JUL-SEP 2007 Vol 3 Issue14





Friday, 13 April 2007 

Microsoft is planning to stop selling the operating system (Windows XP) even though surveys show a lukewarm response to Windows Vista among consumers. Microsoft has confirmed that from 31 January 2008 large PC makers, such as Dell, HP and Toshiba, will no longer be able to buy licences for the software so they can install it on new machines. 

System Shock: Is this a strategy to support the low selling Vista. Should organisations decide what consumers buy? 


There is a vast difference between influencing a purchase decision using ethical methods and forcing a consumer to buy. Forcing a purchase decision by limiting the choice is not a democratic way anyway. It can happen only in a dictatorship, but it is just not acceptable in a free society. 

Often big organizations act as a bully. With their significant clout and the dependence of other players on them they can mould the market to their liking. Microsoft is just trying to do that. 

A poll by US market research firm Harris Interactive found that only 10% of those questioned were planning to upgrade to Vista in the near future.  

Also, Windows Vista sale got off to a slow start compared to Windows XP. Vista sales in US were lesser than Windows XP during their respective launch weeks. NPD released sales figures in February 2007 for software that end users install themselves on a computer. Windows Vista unit sales decreased 58.9 percent in units compared to Windows XP during their respective launch weeks, while revenue decreased 32.1 percent.[1] Now that was alarming news. Vista sales had to pick up and what better way than to restrict options than eliminate XP.  

What is Microsoft trying to do? It has a virtual monopoly in the Operating System market. Windows XP SP2 is doing pretty well. Then what is the need to shelve it. The answer is simple; Microsoft wants the sale of Vista to pick up. It already has extensive arrangements with hardware manufacturers. We may term it a nexus. Microsoft launches a all inclusive OS that needs heavy resources to run, lots of RAM, high capacity hard disk drive, advanced graphic card to name a few. The hardware manufacturers are ready to supply that. Increasing sale of Vista means higher sale of advanced hardware. To add to it, Wirth's law states that software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster. Well, a software getting slower means need for a faster hardware. And that is what exactly the hardware manufactures also want-demand for more hardware. And Microsoft is helping them. Their mutual understanding is forcing the customer to buy a product which he doesn’t want. This is not just about Microsoft; this is about many Big Organizations. 

Microsoft started work on their plans for Windows Vista ("Longhorn") in 2001. Windows Vista was finally released in the market, at the end of January, 2007. It took 5 years during which other competitors had enough time to capture some share of the market.  But this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. The problem isn’t either that Windows Vista under-delivered what it promised. The problem is that there's another OS out there that runs fine on millions of computers around the world. That system is stable, secure, and gets the job done perfectly. It's Windows Vista's biggest competitor and perhaps the only competitor. Perhaps you guessed it right. It's called Windows XP. 

So, how to tackle windows XP? Stop selling it and give licenses only for Vista. This would not bother people with existing PCs. But consumers buying new PCs or laptops will definitely need an OS now and if it has to be from the Windows stable it would undoubtedly be Windows Vista. It has started happening now. Dell on its site offers only Windows Vista with their laptops. Windows XP is nowhere. 

And all this, when the customers are very happy with Window XP. Why would anyone want Windows Vista which is more costlier, a memory hog-even 1 GB of memory is not enough, and does not have third party products to go with it and soon. 

Influencing consumers to buy a product by providing improvements is another thing, but forcing them to buy it is another. Let the consumer decide by itself. But organizations in a hurry to get results, act like how Microsoft has. Microsoft has been in news more often than not for it unethical and shrewd trade practices.

If Consumers are unwilling to give up XP, just force them. This is the mantra that Microsoft is applying and that is entirely unethical and unacceptable 

And as one might say, where there is a BILL there is a way, but that surely is not THE WAY. 



Five years of hard work of thousands of programmers, millions of dollars, a reputation-all this and much more was at stake when Windows Vista was finally launched in January 2007. 

Microsoft also announced the discontinuance of Windows XP, To the skeptics this was a plot. I would say this is what usually happens. Microsoft has a well-established programme that governs the lifecycle of its products. Windows XP’s time has come and it has to go. Every thing has to be discontinued after some time. It is better that Window XP be discontinued before it goes on the downslide. It definitely will happen. Windows Vista is a path breaking OS by Microsoft. It will easily replace XP in the times to come.

People talk about this being unethical. But, not all people are visionaries, not all have the capability to make informed intelligent decisions. Just like a small child, who sometimes has to be forced to consume what is best for him; big organizations with clout try to influence customers to go for a product which they think is good for them.

Big Bullies is what people call them, what of the Big Brother that is in them, trying to place before the customer a better product. People may call it profiteering. But, they should remember, business in the 21st century is not all about profits. Marketing concept has come to the fore and it recognizes the value of maximizing customer satisfaction. Until now, Windows XP was delivering that. Now it’s the turn of Windows Vista to maximize it further. But the consumer may be of the view that the satisfaction that he was getting was the maximum. But, the new product can deliver much more. To break this mirage, he has to be shaken and forced. Microsoft is just doing that. 

More so, Microsoft is not forcing existing consumers having Windows XP to migrate. It is just ensuring that new hardware comes pre-installed with Vista only. And when the consumer is already paying so much for a new piece of hardware, why not go for Vista.

Also, hardware is getting cheaper day by day. The extra RAM, the extra hard disk capacity and other things all come at more or less the same price as when you had purchased your last PC. 

At the end, I would like to say, jus as a lie is held to be an act of goodness when done for the betterment of someone, influencing the buying process is acceptable when it is being applied for the benefit of the customer. 

And I would definitely say, where there is a BILL there is a right way. 



[1] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2095413,00.asp


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