Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Leopard Rises from XP's Ashes

Windows XP officially exits the OEM and retail channels after today. Let the Leopard and Vista competition really begin.

Windows XP won't completely go away, but it will be increasingly more difficult to find, and that could be very good for Apple. Because if computer buyers don't want Windows Vista, they'll have to look elsewhere. Can you say Mac OS X 10.5?

Here's the no-nonsense explanation about XP availability:

  • Today is the last day OEMs can offer Windows XP PCs.
  • System builders, which buy the software from distributors, can ship XP PCs through the end of January.
  • OEMs can offer XP as a "downgrade" option for PCs shipping with Vista Business or Ultimate, but usually at extra cost.
  • OEMs can still ship Windows XP Home on ultralow-powered notebooks like the Asus Eee PC.
  • Businesses buying Microsoft software through some volume-licensing programs can use "downgrade" rights to reimage Vista PCs with Windows XP.

XP's exit from OEM and retail channels comes at a time when Vista isn't doing so well. Microsoft boasts 150 million Vista licenses shipped, but the number loses its impact in the context of PC shipments.

Between Jan. 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008, PC manufacturers shipped approximately 342 million PCs worldwide, according to published Gartner figures. However, the figures include x86 servers. Being as generous as possible to Microsoft, I lop off 42 million units, to account for x86 servers and computer sales during the first 29 days of January 2007, when Vista wasn't yet available on new PCs.

That works out to about 300 million PCs during the same time Microsoft shipped 140 million Vista licenses. Typically, Microsoft sells about 80 percent of Windows licenses on new PCs. Being, again, generous to Microsoft, I figure 112 million Vista licenses. Based on this arguably loose estimate, Windows Vista shipped on about 37 percent of the 300 million PCs. I strongly suspect that one-third would be a more accurate number.More>>