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Like Zune, Like Windows

February 1st, 2007

Just as the Zune was thoroughly hyped and failed to sell well, so goes Windows Vista. In Denver, initial sales have been slow:

Consumers in the metro area are apparently taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Vista – just as experts have advised them to do.

Stores haven’t seen hordes of consumers lining up to buy the new Microsoft operating system.

“We’ve been selling a fair amount. There’s definitely not high demand,” said Jarred Dotterer, warehouse associate at Micro Center at the Denver Tech Center. “We’re not low on stock.”

The same is being reported in Jackson, Mississippi (“Jackson store reports slow sales of Windows Vista”). And Chillicothe, Ohio (“New Windows Vista not breaking any sales records around here”). And San Francisco, California (“No one is lining up for Windows Vista in San Francisco”), where crowds lined up to buy Mac OS 10.4 in 2005.

In fact, sales are slow everywhere; while some stores had even a few dozen people lining up at midnight, sales dropped off after the few eager beavers got their fix. It seems that everyone is realizing that Vista just ain’t all that hot, just like they realized with the Zune. Unlike Steve Jobs, Bill Gates just does not know how to excite the fan base all that much–much less the public in general. Jobs has got everyone in a lather over a cell phone that’ll sell for up to six times as much as Vista, and one can bet that a lot more people will line up to buy OS X 10.5 Leopard when it gets released–despite Apple having only about 1/20th the market that Windows has. (Some suggest that Steve Jobs missed a golden opportunity and should have opened up the Mac OS to work on PCs.)

Factors detracting from Vista sales are, of course, the fact that it is not revolutionary and contains nothing truly exciting, that XP works well enough for most, and that many would have to pop for a new computer to satisfy Vista’s memory- and processor-hog appetites. And even some of its new features are disappointing–like the new-and-“improved” security, which is not only annoyingly intrusive, but also has been hacked and broken already.

What is happening is probably that most people are thinking, “ehh, I’ll just wait ’til I get a new machine, and Vista will be on it then.”

This cannot be good for Microsoft. Behemoth it may be, it is no longer a juggernaut. It has worked for five years to produce a single new version of an operating system, its flagship product, and virtually no one is all that interested in it. It will sell, eventually, if for no reason except that Windows comes on all new PC computers by default.

Some people are even looking at Macs because of Vista–and, factor in my Mac bias as much as you care to, it makes perfect sense, after all: if you’re going to buy a new machine anyway, why not get a Mac? Not only do they cost much closer to PCs nowadays, but they even run Vista if you want ’em to.

Though my school is Windows-centric, the faculty is virtually all Mac now. In addition to myself, three other faculty and staff were already Mac users (myself and one other having recently bought new machines), but three others have switched and bought new Macs recently, and one more is on the verge of getting a nice Macbook. Two of my students just bought Macbooks as well. Now, I’d love to take credit for it all, but most of these switchers did it on the advice of others, though they of course heard my input as well.

Naturally, that’s a microcosm. Hardly a trend. But then again, with Mac market share steadily rising, it is without doubt one small part of a much larger trend.

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