Vista has not been the roaring success Microsoft intended. This is common knowledge. Why? It is a system hog, requiring nearly anyone who wants Vista to upgrade their computer. So upgrading to Vista requires upgrading hardware. This is not 1998 any more. Hardware stays relevant longer and users do not want to have to upgrade hardware with every software upgrade.

Plus, upgrading hardware means major expense for businesses. Not only must they license a copy of Vista for every computer, but they have to buy a new computer for every employee. This is hardly efficient.

At the same time, Microsoft Office is hurting after its Open Office XML (OOXML) proprietary (yes, proprietary, despite the name) was rejected by ISO.

And, perhaps most important, neither Vista nor Office 2007 offer any must-have features or user enhancements. The underpinnings may be improved, but for the end user, particularly the business end user, not much has changed except for some eye candy.

The question is whether Vista’s unimpressiveness, expense, and hardware demands will cause Windows to lose operating system market share. I think the answer has to be yes. Linux is on everyone’s radar these days, especially the large businesses that define market share. For no licensing cost, any company (or any desktop user, for that matter), can get a first-class operating system, suite of office tools, and lots of bonus applications.

So yes, undoubtedly, Windows stands to lose market share. Especially in the corporate worls, and especially to Linux.

How much remains to be seen. Windows is strongly entrenched in the public user base. But families and individuals are hardly the customer base that make or break and operating system. Most people will use what they use at work. If Linux starts to show up in more workplaces, so will it in more homes.

Microsoft knows this, and its recent behavior shows it. For example, Microsoft has tried like hell to get OOXML certified as an open standard by ISO, and failed. It will now either have to adapt and adopt the Open Document Format, or hope that its current users are sufficient to sustain it. They will be, for a while, but the world is moving to open standards, and leaving Microsoft behind. Microsoft has also partnered with Novell in an attempt to capitalize on Novell’s Suse Linux user base.

It seems certain that Vista will not be as popular as XP, and that Linux will, at least partly, take its place.

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