Nearly a year after its launch, Windows 7 has accomplished what Microsoft and its PC manufacturing partners had hoped it would: Make users forget about its much-maligned predecessor Vista. In fact, customer satisfaction among personal computer users is at or near all-time highs, according to a new report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
The ACSI is an economic indicator based on customer evaluations of the quality of goods and services bought in the U.S. Founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, the Index is updated quarterly and factors in scores from more than 225 companies in 45 industries, and from government agencies.
Thank You, Win 7
On the ACSI's 0-to-100 scale, customer satisfaction with PCs jumped 4 percent to 78, matching an all-time industry high. No Windows-based machines declined in popularity, a factor the ACSI attributes to the industry's migration from Windows Vista to Windows 7 late last year.
"Windows-based PC brands appear to have recovered from the problems associated with the Windows Vista software," said ACSI founder Claes Fornell in a statement. "Barely a year into the release of Windows 7, satisfaction with these brands has returned to, and in some cases even surpassed, the levels prior to the launch of Vista."
Among the leading Windows PC makers, Dell's score rose 3 percent, while Acer (including Gateway and eMachines) and Hewlett-Packard's HP brand improved 4 percent. All three companies had a three-way tie at 77, which was 9 points behind customer-favorite Apple.
Apple, not surprisingly, leads the computer pack in customer contentment. (PCWorld's annual Reliability and Service survey routinely gets a very positive response from Apple users too.) Cupertino's rating rose 2 percent this year to 86--its highest tally ever. This marks the seventh straight year that Apple has topped all PC makers.
Customer Support: Bad Juju
While PC manufacturers are on the right track, their service lags far behind that of other durable goods industries, the ACSI reports. And when consumers must contact customer support after buying a PC, they're 8-percent less satisfied than those who didn't have to.