Microsoft Drops, Google and Apple Climb in Latest ACSI Satisfaction Study

The ACSI study for the second quarter of this year indicates an increasing frustration of users with Windows Vista. Users mostly complain about poor usability, compatibility problems, slower performance compared to Windows XP and substantial hardware requirements. The dissatisfaction with Vista also affected most major Windows-PC vendors. Apple continues to improve its reputation while Google and Yahoo lead the e-business satisfaction index.

The Q2 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan brought more bad news for Microsoft with some data about the satisfaction of American consumers with the company’s latest operating system.

The survey revealed a growing frustration with Windows-based PCs and the computer industry in general, as only Google, Apple and Yahoo were able to increase their ACSI rating. Customer satisfaction index for PCs dropped to 74 points. It fell for the second year in a row and wiped out gains that were made since 2005. Windows-based PC vendors Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, and Compaq declined to 73, 72 and 70 points, respectively. Dell was able to climb by 1 percent to 75 points.

Microsoft by itself was listed with 69 points, compared to 71 points for all software manufacturers ranked by the organization.

ACSI’s Claes Fornell believes that the release of Windows Vista may have contributed to the drop of many PC vendors. "Customers have complained about usability of the new system, sluggish processing speeds and problems of software compatibility, while hardware requirements have led to complaints about price," he said. Users of older machines who felt compelled to upgrade to Vista could have also contributed to the drop.

Apple was one of the big winners in this latest ACSI study. A gain of 8 percent lifted Apple to a total of 85 points. According to the ACSI, Apple’s 10 point lead over its closest rival is one of the largest gaps in customer satisfaction in any industry covered. "It’s hard not to be impressed with Apple," Fornell said. "This is product extension at its best where the new products, iPod and iPhone, are helping bring new customers to existing computer products. The fact that Apple is not dependent on the Windows Vista operating system hasn’t hurt either," he said.

In contrast to the computer industry, other technology and e-business categories surged by almost 6 percent to a record high of 79.3 points. The growth was driven by Google’s all-time high of 86 points (a 10 percent gain). Yahoo fell 3 percent and is now listed with 77 points. In comparison, Microsoft’s MSN is ranked with 75 and AOL with 69 points.