For the better part of eight years, the most popular Microsoft operating system hasn’t been its newest. Windows XP, introduced in October 2001, became the de-facto standard of Windows, even after the January 2007 introduction of Windows Vista. Consumers and enterprises alike struggled to justify a move from XP to Vista due to several issues — poor performance, driver support issues and cut features were all a factor. At launch time, computer users struggled to get their hardware working with Vista.
What has all of this meant for Vista adoption rates? The numbers speak for themselves: looking at a proxy measurement of operating systems used to browse web sites, StatCounter shows that the week before Windows 7 launched, the most used operating system is still Windows XP. Even at the ripe old age of eight, XP is still used by roughly three out of every four Windows users. The same challenges have hurt Vista in the enterprise too. A February 2009 Forrester survey alluded that Vista is only powering 10 percent of corporate computers.
Windows 7 is Microsoft’s chance to change these adoption rates, as the anti-Vista. But will it work? In this report, we outline some of the promising signs, but find evidence that netbooks could end up being the Redmond giant’s Achilles heel.