also quoted as saying that the Vista launch has had the smallest impact on PC sales of any version of Windows in the history of PC manufacturing, and that the situation didn't look likely to change in the next six months. He continued his attack, saying that Vista "stability is certainly a problem." That the president of the world's fourth-largest PC maker would bite the hand that feeds him is seen as significant.

Still, despite those problems, Vista use is increasing. But even that can be attributed largely to the fact that OEMs have pre-loaded Vista on most of their new computers, leading to the conclusion that market share increases aren't due to customer demand for the OS.

It's getting more and more difficult to find silver linings with Vista these days.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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