One Measure of Vista’s Adoption Problem

Jules recently posted about her web stats. They tell her, among many other things, that she still has one or more readers who are still on Windows 3.1 (originally released on March 18, 1992). I thought I’d check the stats for this site for the same very, very late adopter. No such luck–the oldest visitors that my Google Analytics account shows are on Windows 95 (two of them in the last month, as it happens).

Then I thought to check what percentage of Windows users are using Vista, and what fraction is still on Windows XP. Windows Vista was released a little over two years ago, on January 30, 2007. It has, as I’m sure you’re well aware, been plagued by criticism. I know many XP users who will skip Vista entirely, moving straight to Windows 7 (as of yet, it has no slicker name).

I checked this site, as well as a client’s site (they’re in the software industry). I compared Windows XP and Vista usage for January, 2008 and January, 2009. Here’s what I found:

For this site, as a percentage of all visitors on Windows:

  XP Vista
January, 2008 80% 15%
January, 2009 66% 31%

For a client site, as a percentage of all visitors on Windows:

  XP Vista
January, 2008 81% 13%
January, 2009 74% 21%

Those numbers don’t add up to 100% because there’s a fraction of users on Windows 2000, NT, CE, 98, 95, ME and so forth.

I checked a couple of other sites, and the numbers look more like my client’s site than my own. Vista usage floats around the 25% mark for January, 2009. What should the adoption rate look like? I really have no idea. Microsoft surely hoped that a majority of their users would be on Windows Vista by the time they released Windows 7.


  1. I use Windows XP and Mac OS X. I will continue to avoid Vista. It’s not much different than ME, really, in terms of being a porcelain floater.

    I am not a fan at all of Microsoft’s new fondness for different levels or editions of Windows. More attempts to suck money out of your wallet with an inferior product.

    It really says something when downgrades to XP are considered a feature.

    The only reason Windows is still around is because so many people are using it. It has momentum, not unlike a boulder crashing down a mountain.

    If Mac hardware were more affordable, then more people would be using it. That being said, more and more people are using the Mac. It’s more reliable and always has been.

    If Windows 7 is as big of a turd as Vista was, expect the sales of Macs to go up. I think I’d be investing in Apple a while before that. 🙂

    I’d like to see Apple take advantage of the situation though.

  2. I purposefully switched to Mac in order to avoid Vista. Now I’ve got the best of both worlds … I run Mac OS X and Windows XP using Parallels. I won’t likely ever switch back. Vista drove me away.

  3. “Microsoft surely hoped that a majority of their users would be on Windows Vista by the time they released Windows 7.”

    I doubt that, because Microsoft knows how the industry works: the vast majority of new-OS usage comes from two things. Those are new PC purchases and business volume licensing. Retail purchases of new versions or upgrades of Windows are in the 5% range. Most individuals and many businesses never upgrade until they buy a new PC that has a newer OS installed, or have a company-wide rollout of a volume license.

    Even if everyone who bought a new Windows PC in the past two years got Vista — which was unlikely, since PC makers wouldn’t switch instantly, and it turned out XP was still an option people wanted — that still wouldn’t bring a majority of users to the new OS. Remember that there was a SIX YEAR span between the release of XP and Vista, so there is a huge momentum of older, and even relatively new, PCs running XP. The cycle between Vista and Win7 will be less than three years, by contrast.

    And businesses are far slower to test, plan for, and implement major OS changes than individuals. Given that Win7 has the same technical underpinnings as Vista, many of them may opt to go straight to Win7, since driver and software conflicts are far less likely between Vista and 7 than between XP and either one — but they’re likely to wait even longer if so, especially in a crappy economy.

    Finally, modern operating systems, whether Mac OS X or Windows or Ubuntu or whatever, do most of what people need regardless of whether you use the latest version, and modern personal computers (even netbooks) are plenty fast for what most people want to accomplish. If it reads email, surfs the web, and runs Flash, you’re probably good.

    Okay, I’m all over the map here, but the fundamental thing is that yes, Windows Vista got a bad rap for various reasons, some valid and some not. But even though that probably slowed adoption, I doubt that slowing actually has a huge effect on how many Vista users there are out there — the percentages might be slightly higher if it had been a runaway “hit,” but probably only by a few points. Most of the slowness of the shift comes from there being way, way more computer users than there used to be, and many years for XP to become entrenched while Microsoft twiddled away on building Vista. I’m sure there’s an effect of faster Mac market share growth too.

    I doubt Windows 7 numbers will rocket up massively in two years, even if it continues the positive buzz it has already. Come back and we’ll see if I’m right.

  4. I just purchased a new laptop for my wife this weekend. Had been planning to get her it for her birthday in June, but feared the model I wanted (Running XP) would no longer be for sale, so I went for an XP Valentine rather than a June Vista.

    Do plan to skip Vista entirely. Would happily try a mac if the prices were not such a joke.

    TheOnion sums up this Mac view of mine nicely:

  5. The only reason I run vista on my main computer now is because I bought a new computer. There’s no way I would have “upgraded” otherwise. I’m yearning to fix my laptop so I can go back to XP (well, without paying for and/or pirating it.)

    We still run XP on all the work machines, too… to the point where my boss is buying a couple of new computers and re-using our old XP licenses on them when they come in. (Legally, the old machines will be most likely chucked or otherwise not using their old licenses.)

    So freaking tired of being asked every 30 seconds if I meant to do what I just did. Screw you, Vista.

  6. FTW, I recently purchased a new laptop with Vista-64, but have parked that one at work. (Vista was just came with the laptop, not a deliberate choice.) My home laptop has XP and home is where I have the time to visit your site.

    I doubt this representative of that many users, but, perhaps a small number?

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