Microsoft knows you are ready for Vista, like it or not. Microsoftis telling PC manufacturers they will no longer be able to install Windows XP; instead Vista will be only desktop Windows available to OEMs.
Although it's not unusual for Microsoft to push hard for their customers to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, this time they may need to take more care with their customer's feelings. Although Windows still dominates the operating system market, Appleis now a name that most users are comfortable with bothfrom iPods and from iTunes. There are also several Linux distributions working very hard to be easy for non-IT savvy folks. People do have alternatives, more than any time since Windows 95 pulled the rug out from under IBM's OS/2 Warp.
There are a lot of folks that still want to keep XP around, and Dell has a post on the Direct2Dell blog assuaging its customer base. "Dell recognizes the needs of small business customers and understands that more time is needed to transition to a new operating system." Small business and home officeusers are less likely to have an IT team to help smooth the inevitable bumps in the upgrade process, and when your billing system or customer contact database is running on software that's not certain to be compatible with Vista, there is a strong incentive to leave things as they are. Of course, in my experience eventually these machines are left in the corner and will break downeventually – then it's next to impossible to support them. Unfortunatelythat is a fact of life for most small businesses: IT is pain to be avoided as much as possible, and budgets are not big enough to prepare for disaster recovery (or even keeping hardware under support contracts).
There is also rampant speculation that this is the last "real" Microsoftoperating system and that AJAX based web services, cloud based operating system or some other alternative will take the profitability out of selling a general purposedesktop operating system. As Microsoft spends more time on releases, they are certainly leaving the door open to the competition. The question is if anyone will be able to take the reins – or even be able to make Microsoft anything other than the dominating force in the operating system market it is today.