Channel Watch

A Fast Start for Windows 7

If you're rooting for Microsoft, there's encouraging news this year that the backsliding is coming to a stop.

A year ago, I argued in this space that Microsoft was losing market share on the Windows desktop and in the browser market with a dizzying speed that threatened the whole Microsoft business model.

At the time, Microsoft had scrubbed off so much momentum with Windows Vista that it was losing serious share to Apple -- Windows had fallen below 90 percent in share of the desktop operating system market. The story was similar, but worse, on the browser side, where Internet Explorer lost 10 points of share through 2008 to close at 68 percent.

However, if you're rooting for Microsoft, as many Microsoft partners are, there's encouraging news this year that the backsliding is coming to a stop.

According to Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net, which records information from Internet visitors to build usage statistics, IE didn't do particularly well in 2009. The browser had fallen to 63 percent by Firefox's fifth anniversary on Nov. 10. How's Firefox doing? One in four Internet users is browsing with it.

But IE's slide appears not to have been as fast in 2009 as it was in 2008, though we'll have to wait for full-year data to come in to know for sure. What's more encouraging for Microsoft -- and what could also save IE's bacon -- is that Windows 7 is a hit.

According to Net, Windows 7 broke 5 percent market share in daily tracking in both November and early December. The OS, which made its debut Oct. 22, also averaged more than 4 percent usage through November, Net found. By comparison, it took Windows Vista seven months to get beyond 4 percent usage share.

The share is coming from OSes that Microsoft would like to retire or see diminish. In November, Windows XP lost 1.43 percent of market share, Vista lost 0.28 percent and all Mac versions lost 0.15 percent. Even Apple's Mac guy/Windows guy ads have lost much of their punch in the Windows 7 era.

Meanwhile, Windows users who abandoned IE for Firefox or Google Chrome will have another opportunity to come back into the IE fold when they upgrade to Windows 7 or buy new Windows 7-based systems.

Barring any real issues with Windows 7 -- questionable black-screen-of-death flaps aside -- Microsoft has put itself and its partners back in position to start reversing the gains that competitors were making against Redmond.

What are you hearing and seeing? Are customers more enthusiastic about Windows 7, even if they're not adopting it yet? Are they more open to Windows 7 than they were to Vista? Is Windows 7 having an impact on your business? Let me know at [email protected].

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.