It's a story that has an almost viral quality: Did Microsoft last week really advise customers to skip Windows Vista, its current beleaguered desktop OS? As it turns out, it did—with some qualifications. But before Mac and Linux backers begin their victory laps, it's time to put what Microsoft said in perspective: The company is merely suggesting that some customers might want to skip Vista. And it's suggesting that they do so in order to move to Windows 7 instead.

"Microsoft is finally telling you what I've been telling you all along: Vista is junk," one particularly vitriolic Linux site has inaccurately claimed. "The Microsoft executive in charge of Windows urged some companies this week to dump Vista deployment plans," another, slightly more measured report read.

Here's what really happened. During last week's keynote address at the TechEd 2009 conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte said that corporate customers who had just started exploring a Vista deployment (i.e., weren't yet in the process of doing so) should hold off and wait for Windows 7, which he said Microsoft would ship in time for the holiday season.

"If you're deploying Windows Vista ... you can utilize that," he said. "\[But\] if you're just starting your testing of Vista, I would switch over and do your testing on the \[Windows 7\] release candidate, and use that going forward."

It's not so controversial when you read the actual statement, is it?