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Why Windows 7 Will Be a Success, Whether Good or Not

BallmerWin7 Windows 7 hasn’t even arrived yet but the speculation started: What’s wrong with Windows 7.  To be fair, the speculation is fueled by an unlikely source: Steve Ballmer himself.  He is trying to manage a potential fallout by warning us:

“’The test feedback (on Windows 7) has been good, but the test feedback on Vista was good,’ Ballmer, 53, said in an interview last week. ‘I am optimistic, but the proof will be in the pudding.’”

Indeed. But I actually think Windows 7 does not even have to be good to be a success (and my readers know I am not exactly a MS-fan). Here’s why:

  • Vista was such a disaster, that everyone will be happy to escape it.  Says Walt Mossberg: In just two weeks, on Oct. 22, Microsoft’s long operating-system nightmare will be over.  Yes, we’ll be happy to leave that nightmare behind, even if we got raped in the process (had to pay ransom to get out of a failed OS)
  • Those who avoided Vista (smart decision), and that includes most of Corporate IT  are on a good but ancient WinXP, which will be phased out eventually, so the only choice is to go ahead with Windows 7.

In other words, this OS does not have to be particularly good.  This is it, the World will adopt it.  And if it turns out to be another dud (which I doubt)  well, we will have a few years to ponder why keep on buying software ( and that includes Office and more) from a company that hasn’t been able to produce a decent OS in a decade.

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Oh, No – Yet Another Windows Release?

Two years ago I wrote: Windows Seven in 2010. Does Anyone Still Care?

I simply don’t get it: Vista is barely out, nobody seems to like it, CIO’s refuse to upgrade, analyst firms tell them to wait, individual users who tried it switch back to XP, others time their new PC purchase so they can still get an XP machine – generally speaking Vista was as poorly received as the ill-fated Windows ME.

Apple is gaining market share, the major computer manufacturers are offering Linux PC’s, the Web OS concept is getting popular, applications are already on the Web – can anyone clearly see the shape of personal computing in 2012? (Yes, I know MS plans for 2010, I’m just adding the customary delay.) Will it still matter what OS we use to get on the Internet? How can Microsoft be so out of touch?

I was right and I was wrong.  Right in the assessment, but not foreseeing that Vista would turn out to be such a disaster, that Microsoft would be better off releasing its final version under a new name:

Make no mistake, the accelerated move to Windows 7 is a marketing decision, not a technical one. Vista became such a disaster that Microsoft finally realized no amount of marketing can save it: it was better the abandon the shipwreck and start with a clean slate, a “new” Windows product.

And so it happened, and millions of Vista victims end up paying the ransom to get out of the trap and get the version of the OS that actually works: Windows 7.  Which means by late 2009, but mostly 2010 we’ll be where we were supposed to be in 2007.   But now, as people count down the days till they can escape Vista and upgrade to Windows 7, Mary-Jo Foley who is always amongst the first to scoop out Microsoft’s plans is already talking about Windows 8, as early as 2011 or 2012.

It’s almost like Microsoft got infiltrated by secret agents who plot to alienate most of their customers.  Because it’s hard to imagine why on Earth we would need yet-another operating system.  Windows is not an application, it’s a friggin’ operating system whose job is to get us into applications and get out of the way. Assuming Win7 finally works, MS should leave us alone licking our Vista-inflicted wounds, instead of dumping another OS on us.  Have they not learned from the Vista fiasco?  Users don’t want to upgrade their OS every two years, they just want to use their computers and be left alone.  How can Microsoft be so out of touch?

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The Vista Movie

OK, I admit.  The title over-promises, the post under-delivers.  This won’t be an exciting thriller. In fact it’s outright boring.  Like watching paint dry.  But that’s exactly the point, Vista took a good minute to delete a single file ( I got bored after 18 seconds and stopped recording).

Must be a giant file…. NOT.  It’s not 1.1GB, not 1.1MB, it is 1.1KB.

Of course some would say it’s just a perception… and they are probably right.  Ransom paid, and I’m sure by the end of the year this whole 3-year nightmare with Vista will appear just that… a nightmare.  Never happened.

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Break Free of Vista for a $50 Ransom. Catch Win7 Upgrade While You Can.

Fellow Windows Vista victims, there’s light at the end of the tunnel: we may soon set ourselves free and only have to pay a $50 ransom.  I just did. 

The $50 ransom is not a bad deal. Forget the myriad of Win7 SKU’s and whopping prices all the way to $319.99.  I’m calling BS: the real standalone Win7 price is $50 or $100.  Period.

