"Only 15 percent of today's computers are capable of running Windows Vista Home Premium, considered to be the mainstream consumer version, according to Gartner."
So although people buying new PCs from today will probably get Vista, only a minority of us have PCs up to this point that are capable of running the new operating system. Over at John Wilson's blog he adds:
"What's more interesting to me is the notion of launching a product that you immediately preclude 85% of the market from using. Sure, people will upgrade the computer eventually and when they do perhaps it will ship with Vista but that's a long rollout cycle."
"Whilst Vista undoubtedly makes Windows somewhat sexy again, I wonder if this is the moment when MS really stumbles as a consumer product"
"The bottom line is the UI in Vista is certainly different, but not necessarily better or worse than the Windows XP UI. The look and feel are a refreshing update, and will help more novice users navigate their digital world. Experienced users will find the UI equally interesting, but will grumble about having to re-learn some features and adjust how they work with their PCs today."
You should go and read John and Fred's posts, which come at this from a VCs point of view, but it adds weight to my decision to stick with the Windows XP Pro that I've got, even though I'm in the 15% that have 1Gb of RAM and a dual core processor and are Premium (or even Ultimate) capable.
"And I've got to say that this latest leg in the Microsoft/Apple battle bears stunning similarity to the duel (although it is hard to have a duel when one of the participants is already dead) between Sony and Nintendo in the PS3/Wii war, while a story that still needs to be fully played out looks increasingly like the nimble, adaptive, consumer-focused company kicking the crap out of the Grand Dame of Gaming. And I am sure over the ensuing months and years we will see more of this stuff happening, where the more consumer-centric, lighter, friendlier applications will dominate the legacy titans of yesteryear. It is all just beginning, and the first and highest profile casulty may well be Sony, closely followed by Microsoft. Anyway
It's a long post, which you have to go and read, but in his conclusion he suggest that we may be witnessing an historic changing of the guard, and compares the situation with my old firm, IBM, back in the 80s. I can see why he makes the comparison with the complex, red tape filled IBM organisation of that period. However, from the people I've met at Microsoft, I can see a lot of innovation away from their desktop heritage. They may need to slim down to a leaner company like IBM did, but I'm sure they'll still be a significant player in the new era where the web rules rather than the desktop.