Microsoft’s Operating System Needs Some Rethinking

At least, that is what this looks like to me. This particular computer manufacturer is probably one of the most arrogant and ignorant suppliers I have ever dealt with when it comes to imposing their will on their customers. To actually listen to their customers and roll back their ‘Vista only’ policy to allow people to buy XP with their new computer once again suggests that all is not well with Microsoft’s new operating system to say the least.

Please bear with me while I take a quiet moment to say “I told you so” to the folks at Redmond:

[Taken from] “In a statement last week, Microsoft said such a move (Dell selling the old OS) is normal after a new operating system comes out.

“Windows Vista is safer, easier to use, better connected and more entertaining than any operating system we’ve ever released, and we’re encouraged by the positive customer response we’ve seen to date,” the company said. “It’s standard practice to allow OEMs, retailers and system builders to continue offering the previous version of Windows for a certain period of time after a new version is released.”

I have only two comments to add here. Firstly, this doesn’t explain why Dell stopped selling XP and then started again. Secondly, note the comment :” more entertaining than any operating system we’ve ever released”. Right there is the problem with Vista I think. I don’t buy an operating system to be entertained, not even at home where I’m trying to relax. I buy an operating system because I need one to get things done.

And the entertainment isn’t even very well done. Take Windows DreamScene for example (please someone take it!). The wonderful opportunity of a lifetime to have distracting movies playing on your desktop instead of static wallpaper, for everyone who buys a computer just to load up the desktop and not run a program ever. Erm OK. And better still, as stupid as this idea is, it doesn’t even work properly. Dreamscene crashes so often here that I can only assume it contains, well, an entire vista of bugs.

Also another area of concern for Microsoft should be XBox 360 quality control. This post came from a XBOX / Microsoft advocate, who apparently thinks that the Wii is a joke. At least the Wii works and doesn’t deafen everyone in a half mile radius of ground zero when powered up.

Something is very wrong in Redmond. Everyone should be worried – even Linux advocates (After all, were Windows to disappear then who would you steal your UI interface from? Apple have angry lawyers you know).

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Microsoft Vista Having Some Problems?

Don’t let the spin fool you. Microsoft have agreed to extend the “end of shelf-life” date for Windows XP for another 5 months because people are just not buying into Vista in the way they hoped.

This is an embarassing climb-down for Microsoft, and one that I think has been forced by OEMs and resellers who are worried at slow sales of new hardware. This priceless quote from the head of PC World, a large UK retailler, sums it all up perfectly:

“Gross margins have been materially impacted as a result of increased promotional activity to reduce one-off hardware stock levels that resulted from lower than expected demand for Vista products.”

Bit of a mouthful, but fairly clear anyway: Vista just ain’t selling, and stores are left full of unsold kit that they expected to shift off the back of the Vista release.

Some of you may recall this has cropped up before, with my previous post about Dell taking the decision to start selling XP again after initially shifting their efforts onto selling just Vista systems outlining much of the problems that are just cropping up now. I’ve met very few people who have much good to say about this operating system.

Some of this criticism is undeserved, with a lot of complaints based on believing everything slashdot claims or on an unwillingness to try and learn new things, but there is no doubt that Vista does have problems. Driver support remains erratic, performance is awful in terms of “desktop experience” for the user no matter how well it performs in benchmarks, compatability is a crapshoot, and Linux and OSX just keep looking better and better all the time.

In his excellent book, “In Search of Stupidity”, Merrill Chapman talks about the mistakes IBM made with the release of OS/2. I won’t reprise the entire chapter here because that’s probably illegal and I regard the money I spent on the book as money very well spent so I think you should buy a copy too. But to cut a long story short he talks about the mistakes IBM made that ceded the PC OS market to Microsoft Windows. Let’s see now, he talks about dropping and adding features that offer no obvious advantage to the end-user, horrible delays and re-engineering of the project due to muddy thinking, and a bloated operating system that performed very badly on the hardware that was around when it was first released.

The question is, what will you do when your home computer or your business needs an upgrade. I think everyone who reads the archives on this site can figure out my opinion pretty quickly so I won’t keep repeating it, I’m more interested in what you are going to do. Is Windows Vista the victim of bad press and people who won’t give it a chance, or will it soon have to be renamed “Windows ME harder”? Will Leopard finally herald Apple Mac returning to the “mainstream” PC landscape? Can the Linux community even give away an alternative to Vista?

Whatever happens, it’s pretty clear that a few old established orders are under attack at the moment, and possibly from the worst possible direction too: from within.

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Installed Vista RC1 on My MacBook

So I finally got around to installing Vista RC1 and Office 2007 B2TR on my MacBook. I’ve got some great screenshots in the photo gallery, and it’s looking quite good. There really is some kind of delicious irony in the Apple Mac being one of the best Vista test platforms that I’ve used. For anyone who is interested, here are some videos of UAC and Aero graphics in action on the Mac.

Vista installed easily enough using the lastest beta of Bootcamp, and runs quite well indeed on a MacBook. About the only criticisms I can find so far are that the keyboard mappings could be better (but then any laptop keyboarding is a compromise), and that the Mac touchpad loses the Apple right-click ability (but then support for this was only just added in BootCamp for XP) which is easily fixed by plugging in a mouse. I’m still not sure I actually like Vista, but at least if I’m forced to run it, I know that I can do so easily enough.

Everything seemed quite fast and responsive working with this system, both at the keyboard and over terminal services. Of course you might say “As well it ought to!” when you consider my system specs, but still, we’ve heard FUD about how every single computer on the planet will be rendered obsolete by Vista and in the face of that, it’s nice to see that a computer that wasn’t designed to run any version of Windows will quite happily turn out top notch performance with Vista.

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