The Vista launch was accompanied by a veritable tidal wave of infomertials and trivial pap from the (so-called) technology and IT journalists who write for the mainstream Australian media outlets. At first the Tech and IT pages were stuffed with little fillers and puff-pieces about Vista Sales, new Vista products, etc, etc. No doubt the general populace was under the impression that everything was just peaches and cream with the great Vista Roll-out, as Vista set sail like the Titanic on her maiden voyage.
However, not all the mainstream press around the world was gushing with enthusiasm about Vista. For example, the New York Times, probably the main most of mainstream broadsheets, did run the occasional article hinting that possibly everything was not as rosy as one would hope with Team Redmond.
David Pogue, who posts the techo blog for the NY Times, reported in January 2007, that Microsoft had offered to lend brand spanking new Acer Ferrari laptops (worth over $2000 USD) to many prominent bloggers in the US, so that they could evaluate windows Vista. Apparently, after the evaluation they could do whatever they wanted with the laptop. The news had been all over the Blogosphere for three weeks by the time David Pogue reported on it, however it was a sign that some of the criticism was beginning to leak into (and from) the mainstream.
As the year progressed many more cracks began appearing in the Vista monolith. In the second half of 2007 some journo-techs and retailers began to express the opinion that real sales of Vista were lower than expected.
In Australia, The Bleeding Edge (published in The Age Green Guide) seemed to be extremely underwhelmed by Windows Vista. And they seem to have remained so, to the present day.
Everywhere anecdotal evidence was pouring in that Vista had failed to capture a sizable market share. This was coming from webmasters who monitor the statistics of visitors to their sites.
Across the Pacific, NY Times journos such as Steve Lohr, and Randall Stross, continued to shine the hot harsh glare of mainstream scrutiny on Microsoft and Vista. On the 9th of March 2007, Randall Stross published his article "They Criticised Vista. And They Should Know", in which he reported that some of the early Vista critics actually worked for Microsoft. The scandal of the Microsoft internal mails has lead to legal action and may eventually cost Microsoft dearly.
Many others, including, dear reader, your own humble blogger, joined in the criticism. At long last, on April Fool's Day 2008, I had my hands on encounter with Microsoft's extremely large new flagship. And I was not impressed. In fact I can't recall being so unimpressed about a software release since Windows 95.
Later in the first half of 2008, it was revealed that even Microsoft's ally, Intel would not be rolling out Vista in-house.
Meanwhile, I would receive regular updates of visitor stats from Bondi-based webmaster Brian Robson, who manages several websites in our own Little Apple, (including bondivillage.com etc). Brian reported that Vista's market share, had initially risen, and then, ominously for Microsoft, plateaued in March 2008.
In June, Brian informed me that Vista's figures had gone negative.
Like the RMS Titanic, almost a hundred years ago, it seems that Vista has struck a hard, deep-chilled iceberg.
It is the iceberg of Consumer Resistance. And despite the vast sums of money spent on persuading them to buy something they obviously don't want, consumers are still saying No. Microsoft seems to have failed in their attempt to ram Vista down their unwilling throats.
Although the construction of the mighty ill-fated liner, Titanic, by White Star Lines was a massive project in it's day, the total cost may only have matched Vista's advertising budget. In the case of Vista, a vast vertically integrated global marketing machine continues pumping out thousands of copies of Vista per week. Despite the enormity of the budget they have not delivered a working product after six years. There is no sign of embarrassment at Redmond about this, or at least not officially as the huge machine clanks onwards. And there is not much mention of the fact that Ubuntu can deliver working upgrades monthly with a budget that more closely resembles that of the local parish knitting group.
And so, this month it transpires that the number of people removing Vista now exceeds the number of new copies constantly flooding the market, on new computers.
Like the unlucky Titanic before her, SS Vista is now sinking.
The huge marketing effort has, in effect, been like a tax on consumers. Since most of the large manufacturers and chain stores will not sell a computer without an operating system, consumers have purchased Vista with their new computer (and paid for the Operating System, which is bundled with the hardware). Then, they have paid (or begged) someone to remove Vista and install XP. Depending on who performed the removal operation, the consumer has ended up with an "XP upgrade" or a pirated version of XP.
Actually, I think if anyone put it to the test, it might be illegal for one of these stores to insist that they can bundle the Operating System with the hardware. In the USA there is anti-trust legislation which (in theory) should prevent this. In Australia there is the ACCC which, if they did their job, should also prevent such anti-competitive behaviour.
This does raise a couple of interesting questions:
Is the downward slump in market share real or an artifact? It could be temporary glitch caused by Microsoft officially pulling the plug on XP. The XP cutoff may have stampeded users into replacing Vista while they still can. Or is it a genuine trend that will continue unabated?
When will the general public discover Ubuntu? If they ever do, then a lot of software manufacturers are going to be in trouble.