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Vista Sales To Take Off...Slowly

While Microsoft will officially deliver the shipping versions of Windows Vista and Office 2007 to business customers on Thursday, many if not most of those same customers will wait for up to a year and a half before deploying the new operating system.

That prediction comes from Roger L. Kay, founder and president of business intelligence analysis firm Endpoint Technologies. Kay’s prognostications are in line with earlier analysis as well.

In a recent commentary entitled "Out of Season for Consumer; Early for Businesses," Kay reported that his mid-November survey of a "handful" of enterprise customers supported the conclusions of other analysts who also describe a slow take off for businesses.

"Enterprise (really, large and midsize businesses, government, educational institutions) tends to be cautious and wait until the OS stabilizes before adopting," Kay wrote, adding, "Six quarters out is when most of these companies are going to be adopting Vista."

The point of Kay’' piece was that consumers typically do not buy new PCs after Christmas when the consumer versions of Vista will become available, and businesses do not simply replace PCs -- or upgrade them-- until after they have had a long and thorough period for testing after the final shipping code is available in the marketplace. Indeed, that has been a historical pattern in both markets, so Kay and other pundits are not likely to be proven wrong this time around.

That is not to say that Kay thinks Vista will be anything like a flop, however. Quite the contrary, in fact.

His analysis sees a proportional growth in consumer (so-called "transactional" customers) sales to the point that, by the end of 2007, virtually all new PCs sold to consumers will come with Vista – beginning with only 25 percent in the first quarter. In contrast, he sees only 20 percent of corporate PCs shipping with Vista in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Still, all told, Kay is predicting that Microsoft will sell around 82 million units of Vista next year. And, as volume customers complete testing and finalize deployment plans, the corporate market will be poised for take off.

"The company can take comfort, then, in the fact that by 2008, Vista adoption will be in full flood, defined as half of all shipments going out the door loaded with the new OS," Kay concluded.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.