In the first 100 days of sales Windows Vista has shifted almost 40 million units — 78% of which were premium editions; sounds impressive doesn’t it! Bill Gates thanked the consumers’ shift to a digital lifestyle. Gates claimed this to be twice the take-up rate of Windows XP. The keynote in Los Angeles also served as an opportunity to drop names. Windows Server ‘Longhorn’ will officially be named Windows Server 2008. It was also announced that Gateway, Lacie, and Medion are building products to run Windows Home Server which is expected to launch later this year.

It goes without saying that this 40 million-unit figure and claim of twice XP’s take-up rate is going to be questioned (isn’t everything Bill says?).

Now, 40 million copies in 100 days sounds more credible than the previous claim of 20 million copies in 30 days — a large proportion of which were in the form of upgrade coupons ($1.1 billion of revenue was deferred from the previous quarter to account for this). A large proportion of the 20 million licences sold in the last two months will not equate to 20 million copies deployed. OEM providers buy up large numbers of licences and, to Microsoft, these count as ‘sold’; they may not get out into circulation for quite some time as many large PC builders are still shipping PC’s with Windows XP due to consumer demand.

It could be said that directly comparing sales of Windows Vista with Windows XP (post launch) is pointless. Of course sales should be twice that of XP — twice as many PC’s are sold now when compared to the time of Windows XP’s launch! Seeing as consumers have waited for five years to see the release of Windows Vista (compared to only two years for Windows XP after ME) I would have thought they would be even more eager to get hold of a copy!

I have predominantly switched to Mac, but of course I still constantly have to work with applications that require Windows. I have both Windows Vista and XP and can run either one as a virtual machine or standalone via tri-boot; so which version do I find myself using most often?

I find all of the eye-candy put on show by Windows Vista very pretty — at risk of being lynched by hardcore Apple fans, I would even venture to say it makes OS X look dated! However the large install footprint, patchy support of specialist applications and sluggishness while running as a virtual machine, all mean that I rarely bother to boot Vista despite its pretty face. Windows XP will happily install and run on a virtual machine with only 256 MB of RAM and 8 GB of disk space. It will run all of the applications I need and it runs so smoothly that I can switch to full screen and forget that it’s not native! To offset Windows XP’s habit of falling sick (malware, spyware, trojans — you name it), I keep a clean snapshot to hand and never save important data within the VM. If it starts behaving erratically or shows any sign of a malware infection I simply scrap it and roll back to the clean snapshot. The additional 8 GB of disk space taken up by the snapshot is a small price to pay for the time saved in trying to clean out an infected system.

I think ultimately it’s irrelevant whether or not Windows Vista becomes the huge success Microsoft are trying to tell people it is. They have already announced that the successor to Vista is expected to launch in 2009. With such a short shelf life, Windows Vista simply looks prettier than its predecessor and fills a sales gap much in the same way Windows ME did before the launch of Windows XP.

On the lighter side of life, I found a funny article on which claims only 244 genuine copies of Windows Vista were sold in China in the two weeks after launch. Microsoft of course responded by dismissing these claims but refused to release any figures of their own (why?). I would hardly be surprised if these figures were somewhat close to accurate — a genuine copy of Vista would cost the average Chinese person two months wages. Copies of Vista can be brought for $1 on almost any street corner (regardless of how rich or poor you might be) and the Chinese government doesn’t exactly have a track record of enforcing international copyrights… Hmm.