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Intel & Microsoft Leans on the Netbook Market

The proliferation of affordable netbooks is good for everyone – consumers, that is.  Computer manufacturers loath it (high volume, low margin business) and so does Microsoft: they can’t exactly sell $100+ worth of software on a $200 machine.  So they come up with all sorts of evil plans. smile_devil

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Free Upgrade to Vista Final (Code-named Windows 7) is a Good First Step, but Not Enough

Put the last nail in the Vista coffin.  Windows 7 is on the fast track.

- good summary of the Windows situation by Signal to Noise.  Yes, Win 7 Beta will be available for download starting tomorrow, and it promises to be less of a resource hog than Vista.  Microsoft also talks about providing free upgrades to Windows 7 for Vista users – at least those who buy Vista after July 1st.

Good start, but not enough. The upgrade assurance is vital for both Microsoft and more importantly its OEM partners, the computer manufacturers to avoid a slump in computer purchases while waiting for the next OS.

But let’s not forget what Win 7 really is: it’s Vista Final.  As it has been widely discussed, Win 7 does not have a new kernel, it’s all about lots of incremental improvements to Vista.  In other words, it’s a Vista that works – using the Microsoft lingo perhaps it should be called Vista SP3.

Make no mistake, the accelerated move to Windows 7 is a marketing decision, not a technical one. Vista became such a disaster that Microsoft finally realized no amount of marketing can save it: it was better the abandon the shipwreck and start with a clean slate, a “new” Windows product.

But that leaves millions of Vista victims behind, who did not want to by this junk, but had no other choice when they bought their computers.  I’ve repeatedly said that Windows 7 should:

  • Be released as  Vista Final (meaning it works)
  • Be provided as a free upgrade to Vista
  • Come with a  letter of apology to all Vista victims

OK, I know … fat chances for the letter of apology.  But I am serious about the upgrade: customers who paid for Vista deserve a working (SP3-level) OS.  Abandoning those millions would be akin to a hit-and-run on a mass scale.

Update:  Finally, I don’t feel alone anymore: Jason Perlow @ ZDNet agrees: Windows 7 Should be a Fixta Free For All:

…since Windows 7 is essentially a performance and usability fix for a defective product, I’m of the increasing opinion that a Windows 7 upgrade should be free to anyone who was conned into buying Windows Vista.
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(This post originally appeared on CloudAve. – to stay on top of Cloud Computing news, analysis and just our opinion, grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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The Bogus Vista vs. Windows 7 Debate

If you love Windows XP, you’ll hate Windows 7 – says Ed Bott on ZDnet.  Windows 7: Mojave My Ass –complains Jason Perlow. Dwight Silverman confirms: Sorry, but Windows 7 isn’t a return to Windows XP, while others don’t refrain from some name-calling.

Sorry guys, you’re all wrong

You’re debating the merits of an operating system based on it’s UI.  Sure, if you migrate from XP to Win7, some of the changes can be confusing – but it’s an initial change, the learning curve is not that steep.  I actually side with Ed Bott here, the search box to launch programs is a more user-friendly approach than having to remember the names of all *.exe files a’la XP. 

But it does not really matter.  Mojave my ass?  Mojave was a bogus experiment (in fact a PR blitz dressed up as an experiment) showing happy “users” who liked the Vista UI – but hey had no chance to assess what fails in a short demo, and that’s what doomed Vista, not appearances.

Windows in all flavors, be it XP, Vista or 7 is not an application.  It’s a friggin’ operating system whose job is to get us into applications and get out of the way.  In today’s flurry of blog posts Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has the right approach, presenting performance tests – yes, performance is key to judging how good an operating system is.

The other key criteria is how invisible it stays. Think about it: any time you have to get down to OS level typically means something does not work right.  It’s the stupid unexplainable little things like:

  • Vista and XP computers not finding each other on a home network until you apply an undocumented patch to the XP machines
  • Simple copy or delete operations taking forever
  • Not being authorized to move / delete files on my own computer even after elevating to Admin mode, killing UAC and a number of weird cryptic options that take an IT deapartment to deal with, not a home user
  • Windows upgrade failing if more than 3GB memory is installed
  • The latest Windows upgrade causing printer and camera drivers from several vendors reinstall themselves (some take 30 minutes or more, kinda big deal)

The list could go on, but I think you get my drift:  Windows 7 (and any other OS) will be judged on how well computers will run, let users interact with real application without having to touch the OS itself.

Finally, to address the speculation about Windows 7 upgrade paths, let me just reiterate this:

  • Win7  should be released as  Vista Final (meaning it works)
  • It should be provided it as a free upgrade to Vista
  • It should come with a letter of apology to all Vista victims

OK, I know we have fat chances for the apology – but I really mean the free upgrade part.

