Deconstructing Windows Vista, Part 3

Dennis Faas's picture

...continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

Every year Microsoft introduces the "latest technology", bent on revolutionizing computers or their software. Anyone who's familiar with Microsoft is naturally suspicious when "new" technology is introduced -- and for good reason.

Web TV, Microsoft TV and WinCE smartphones, Xbox, various versions of Media Center PCs, Watches, Media2go, Xbox 360, and the Zune (to name a few) are all products that either went away rapidly or lost billions of dollars. This year it's Windows Vista, Longhorn Server and a new Computer Table called "Surface" with a hefty price tag that runs Vista. Coincidentally, it's also been in development for 6 years.

The Vista Vaudeville

At a recent University of Virginia training session, Mark Minasi, a well known, highly respected Windows expert poked fun at Vista and Microsoft: "In 2007, you can now buy Vista, put it on a laptop, and make it look like a 2001 Mac," he quipped. The first time he saw Vista, recalled Minasi, he thought, "it looks like Windows XP with a Fisher Price interface." He joked that there are search bars found throughout Vista, "because Microsoft is lost too."

He called the software's installation procedure "spouse mode install," because the process involves "... 300 windows that pop up and ask you to click OK to proceed. Soon you just keep clicking and clicking, OK, OK, until the machine stops asking you to, no longer paying attention to what is being asked."

Minasi also shared plenty of serious insights, such as noting that Microsoft's main competitor for Vista is not Linux or Apple OS X -- but Windows XP SP2 (the newest version of Vista's predecessor, Windows XP, released in 2004.) He also observed, "I don't know anyone who is excited about supporting Vista." (Source:

The latest marketing ploy is a series of "fact rich" fact sheets directed towards home and business users with a byline of "proceed with confidence". It offers convenient little tidbits such as Windows Vista had fewer vulnerabilities than Windows XP in its first 90 days and such. Maybe that's because there aren't that many people using it? Thankfully, they haven't (at least not yet) quoted any of the information from their sponsored studies and surveys.

Numerous consumers may be waiting for Vista Service Pack 1 to arrive, which is reportedly due in beta by year end. In typical Microsoft fashion though, it probably won't be ready until next year.

Smoke Signals

It's becoming blatantly obvious that Microsoft is losing its lead in the technology industry. If you want people to "proceed with confidence", then make a product that's reliable, cost effective, and easy for the consumer to use. Quit blowing smoke up everyone's butt and make a product that gives people confidence.

Windows XP is used by approximately 90% of computer users. It's a stable product that's been around for 5 plus years until the advent of Vista. It works well, rarely crashes, and again, there is very little that Vista does that can't be done with other third party software.

Ironically, official support for XP ends in January 2008. However, XP Service Pack 3 will be rolled out sometime in the middle of next year.

What's wrong with this picture?

I'm almost willing to bet that before the end of this year, there will be such an outcry at the end of support and possibly a class action lawsuit (or 2) that Microsoft will continue to support it as usual. If not, you'll be able to continue to get support and fixes until 2014 -- but only if you're willing to pay for it.

After June 30, 2007 Office 2003 will be yanked from OEMs. I don't know too many people who are going to rush out to get Office 2007 when there are similar versions to Office 2003 available elsewhere. Some are even free. In my opinion, trying to coerce consumers into getting the "latest and greatest" is an excellent way to lose business.

Hopefully Microsoft will start listening to their customers again while they still can.

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