Windows Vista has not been the best release for Microsoft, plain and simple. Sure, sales have done relatively well, but never before has there been such dissatisfaction on the part of consumers, and most sales came from pre-installations on new PCs. Many customers are apparently trying to hold onto Windows XP, the previous version.
In one of many troubling problems facing Microsoft, users do not see enough value in Vista to upgrade. The new features are mediocre, it is more expensive than Windows XP, and comes in six different versions, all seemingly focused on limitations rather than features. Microsoft is also said to be halting XP sales on June 30, likely to make many customers unhappy, and bring them to disliking Microsoft more and more.
Even more troubling, Apple is creeping up behind Microsoft in market share. Some estimates place Apple Mac OS X market share at around 10%. Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, are also a problem, since they are often free to obtain and install, and are becoming ever easier for average users to use. These problems are creating a big problem for Microsoft.
One thing is clear: the next version of Microsoft Windows will be a crucial one.
For one thing, Microsoft must release their next version within the next two years. Vista took 5 years to develop, and convienently gave the competition 5 years to fight against the software giant. Five years is a long time, and allowed for Windows XP to become to de-facto standard. Now, they are faced with tougher competition, and reluctant customers to upgrade to the new system.
The next version of Windows, often called Windows 7, has been rumored to be a modular system, one that can be modified for a particular purpose. Modularity is needed, mainly because Windows is becoming too large and as a result has become ever slower.
Microsoft often fights against Linux through a war of words because they cannot offer a product of comparable price, and Open Source Software challenges the traditional value of software. For this reason, Microsoft needs to release the next version of Windows for cheaper than offered before. The current price is expensive, and to get a good version can cost a considerable amount of money, often too much than the average user would want to spend.
The next release is crucial. If this next release of Windows flops, then what will leave the door open for competition for another 2-3 years. Windows will not disappear from the market, although in my opinion, it may become a minority in the desktop market in the next decade if Microsoft does not change their ways, and focus on the consumer rather than the bottom line.
Personally, I’ll stick with Ubuntu. Microsoft can do what they want. Now, I think they are beginning to feel the consequences for their previous actions, and will hopefully learn from them to make things better for their consumers.