Microsoft is understandably touting its new Windows Vista operating system with as many superlatives as they can fit in a sentence but the response from consumers seems to be rather muted so far. Half a billion in marketing dollars can certainly make a flashy entrance but for all the publicity generated in the weeks leading to its 30th January release date, there hasn't exactly been the kind of maniacal rush that we had witnessed when tech gadgets like the new Sony PlayStation 3 were initially released.
There wasn't even a decent queue of any sort when CompUSA organized a midnight launch in the US , a somewhat disappointing turnout compared to the success of previous versions of Windows. Similarly in Singapore, there was no hint of a queue when we turned up for the official launch , in stark contrast with the Windows XP launch here in 2001, which saw shoppers queuing for up to six hours to get their hands on it. It seems that despite the massive publicity promoting Vista's new features, the public is not biting yet.
So what seems to be holding back the public from embracing the latest (and as Microsoft would obviously have you believe, the greatest operating system) from the software giant? Well, the details are starting to emerge after the official launch and we are now getting some early sales data from market research firms. The anecdotal accounts we mentioned earlier about lackluster retail sales turned out to be quite accurate, as sales of boxed copies of Windows Vista were significantly less than Windows XP for the first week. Overall, a Internet research firm has estimated that Vista currently holds almost 1% market share , compared to 84.3% for Windows XP so while these are early days yet, there is a considerable amount of catch up needed for the newcomer to reach the dominant status of its predecessor.
What was particularly interesting about the figures was the significant boost in the number of new PCs (preinstalled with Windows Vista) sold in the first week of release. As the analyst in the article suggest, retail copies of Windows Vista may not have taken off in the big way Microsoft expected , but that could be because consumers are opting to purchase new PCs with Windows Vista instead of upgrading their operating systems.
While there could be a number of reasons for the lower sales of Windows Vista boxes, the higher sticker price of the enthusiast oriented Ultimate Edition (US$399) for instance, one of the reasons could be that consumers are taking the opportunity to get a new PC, either because they have been holding off their purchases in anticipation of Windows Vista or they have reviewed their old PCs and found them lacking in terms of hardware. No doubt, Windows Vista has upped the ante considerably in terms of hardware, especially if one intends to enjoy the new fancy Aero interface that Microsoft has constantly reminded us of.
So how would your ageing systems perform when upgraded to Windows Vista? Would you be better off continuing with an existing operating system like Windows XP? To answer these questions and more, we have configured three systems that span the performance spectrum from an Athlon XP to the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processor. But before we see how they fare running Windows Vista, let's first review the 'minimum' system requirements listed by Microsoft.