Business PC Buyers Pick Windows XP Over Vista

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Microsoft’s claims about strong sales of Windows Vista for the enterprise may not be
true, if statistics from Devil Mountain Software, a perennial thorn in the Redmond, Wash.
software giant’s side, are true.

According to Devil Mountain Software, about 35 percent of more than 3,000 business
computer users worldwide who have installed its DMS Clarity Tracker Agent in their
Windows PCs to collect information about their PCs have downgraded from Windows Vista to
Windows XP.

Devil Mountain Software is collecting the data to “create as large a repository as
possible of real time metrics data from Windows PCs all over the world — who’s running
what and how it’s performing,” company Chief Technical Officer Craig Barth told

In response to questions, a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) spokesperson downplayed the issue
in an e-mail to “The study monitors only a very small sample
from an unknown number of sources,” the spokesperson said.

“These users are not necessarily representative of Windows Vista users as a

The spokesperson also said downgrading is not an issue. “Per our longstanding practice
allowing ‘downgrade’ rights, enterprise customers and purchasers of Windows Vista
Ultimate or Windows Vista Business editions can choose to downgrade to Windows XP
Professional if they feel they need more time to get ready for Windows Vista,” the
spokesperson said.

An enterprise “may downgrade in the short term but with an eye toward upgrading
later.” According to the spokesperson, the right to download is “part of our standard
licensing agreement,” and not a loophole.

XP still rules

Microsoft discontinued sales of XP
on January 30, but extended the expiration date to June 30 for most PC manufacturers and
retailers after protests from customers. Still, it refuses to die.

Here’s how Devil Mountain Software came to its conclusion: Data collected about the
PCs was checked by manufacturer and model number against vendors’ Websites to determine
what operating system was pre-loaded. Only PCs from major vendors such as Hewlett-Packard
(HP) (NYSE: HPQ) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) provided such information, Barth said.

“We found that 65 percent of the boxes pre-loaded with Vista were still running it,
and the rest were running Windows XP,” Barth said. HP and Dell did not respond to
requests for comment by press time.

A quick check of the Website of CDW, a major reseller of computer equipment to
enterprises, showed that several HP Compaq PCs are
being offered with Vista Business with an option to downgrade to Windows XP Pro. These
include items in the 27xx, the 65xx, the 67xx, the 68xx, the 69xx series, and the 85xx

The site also had several Lenovo ThinkPad models offered with Windows XP Pro.

Asked why some of the users of PCs polled by Devil Mountain Software’s application
switched to XP, Barth said that they “either manually wiped the drive and installed XP or
paid the vendor to uninstall Vista and install XP. It blows you away that people will pay
not to have the default operating system,” Barth added.

Users who downloaded and installed the DMS Clarity Tracker Agent are “likely to be
enterprise users who are technically savvy,” Barth said. “Getting metrics about your PC
is not the kind of thing grandma would want to do.”

What happened to Microsoft’s claims that Vista’s selling well, then? After all,
Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner said at the company’s annual financial
analysts meeting in July 2007 that it had shipped 60 million copies of Windows Vista.
Microsoft itself had rolled out 100,000 seats, he said.

And the Microsoft spokesperson said today that the company has sold more than 180
million Windows Vista licenses since the product was launched. The sales were calculated
through the end of June, when XP was still available to retailers and OEMs, according to
the spokesperson.

“Contrary to the recent Devil Mountain Software Survey…Windows Vista momentum is
getting stronger and stronger,” the Microsoft spokesperson said. The spokesperson cited a
CDW poll saying that Vista is gaining traction among businesses.

Nowhere in the report is there anything relating to sales of Windows Vista Business or
Windows Vista Ultimate, licenses for both of which include downgrade rights, according to
the Microsoft spokesperson.

Devil Mountain Software remains confident in its numbers. “The great thing is that
nobody can lie about our numbers,” Barth said. “The machines automatically report what
they’re running and how burdened they are.”

Article courtesy of

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