Why The Skepticism On Microsoft Vista?

| About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

This just in: Vista is launching to consumers and the Web is buzzing with worries over how to upgrade (and whether those worries are legit), stories about demand and primers on killer apps and pitfalls. One common thread: Folks are pretty damn skeptical about Vista.

And it's not just Apple fans–who will tell you that Vista is an OS X wannabe. Here's an inventory of the skeptic crowd: CIOs who have no inclination to upgrade; consumers who are perfectly happy with XP; and analysts who don't see a big Vista bang. Even Microsoft's financial outlook factors in a so-so Vista pop.

The contrarian in me leads me to one conclusion: Vista will be better than expected, be well received and boost demand. The logic goes something like this: Companies love to UPOD (under promise and over deliver) so everyone is lowballing projections. If Vista was the clunker everyone seems to think it is maybe it shouldn't have launched.

Is Vista a quantum leap? Probably not. But it's an improvement over XP. If word spreads about some feature that geeks aren't focused on–say better management of digital content–and poof you have demand.

If my hunch is correct and Vista actually shows a little spark we could quickly be writing about hardware supply issues. After all, PC manufacturers seem to be putting their dollars behind their skepticism.

Pacific Crest analyst Brendan Barnicle said in a research note that OEMs have been cutting back on their component orders for Vista PCs. Barnicle gives the following reasons for the demand slowdown:

  • PC makers think Vista PCs cost too much
  • Retailers don't think Vista demand will be strong
  • Manufacturers are already saddled with inventory of components such as graphics cards
  • Barnicle said:

    "Although Vista is an improvement over Windows XP, we have been skeptical that it would drive consumer demand. The commentary from the PC supply chain provides another reason to be skeptical about near-term outperformance from Vista."

    There's that word again–skeptical. I'm a little less skeptical for one simple reason. Techies have been talking to themselves about Vista for more than a year. Consumers and businesses will be the ultimate arbiter of Vista success and they haven't even weighed in yet.

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