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Can you imagine if the adoption of Microsoft’s Vista matched the amount of discussion it has generated just in the past year? Not one computer in the world would be left without it.

But, alas, Vista remains stalled in the market, and solution providers say they don’t expect to see that change any time soon, even as Microsoft keeps busy sending out patches and fixes.

If you have used Vista, you already know why that is happening. Not one person I know who has made the switch from Windows XP has anything good to say about it. The first user I know took the plunge last spring and immediately regretted it. It’s no wonder, then, that so many users have returned to XP.

My own use of it is limited. I switch to Vista on my MacBook through the Parallels application when I am accessing the Ziff Davis Enterprise online publishing system. When Vista launches, I get these visions of having to crank a Model T to get it going, though I suspect the Model T fired up faster. It gives me an opportunity to get a cup of coffee or catch up on my voice mail.

My Vista pain is mild, but users that have no choice of operating system have to contend with one that is too slow, too different, and doesn’t play well with a whole host of applications. In some cases, migrating to Vista requires rewriting entire custom applications, a necessity that strikes many as unreasonable.

This month’s cover story in eWEEK Strategic Partner, a sister publication of Channel Insider, explains in-depth why Vista has failed to win the hearts of the average user and of IT managers in the corporate world.

In the story, writer Joe Wilcox lays out the reasons Vista has stalled:

–Hardware demands are too great.

–There are too many application compatibility problems.

–Windows XP is good enough.

–Vista is too much trouble for the limited benefits over XP.

–The operating system and supporting ecosystem aren’t ready.

–Service Pack 1 is worth waiting for.

The story also explains that system sales are healthy despite, not because of, Vista’s hardware demands. Predictions at the time of Vista’s release a year ago that it would drive hardware sales in a major way have not exactly been fulfilled.

If anything, say analysts, what’s driving system sales is a general move to notebook computers from desktops.

Desktops won’t be entirely replaced, but the laptop will reign supreme. More and more companies will be embracing telecommuting going forward to keep overheads and energy costs down.

Vista has been a big disappointment. And if the channel had been relying solely on the operating system for profit and revenue growth in 2007, it would be feeling a lot of pain right about now. Thankfully, the move toward services and solution sales, and the adoption of technologies such as virtualization and IP-based video and voice, have kept the channel humming along.

How much that will change in 2008 remains to be seen. When asked about profit drivers for the coming year, solution providers hardly ever mention Vista. And at the enterprise level, the conventional wisdom now is that corporate migrations originally scheduled for 2008 will be delayed another year.

Vista still carries an aura of inevitability. At some point, the reasoning goes, users will have no choice but to adopt it. But with so many users switching back to XP, one starts to wonder.