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Vista¿s troubles bode well for the Mac

Windows users are refusing to "upgrade" to Vista.

The latest evidence that Vista has fallen flat on its pretty Aero face has arrived in an announcement from Microsoft that it will continue selling Windows XP due to customer demand for the older OS. Microsoft had planned to stop selling XP as of January 31, but now will sell it until the end of June.

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Earlier this year some PC manufacturers, most notably Dell, started offering XP as an option on many of its new PCs, also because of customer demand. That so many people would prefer a six-year-old operating system over Microsoft's latest and greatest speaks volumes about how badly the folks at Redmond botched Vista. It's a far cry from the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction that greeted Windows 95 a dozen years ago.

At this time last year most industry analysts were predicting that the years-delayed release of Vista (which finally went on sale Jan. 30 of this year) would hurt Mac sales. As it turned out, the opposite happened. The first two quarters of 2007 saw Macs selling at a record pace, with year-over year increases of 30 percent.

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Over the past week analysts who follow Apple have been predicting another record-breaking quarter for the Mac when the company reports its earnings for the quarter ending this week. Most expect Mac sales to exceed 2 million units, far exceeding last quarter's record 1.76 million units.

Instead of stimulating demand for PCs as have previous versions of Windows, Vista has inspired consumers to seek alternatives, and many are looking hard at the Mac. Apple's adoption of Intel chips in 2006, coupled with the wildly successful iPod and the endless hype over the iPhone (keeping the Apple brand at the forefront of consumers' minds) have created ideal conditions for large-scale switching.

Even some well-known long-time advocates of Windows such as Chris Pirillo have bailed on Vista. Not only has Pirillo reverted to XP on his PC, he's been toying with Mac OS X for months. Here's what he had to say on his Web site just today:

Do I recommend Windows Vista? Not a snowball's chance in………..I'm waiting on Apple to release Mac OS X Leopard. As far as I'm concerned at this point, Microsoft is taking a huge hit. The future of Windows, in my opinion, is inside a Virtual Machine or Bootcamp on a Mac.

With Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard due out next month, the public stature of the Mac stands to benefit tremendously from the inevitable Vista vs. Leopard comparisons. Combine that with the height of Christmas shopping season, and we could easily see Mac sales set yet another record next quarter.

Who said the OS wars were over?

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