Windows XP to be discontinued in early 2008

Vista is safer, easier to use, better connected, and more entertaining, Microsoft says

Microsoft has reported that more than 20 million copies of Vista shipped from January 30 to February 28, the first month of general availability. A Harris survey of home-based users in March, however, found that only 12 percent of the 2,223 respondents planned to upgrade.

There are pluses and minuses to upgrading, according to analyst Michael Cherry, of Directions on Microsoft. Security features, such as BitLocker Drive Encryption , are driving upgrades, he said. However, hardware issues have been a problem, Cherry said.

"The major factor I think that's putting a damper on it is people being uncomfortable with what the hardware requirements are," said Cherry. Questions have arisen about configuration matters such as the circuitry of graphics cards, he said. Lawsuits have even arisen about what it means to be Vista-capable, Cherry added.

Although Cherry said he did not have specific estimates on Vista shipments, he said Vista appears to have not affected PC sales rates, either upward or downward.

Vista shipments have been about as expected, said analyst Brett Waldman of IDC, who also acknowledged equipment issues with the new platform. Shipment levels so far are similar to what XP presented, he said.

To run Vista's Aero interfaces requires an advanced graphics card, Waldman said. A lot of low-end PCs do not have that, he said. Otherwise, upgrading a PC to 1GB of memory should make it Vista-capable, said Waldman.

Microsoft's decision to cancel XP shipments was "what we expect," Waldman said. Business customers, however, are putting Vista upgrades on hold.

"They're waiting 12 to 18 months to evaluate it," said Waldman.

The upcoming Windows Server Longhorn platform, meanwhile, is looking good, Cherry said. "It's very stable," he said.

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