So how many people are using Vista?
It is impossible to say for certain. There are plenty of figures being thrown around, but many of them are based on speculation and people’s limited personal experiences.
The first major figure based on actual facts came from the InfoWorld website, which runs a project called Windows Sentinel. This involves computer users installing tracking software which monitors their PC’s performance and tells them about potential problems. The project then gathers together data from all the participants to build up an overall picture of how well different Windows set-ups report.
The team behind the project recently looked at this data and found that around 35% of the computers they would expect to be running Vista were actually running another system, suggesting the users had ‘downgraded’. If that figure held true for everyone, only around 117 million of the 180 million Vista ‘owners’ would actually be running the system.
However, there are some serious limitations on this data. The 35% figure likely includes people who’ve switched to Microsoft’s server products or even Linux (though of course they’d still not be using Vista). It’s based on a small sample group (the project only involves 3,000 total computers). And most significantly, it only involves people who’ve joined the project, meaning it’s likely to be biased towards people with a particular interest in technology and PC performance – exactly the people most likely to go through the hassle of changing their operating systems.
The only truly accurate way to measure Vista use would be by analyzing the figures from the monthly Windows Update process, which will be able to measure what system is running on almost every Windows compute. The problem is that only Microsoft has access to these figures, and they likely won’t release them unless they tell a positive story.