Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tracking Service Pack Adoption – XP vs. Vista

One of the items we like to track within the exo.repository is the adoption rate for new OS service packs. The results serve as a kind of customer satisfaction survey for each new version of Windows.

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For example, when we take a look at Windows Vista, over the past 4 months the adoption rate for Service Pack 1 (i.e. the percentage of users with SP1 installed vs. the overall Vista installed base) grew from 69% at the end of April to over 86% by the end of July.

Figure 1 – SP1 vs. SP3 Adoption Rates 

By contrast, the adoption rate for Windows XP Service Pack 3 has been far less robust. In April, just 34% of users had deployed Service Pack 3 (or the beta version). And in July, that number had crept up to only 47% – less than half of the user base.

These numbers tell us two things:

  1. There was tremendous pent-up demand for Vista SP1, either due to customer dissatisfaction with the product or because users were convinced of its benefits from all of the media hype surrounding its release.

  2. No similar demand existed for Windows XP Service Pack 3, most likely because, overall, the majority of users are quite happy with Windows XP + Service Pack 2 (we found just a handful of users still running Service Pack 1).

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For Example, we’re finding that some of the IT organizations we work with on our commercial side – specifically, those in the financial services and investment banking sectors - are planning to address their need for more workstation memory capacity by deploying the 64-bit version of Windows XP, a platform to which Service Pack 3 doesn’t apply (the x64 edition of XP uses the Windows Server 2003 code base).

Regardless, what seems clear from these numbers is that Microsoft’s customers felt Windows Vista was in urgent need of a Service Pack 12-18 months after it was released, while those still using Windows XP were relatively happy with the platform and in no rush to patch it.