In the context of the imminent Vista SP1

Windows 7 dropping in late 2009 is one factor that can decisively contribute to the outcome of the Windows Vista and Windows XP equation. The fact of the matter is that the inherent question is if Windows 7 is made available as at the end of 2009, in just under two years, should users ride Windows XP Service Pack 3 for all it’s got to offer, and entirely skip Windows Vista? This even in the context of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Back in July 2007, Microsoft made a small concession to its Software Assurance customers and opened up a tad on the future of Windows.

“Microsoft is scoping Windows 7 development to a three-year timeframe, and then the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar. In the meantime, Microsoft is dedicated to helping customers deploy and get the most business value from their PCs using Windows Vista (…)”, a Microsoft representative stated at that time. A three-year timeframe means by 2009, considering that Vista was released to manufacturing and to business customers in November 2006, or by 2010 taking into consideration the commercial launch of the latest Windows client.

Microsoft’s position on the matter is that ignoring Vista is ignoring the inevitable. But the now short period of time that separates Vista SP1 and XP SP3 from Windows 7 will provide additional incentive to loyal XP users to stick with what they got and know for two more years. In early 2008, Microsoft is preparing to release both Vista SP1 and XP SP3. Concomitantly, the Redmond company has already began serving the first bits of Windows 7, namely Milestone 1, to key partners. Windows 7 beta 1 is in fact expected in early 2009, just one year away.

According to the latest figures produced by Microsoft, Vista has grown its install base to over 100 million users worldwide. The figure corresponds to market share statistics provided by Net Applications, that put Vista at 10.48% and XP at 76.91%. With over 260 million PCs estimated to ship in 2008, the vast majority of which pre-loaded with the latest Windows client, and with with the end of availability via the retail and OEM channels for XP come summer, Vista’s share of the operating system market will only increase. It remains to be seen whether the influx of new Vista users, armed with SP1, will be able to convert those loyal to XP away from XP SP3, ahead of Windows 7.

[Via Softpedia News]