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Windows 7 = Vista Final

I like Jason Hiner’s prediction @ TechRepublik: Microsoft will leapfrog Vista, release Windows 7 early, and change its OS business:

And that’s why Microsoft will ultimately try to quell the embarrassing Windows Vista debacle by making a bold move with Windows 7 to win back customer loyalty and generate positive spin for its most important product.

What will happen next?

My prognosis is that Microsoft will use smoke and mirrors to conjure up an early release of Windows 7, the next edition of the world’s most widely-used operating system. Then they will quietly and unofficially allow IT departments to migrate straight from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Yes, we’re almost there. Except that it doesn’t take care of customers (including yours truly) royally sc***ed by Vista. I wasn’t kidding when I said:

Windows 7, whenever it comes, should be released as “Vista Final”, free to all Vista victims along with Microsoft’s letter of apology.

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The Microsoft Vista Fiasco: Who is Evil Now?

Yes, it’s a harsh title. Yes, I’ve long been critical of Vista. But so far I thought it was just incompetence, the Behemoth having lost their edge. Naive me… this piece in The New York Times is a true eye-opener.

It starts with what appears to be average users’ stories (bare with me, it gets better):

  • Jon upgrades two XP machines to Vista, only to find none of his peripherals work anymore
  • Steven confirms drivers are missing in the entire ecosystem
  • Mike buys a “Windows Vista Capable” laptop which turns out to be a $2,100 email machine, as it doesn’t run his favorite programs, and only can handled the castrated version of Vista that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

If these users didn’t know better, I wonder who should. They are all senior Microsoft Execs:

  • Jon A. Shirley, a Microsoft board member.
  • Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft senior vice president responsible for Windows.
  • Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president who oversees Windows product management.

They and several other Microsofties warned about the consequences of reducing the original strict hardware requirements and labeling underrated computers as Vista Capable:

The decision to drop the original hardware requirements is accompanied by considerable internal protest. The minimum hardware configuration was set so low that “even a piece of junk will qualify,” Anantha Kancherla, a Microsoft program manager, said in an internal e-mail message among those recently unsealed, adding, “It will be a complete tragedy if we allowed it.”

That this would result in disaster was foreseeable:

“It would be a lot less costly to do the right thing for the customer now,” said Robin Leonard, a Microsoft sales manager, in an e-mail message sent to her superiors, “than to spend dollars on the back end trying to fix the problem.”

He and others were not listened to. Now Microsoft is facing a class action lawsuit: nothing new to the Redmond giant, just a calculated risk. “Where does Microsoft go to buy back its lost credibility?” asks The New York Times.

Nowhere. They stopped caring a long time ago. The Monopolist does not have customers: they have loyal subjects used to pay their taxes to Microsoft. Except that they are not that loyal anymore, and there are visible cracks on the walls of the empire. There is Linux, Mac OS, Web Applications – customers are slowly realizing they actually have a choice. Choice is the end of all monopolies, it’s just a matter of time. The Borg could slow the process by trying to be user-friendly, at least pretend to care about customers. Deceptive behavior like this shows they don’t care. They are digging their own grave.

(Please, don’t get me started on how profitable Microsoft is doing – I am talking about a trend, and it takes time….)

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Windows XP Twice as Fast as Vista?

Ouch. This hurts. Devil Mountain Software, the outfit that had previously declared Vista SP1 a Performance Dud came to the conclusion that Windows XP SP3 Yields Performance Gains – about 10% compared to XP SP2. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the very same tests show the outgoing operating system, XP twice as fast as Vista, the “flagship” OS. No wonder Forrester Research says Vista’s biggest problem is XP. smile_omg

Of course most users won’t notice it. Why? Because very few upgrade their existing computers from XP to Vista. We don’t buy operating systems, we buy computers: try to get one without Vista. (Fact: most of Microsoft’s Vista Revenue comes from the OEM channel.)

The Vista-based new screamer clearly runs a lot faster than the 3-year-old laptop running XP, but in reality it’s running at half-speed – the other half eaten by the Operating System. Which proves my earlier argument abut this being a pointless arms race: buying faster and faster machines only so they can maintain themselves and barely let us use basic applications.

Unless those applications are in the cloud. smile_wink

Related posts: PC World, Hardware 2.0 and TECH.BLORGE.com

Update (12/14): Coding Sanity has found a solution.

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Gmail … Microsoft Style

It’s definitely Holiday time: slow day, no news, my feed-reader is empty… took a walk outside, did not meet anyone. But for a minute I got confused, thinking we’re heading into April Fools’ Day, not Thanksgiving. It’s all because of Philipp Lenssen’s brilliant post: What If Gmail Had Been Designed by Microsoft?

I won’t spoil the fun, I want you to read his piece, here’s just a little teaser. Starting point, regular gmail:

He then rebrands Gmail to something longer, like Windows Live Gmail, change the URL to the more professional looking http://by114w.bay114.gmail.live.com/mail/mail.aspx?rru=home, adds new panes, breaks up messages from conversation threads into their individual parts, adjust the spam filter to be a bit more MS-like … etc. Here’s the final result:

I actually think this last pic is overdone…nevertheless, it’s good reading. Tomorrow Philipp plans to discuss “What if Microsoft had designed Windows Vista.” Artful play with the words. You could read it like this: “What if Microsoft had designed Windows Vista” – but we know that is the case, so that leaves us with the only possible interpretation: “What if Microsoft had designed Windows Vista.” smile_tongue

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Blinded by Vista Sales Success

It turns out someone does like Windows Vista, along with Office and the other stuff Microsoft sells.

– reports the New York Times, quoting Microsoft’s Kevin Johnson:

Customer demand for Windows Vista this quarter continued to build with double-digit growth in multi-year agreements by businesses and with the vast majority of consumers purchasing premium editions.

