Gates Inadvertently Reveals Windows Vista's Dirty Secret

Dennis Faas's picture

While in Las Vegas this past weekend, Gates boasted that Microsoft has served more than 100 million copies of Windows Vista since the OS was launched to consumers last January.

At first 100 million sounds impressive, but in fact it indicates that Microsoft's once dominant grip on the operating system is loosening. Based on what Gates said, Windows Vista was only on 39% of PCs that shipped in 2007.

Statements at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) by Bill Gates this week show that Windows Vista is proving far less popular with new PC buyers than Windows XP did during its first year in the market.  Windows XP captured about 67% during its first year compared to Windows Vista which captured just 39%. (Source:

In terms of units shipped, Vista only marginally outperformed first year sales of Windows XP according to Gates' numbers, despite the fact that the PC market has almost doubled in size since XP launched in late 2001. At CES 2003, Gates said Windows XP sold more than 89 million copies according to a Microsoft record of the event.

As noted by Information Week, assuming Gates is using consistent measurements across time -- and any failure to do so would raise questions about Microsoft's reporting tactics -- Vista's first year unit sales exceeded first year XP unit sales by a little more than 10%.

Windows XP was launched in October 2001; Information from Gartner Dataquest shows worldwide PC shipments in 2002 totaled 132.4 million units.

Windows Vista was launched to consumers in January 2007; Gartner shows worldwide PC shipments will total 255.7 million units when the final tallies are in.

According to Gates' statements at the 2003 and the 2008 Consumer Electronics Shows, Vista captured less than half of new PC shipments in 2007.

Resource requirements and older application compatibility still causes users and businesses to shun Windows Vista. New desktop alternatives such as Apple's Leopard OS, Ubuntu and other Linux distributors may also play a role in impacting Windows Vista acceptance.

It would be interesting to see how many of the 100 million units of Vista served have ended up being returned or upgraded to Windows XP.

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