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Windows 7: Why did customers not migrate to Vista?

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I have been reading  Brian Madden‘s perspectives regarding Windows 7, the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and the uplift in adoption that VDI and desktop hypervisors will experience due to the draft created by Windows 7 migration. 

I was asking myself, “Why is the Windows 7 migration such a big deal?” Windows 7 is after all an incremental release of Windows Vista. The fact of the matter is that customers did not migrate to Vista over the past two years and continue to run on XP even today. A significant majority of customers have shied away from migrating from XP to Vista on their existing computer hardware because of driver compatibility between XP and Vista – drivers written for XP may not work with Vista, they may have to be rewritten. has posted Microsoft internal email unsealed by a federal judge that provides a historical insight into Windows Vista’s hardware and software compatibility problems. It reports that compatibility problems turned Mike Nash’s (Corporate VP, Windows Product Management)  $2,100 PC into nothing more than an “email machine”. Steve Sinofsky, (Senior VP for Windows) admits to Microsoft’s lack of clarity and focus around setting and managing the expectations of hardware device vendors

We need to be clearer with industry and we need to decide what we will do and do that well and 100% and not just do a little of everything which leaves the IHV [Independent Hardware Vendors] in a confused state.

The primary causes for the incompatibilities are

  1. Vista supports a new audio/video driver model due to a massive change in the underpinnings for audio/video between XP and Vista.
  2. Vista enforces a new security model for device drivers

As a result, many XP drivers, across the board for printers, scanners, wan, accessories (fingerprint readers, smart cards, tv tuners), and so on, don’t run under Vista and their devices  become unusable. There seems to be little incentive for  device manufacturers to design, develop, test and support brand new drivers for “legacy” XP devices on Vista. Here are the 10 most common hardware problems that may be encountered by a Vista user.

The migration experience with Vista was so poor that Microsoft took the unprecedented step of providing a downgrade path to Windows XP.

Written by paule1s

April 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm

One Response

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  1. […] The migration from Vista to Windows 7 should be smooth since the latter is an incremental release of the former.  However, the migration from XP to Windows 7 poses some of the same structural challenges outlined in my earlier post. […]

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