A petition to “Save Windows XP” has drawn more than 111,000 supporters — and continued shots across the Microsoft XP vs. Vista bow, a battle that began with Vista’s release last year.
The operating system succeeded XP, which came on the market in October 2001. Despite Vista’s much-improved security measures, it has met with criticism and some reluctance by consumers and businesses that don’t want to make the switch. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Among the concerns about Vista are the amount of computer memory and space it requires, its seemingly slower speed and frustration over the fact that third-party drivers for some printers and other devices are still not available from the companies that make those devices.
InfoWorld, a publication that covers the information technology industry, launched a “Save Windows XP” petition drive in January. Microsoft originally planned to stop selling XP to retailers and computer manufacturers at the end of 2007, but extended that deadline to this June 30.
The company will continue to provide mainstream tech support for XP users until April 2009, and will provide “extended” tech support for patches and security updates through April 2014.
XP also will be available for sale until Jan. 31, 2009, by “system builders,” small businesses that custom-build “white box,” or generic, PCs.
Galen Gruman, executive editor of InfoWorld, said the petition drive was partly the result of his talks over the past year with companies’ chief technology officers and IT managers. Most were unenthusiastic about moving from XP to Vista, and found “no compelling reason” to do so, he said.
“We kept hearing, ‘We don’t really want to do it; we don’t really see the benefit; we don’t really want to spend the money on new hardware to run the stuff and train our staff on a new interface.’”
‘Deep anxiety’ about Vista
In a recent article about the “Save XP” drive, Gruman wrote that “in Vista’s first year, InfoWorld detected a deep anxiety over Vista among technologists and consumers alike. … We have not criticized Microsoft’s XP support plans. We have criticized Microsoft for ending the availability of XP on new machines past the June 30 end-of-sales date. ... It does you no good to have XP support if you can’t get XP on a new system.”
Microsoft representatives have “declined to meet with us at this point,” Gruman said in an interview.
Kevin Kutz, senior director for the company’s Windows product management group, said in a statement that Microsoft is aware of the petition drive.
The company, he said, continues “to be guided by feedback we hear from partners and customers about what makes sense based on their needs. That’s what informed our decision to extend the availability of XP initially, and what will continue to guide us.”
In May 2007, XP had 82.25 percent of the OS market — and Vista, which was still a newcomer, had 3.75 percent, said Net Applications, which measures the market share of operating systems. As of last month, XP had 73.59 percent of the operating system market, and Vista had 14.02 percent.
“Windows Vista has been dogged by the traditional early adopter barriers ... yet the product is ramping toward a normal adoption curve,” IDC Research said in a recent report, subtitled “Windows Vista Momentum Picks Up Steam.”
“The death of Windows Vista has been greatly exaggerated,” the IDC report said. The operating system has “compelling features for consumers and for business users. These features will see acceptance — and potentially love — over the longer term.”
Vista accounted for 36 percent of consumer sales and 18 percent of business sales of Microsoft operating system products in 2007, IDC said. Consumer sales were 2 percent higher than the firm projected before Vista’s release, and business sales, 4 percent less than projected.
Getting flamed for pro-Vista views
J. Peter Bruzzese, who writes a blog for InfoWorld, took an opposing stance to that of editor Gruman, and found himself getting flamed aplenty for his pro-Vista views.
“Some were cursing so badly, I had to remove the comments,” said Bruzzese, a tech consultant and author of several books, including “Tricks of the Microsoft Windows Vista Masters.”
“We all know when we have a bad operating system. When Windows Millennium edition came out (in 2000), I got it, and within a week, I’d uninstalled it,” he said. “It was awful. It was the worst OS I’d ever worked on.”
If Vista “gets a long enough life cycle, it will not be remembered like Millennium Edition,” he said.
“Vista will live long enough for people to start seeing the stability, seeing the drivers, seeing their applications work, and so they’re going to forget some of the anger as time goes on, the way they do with all of the operating systems.”
That life cycle is looking somewhat shorter than XP’s. Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates said recently that the new version of Windows’ operating software, code-named Windows 7, will be released “sometime in the next year or so.”
In the meantime, the company is facing a class-action lawsuit in federal court over the way it advertised computers sold with XP as being capable of running Vista.
The suit says that the labeling of some PCs as “Windows Vista Capable” was misleading because many of the computers were not powerful enough to run all of Vista’s features.
Seeing promising signs
Gruman, of InfoWorld, says he’ll continue the petition drive “until XP is off the market. At that point, you gotta ask yourself, does it matter anymore?”
He said Microsoft has “done a couple of things lately that makes us think they might actually change their minds, or stretch the date.”
Among them, the company said earlier this month it will keep selling a version of XP for use on new, low-cost computers, such as Intel’s Classmate PC, through at least June 2010. Such computers are designed mainly for word processing, e-mail and Web surfing.
“While originally intended for students and other first-time PC customers in emerging markets, we’re now seeing interest in these affordable devices in developed countries as well,” Michael Dix, Microsoft’s general manager of Windows Client Product Management, said in an interview on the company’s Web site.
“So here’s two cases where basically the hardware won’t support Vista, and Microsoft blinked on those two,” said Gruman.
“If you follow that logic, if it’s good enough for poor people, why couldn’t middle-class people get it? It’s sort of nuts.
“They have made those two compromises. So, we’ve got some hope that, given our signatures, given the comments you see elsewhere on the Web, given what we hear privately from retailers that customers don’t like Vista, that maybe Microsoft will get the message” and extend the deadline for XP’s retail deadline, Gruman said.