No one is lining up for Windows Vista in San Francisco

Checking out Vista

Earlier tonight I attended a Windows Vista launch event in San Francisco and was surprised to find not a single person in line to buy the software less than an hour before launch. CompUSA stayed open late to provide hands-on demonstrations of Microsoft’s new Windows Vista and Office 2007 but for most people I talked to in the store the event was a learning experience and a chance for some special sales and discounts. When I left about 45 minutes before Vista officially went on sale to consumers there were no eager customers ready for launch.

Comparing Vista versions

Potential customers picked up a brochure and examined the packaging to determine which of the eight versions of Vista on display would work best with their home computers. Multimedia was a primary concern as I overheard a few people asking staff members about music, photos, and movies in Windows Vista and computability with existing investments in cameras and printers.

View from the Apple section

The Apple section was also busy with people checking out the latest Intel-based hardware and cross-platform options using Boot Camp or Parallels. Windows options on the Mac are a safety net, letting people unfamiliar with compatibility across different versions of Windows experiment with a new operating system without completely leaving their old ways behind.

Alex Smith, 49ers QB

Free food in and an outdoor barbeque attracted a few local homeless, and football fans came out to see San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

Crowd shot

The level of consumer excitement around the launch of Windows Vista was nowhere near the experience of 200+ people lining up for the latest copy of Mac OS X (Tiger) two years ago. I expected at least some Windows fans battling it out to be the first person to buy Vista at midnight but there was little excitement and no line in sight.

You can check out my 22 photos taken at tonight’s Windows Vista Ultimate Celebration on Flickr.


Commentary on "No one is lining up for Windows Vista in San Francisco":

  1. CC on wrote:

    It does not surprise me, all hardcore Windows users have probably been using it since its first phase release last year. I for one have been impressed by the many new features. As an agnostic (I use OS X at home, and Vista at work) I feel like the gap has closed considerably between the two.

  2. Robert Dewey on wrote:

    I think a lot of people are either sticking with Windows XP until their next PC upgrade in three years, or switching over to Mac.

    Mac really seems to be appealing to the high-school-aged crowd, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next 5-10 years.

  3. Jeremy Zawodny on wrote:

    This is the funniest post you’ve written in quite some time.

  4. John C. Randolph on wrote:

    I just have to wonder what kind of response they’d have gotten if MS had actually succeeded in shipping Longhorn.


  5. Shawn on wrote:

    I live in a town of about 100,000 in the midwest US, and both local Walmart Supercenters were sold out of all copies of Vista by 8 a.m. this morning. They went on shelves at midnight at both locations.

  6. Zaine Ridling on wrote:

    Same here in Chicago. I visited several stores from 10a-3p and the shelves are full of Vista boxes with few mulling around the hard drive and keyboard aisles. Vista may well replace ‘George Bush’ under the miserable failure search term on Google!

  7. Matthew on wrote:

    Love it. Sold out in the MW, but MS throws a party on the Coasts and no one shows.

  8. OM on wrote:

    Vista is a nice upgrade for those people who even want an upgrade.

    I think people are comfortable uploading music to an MP3 player (thanks to iTunes or other software), transferring pictures from a digital camera and manipulating them or emailing them (thanks to Picasa from Google), browsing the web comfortably (thanks to Mozilla), etc.

    But the majority of people are not comfortable upgrading their operating system. The thing with Apple is that since the inception of OS X the core of their OS hasn’t changed much. They made such an amazing product that they keep making more amazing every couple of years. Microsoft completely changes their OS every 5 years making people weary of the change, thus making them wait until they buy a new system to upgrade.

    And even after that, they’re usually not too happy with the extreme learning curve. I’m curious how many people must have been lost by Microsoft simply moving the upper right side Programs menu under the start menu in Windows 2000 to All Programs right above the start menu on XP? Or eiminating the desktop icons (My Computer, Internet Explorer, etc) as a default.

    People don’t like change THAT much. It needs to be a gradual thing, then you’ll attract the early adopters. I’m a geek, a systems admin, and a graphic designer by trade. But I’m not going to upgrade to Vista. If people were to ask why, I’d say because I’ve grown content with my Windows XP machine and it’s hiccups but I use my Mac Book Pro as my everyday driver.


  9. Mark 2000 on wrote:

    I live in SF as well and this isn’t really fair to Windows. SF is a Mac stronghold. Every cafe is at least 50% Mac. People in SF usually only use a win platform if work demands it. Don’t expect this from the rest of the country by a long shot.

  10. John Griffiths on wrote:

    I’d say it’s a shame they knocked down the feature set so much. Better to release a good product at first, rather than a slightly good product just to fend off pressure.

    Nothing against Microsoft, some of their products are the best in the market; but i wish they would have at least stuck with their game plan rather than bow to market pressure.

    They’re a big company and so could have survived a bit of hardship if the goal was worth it.

    Now you’ve got a load of people who were once loyal to your product looking at a hefty price tag and bad reviews, not good PR. Better to nurture your customers rather than take the rug out from under them.

    I’m looking forward to Apple’s Leopard, primarily because of the self-healing ZFS file system they’re putting in; never again a corrupt file.

  11. joe c on wrote:

    Oh, fair my Aunt Petunia. The world is 90%+ Windows.

    It’s just that Windows is not by and large something people get excited over like Macs. A lot of people only use it because they feel they have to. It’s like a hammer: hammers are all over the place, people use them all the time, and it’s just a tool. But then people that are really into tools show off this really cool hammer, with a well-designed handle and grip, perfect heft and balance, a really cool claw that pulls up nails better than regular hammers. Most people couldn’t care less, but once you get to try one of those puppies out you’re hooked.

  12. Hal on wrote:

    Baton Rouge — visited the local Office Depot and found the shelves full of Vista boxes (about 100) with plenty of Vista PCs in stock. XP? Two left over computers and two upgrade packages. Looks like Vista is moving slowly.

  13. Bill Streeter on wrote:

    I got a chance to test out Vista recently and I kinda dug it. It’s nicer than XP for sure (I use a mac at home and a Win machine at work).

    But I gotta wonder what the marketing strategy is behind 8 DIFFERENT VERSIONS of Vista. WTF is that? Nothing like clutter, confusion, and complexity to scare away customers. How about releasing 1 or 2 versions? Apple has 2 versions of their OS one for desktops and one for servers. If you aren’t running a server you know which to get–simple. They don’t even market their server OS to consumers at all. So they effectively have one OS. It’s software for gods sake! It’s not like it costs more to ship one version of the OS with all the features available.

    Yeah MS is on a roll.

  14. Muk on wrote:

    well vista is good but, seem to be lots of problem with it.. most of the hardware dont have the driver for vista yet… I had a problem with Printer driver and some of the software wont run in Vista, so i’m just gona wait till they have all the driver and stuff a yr more or some.. oh one more thing.. after u install vista it wont let u go back to xp or anything.. U have to Format the hard drive to do that..