(Cross-posted from CloudAve – to stay on top of Cloud Computing news, analysis and just our opinion, grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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Ready for Vista Final? (Code-named Windows 7)

For two days in a row TechMeme was overflowing with Microsoft news coming out of PDC: Azure, Windows 7, Web Office (whatever the MS name will be).   But on the very day that supposedly all belonged to Microsoft there was a stream of seemingly unrelated items on TechMeme all pointing in the same direction, none too good for Microsoft.

Joe Wilcox @ Microsoft Watch declared that Windows Vista No Longer Matters :

Contrary to ridiculous assertions recently made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Windows Vista is a flop. If businesses aren’t buying Vista, after waiting six (now seven) years, it’s no success. Yet, during the last day of the Gartner 2008 expo 10 days ago, Steve asserted that Vista “has been extremely successful.”

Success in terms of revenue does not mean actual product acceptance.  The fact is, most of the Vista revenue comes from consumers, not the corporate Market.  Consumers don’t intentionally buy Vista, they buy computers: good luck trying to buy a system without Vista on it – unless it’s a Mac or the refreshingly new category of Netbooks.  And if you cough up the extra $50-$99 most OEM’s charge you to “downgrade” to XP, it is still booked as a Vista sale!  Like I’ve said before, don’t be blinded by Vista sales numbers.  No wonder MS omitted the Vista licence count during last week’s earnings announcement.

PDC has shown that Microsoft is now eager to forget about Vista, a bad dream, fully focusing on Windows 7.   They must have realized that no multi-million-dollar marketing campaign can fix Vista’s badly tarnished reputation.

Where public opinion is more divided is whether this was just a perception issue, or actual product problems.  Count me in the latter camp – no Mojave Experiment can convince me otherwise.  The problem with Vista has never been appearance, or features as originally designed: it’s the zillions of inconsistencies, little things that fail every day turning us Vista-users into Vista-sufferers.

The stream of messages coming out of PDC appear to confirm this: it’s clear that Windows 7 does not mean major architectural, infrastructural changes – that’s what Vista did.  Win7 is all about the user experience – in other words, putting the finishing touches on Vista.  I said over a year ago: we don’t need another desktop OS.  But I guess I am OK with Windows 7, provided Microsoft:

  • Releases it as  Vista Final (meaning it works)
  • Provides it as a free update to Vista
  • Attaches  a letter of apology to all Vista victims (yeah, fat chances…)

Whether it’s Vista or Windows 7, almost doesn’t matter – it will likely be the last major desktop OS MS releases, and as such it represents the end of an era.  Obviously Microsoft themselves recognizes it (finally!), this years PDC is all about moving to the Cloud, be it the Azure initiative, or the announcement of moving Office to the Web.  (To be precise it’s the announcement of a future product announcement).

This trend will only be accelerated by the shift in what devices we use for our (cloud-based) computing needs.  Time to Leave the Laptop Behind – says The Wall Street Journal, joined by Coding Horror’s Jeff Atwood who declares: The Web Browser is the New LaptopEvery day another Netbook is announced, at lower and lower prices, and they change how we access information forever.  I’ll be devoting the next post to this subject, in the meantime leaving you with another post from Henry Blodget:  Microsoft Windows: The Beginning of the End.

(Originally posted @ CloudAve)

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Windows Seven in 2010. Does Anyone Still Care?

So the next OS from Microsoft will be Windows Seven (where’s Windows 6?) – does anyone still care?

I simply don’t get it: Vista is barely out, nobody seems to like it, CIO’s refuse to upgrade, analyst firms tell them to wait, individual users who tried it switch back to XP, others time their new PC purchase so they can still get an XP machine – generally speaking Vista was as poorly received as the ill-fated Windows ME.

Apple is gaining market share, the major computer manufacturers are offering Linux PC’s, the Web OS concept is getting popular, applications are already on the Web – can anyone clearly see the shape of personal computing in 2012? (Yes, I know MS plans for 2010, I’m just adding the customary delay.) Will it still matter what OS we use to get on the Internet? How can Microsoft be so out of touch?

Considering the resistance to Vista ( see this Computerworld article on making XP last for 7 years) why would the world want to upgrade switch to yet-another Windows OS in five years?

Of course I’m not saying nobody cares. This hypnotized crowd certainly does. smile_yawn

Update (7/23): ZDNet’s David Berlind is asking the same question.

Update (7/25): Why ‘Seven’ and Not SP1?

Update (8/9): a very good analysis by eWeek: Broken Windows