(emphasis mine)

…lot of folks spend so much time bitching about Vista and Office that they overlook one key point: Folks are buying this stuff.

– says Between the Lines. Donna Bogatin goes on in her “the-blogosphere-is-all-wrong-except-me” style:

The disconnect between tech blogosphere negative Microsoft hype and positive Microsoft reality continues to astound. Yesterday, Microsoft reported 27% revenue growth, fastest first quarter since 1999

Typical Vista gloom and doom blogger headlines: “No one is lining up for Windows Vista in San Francisco,” “The top five things about Windows Vista that still suck,” “Is Windows XP too good for Microsoft’s own good?”…

If Vista were truly the nightmare it is made out to be in the blogosphere, wouldn’t there be a massive consumer Microsoft revolt?

Time for a reality check. Product quality, customer satisfaction and market success have very little to do with each other when you have a monopoly.

The Vista problems are real, they are not fantasies created by bloggers. But how exactly are consumers supposed to revolt? They still need computers, and despite Apple’s respectable growth, they still represent a fraction of the consumer PC market. Try to buy a PC today, it’s hard to NOT end up with Vista (even I got one)

Customer demand for Vista? No, it’s customer demand for computers, in a market with no choice. I’m not “making this up”, Donna. It’s all in Microsoft’s 10-Q:

…Client revenue growth correlates with the growth of purchases of PCs from OEMs that pre-install versions of Windows operating systems because the OEM channel accounts for approximately 80% of total Client revenue. The differences between unit growth rates and revenue growth rates from year to year are affected by changes in the mix of OEM Windows operating systems licensed with premium edition operating systems as a percentage of total …

The increased “demand” for premium versions comes from another well-documented fact, i.e. Microsoft’s new segmentation, castrating Vista Home Basic and essentially making Home Premium the equivalent of XP Home – a hidden price increase, by any measure.

A true measure of “demand” for Vista would be corporate licenses and retail sales, and both are behind. But not for long: eventually, after the release of SP1 corporate IT will give in, too – who wants to be “left behind”, after all.

This isn’t liking Vista at all – it’s assimilation by the Borg.

Related posts: Between the Lines, Insider Chatter, Seeking Alpha, All about Microsoft, Tom Foremski: IMHO, Silicon Valley Watcher, Mark Evans, Computerworld, Gaffney3.com, Seeking Alpha Software stocks, Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog, Alice Hill’s Real Tech News, Paul Mooney, Between the Lines , TechCrunch, All about Microsoft and Parislemon (who, like me, did not overdose of $Kool-aid$)

Update (1/11/08): A UK Government report advises school to avoid upgrading to Vista, or deploying Office 2007.

See further update here.

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Angry Mom Spanking Ballmer Over Useless Vista

Well, it’s not the Microsoft CEO’s mother – it’s analyst Yvonne Genovese who interviewed Ballmer at the Gartner Symposium.

“My daughter comes in one day and says, ‘Hey Mom, my friend has Vista, and it has these neat little things called gadgets — I need those.'”

Said Ballmer: “I love your daughter.”

“You’re not going to like her mom in about two minutes,” said Genovese, while the crowd laughed.

She went on to explain that she installed Vista for her daughter — and two days later went right back to using the XP operating system.

That must have been one entertaining session. Read the full story at Computerworld. But first, here’s another quote from Ballmer, clearly on the defensive:

“There is always a tension between the value that end users see — and frankly, that software developers see — and the value that we can deliver to IT.”

Yesss. The key word is IT. As in “expert only”. Perhaps it’s time Microsoft recognize that they failed to serve two “masters”, and in catering strictly for IT, delivering a super-secure (?) system they created a monster quite unusable by individual consumers.

I’ve been ranting about Vista enough here, let me just add another gem to prove my point.

It’s probably fair to assume that a lot of Vista (home) users will have at least one older, XP machine around – and if they do, they want these to see these connected on a Home Network. This should be a piece of cake… or not.

  1. Your Vista PC won’t see the XP ones on the network at all.
  2. There’s no documentation whatsoever, but after Googling around you can figure out that you need to patch the XP machines (!) for them to be seen by the Vista. (Incidentally, the patch requires WGA, which fails on one of my perfectly legit computers, but that’s another story)
  3. When Vista still can’t see the networked machines, back Googling again.
  4. After some research you’ll discover a well-hidden statement that it may take up to 15 minutes for a Vista PC to see a networked pre-Vista one. Fifteen minutes!!!! in 2007!!!!

This is just one example of the many idiocies crippling Vista. Nothing major, just stupid little things that don’t work and there is no easily accessible info about.

Vista is for the corporate world with IT departments, period. I can hardly think of better promotion for Apple then releasing Vista to the consumer market. Oh, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s one from Princeton University (by way of Espen Antonsen)

Update: It’s not just kids anymore ;-)

Update: Ballmer speaks; Can Microsoft be everything to everyone? at Between the Lines. More on the Computerworld Blogs

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Vista Patch Will Transform your PC …

BBSpot reports:

In response to customer demands Microsoft announced that instead of patching bugs and improving features of Windows Vista in the next service pack release, they would just install XP.

“We’re focused on giving the customer what they want, and want they want is to just go back to XP,” said Microsoft Development Chief Greg Elston.

This is great news, Vista was nothing but torture. But I happen to know more about the deal: for an upgrade fee of $999, (student-only price $99) Vista SP1 will magically convert your archaic Windows box into an iMac – the Ultimate Solution. :-)

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Everything on this Vista PC is an Afterthought

OK, so I bit the bullet: after being so critical of Vista, I ended up buying a PC blessed cursed with this Operating System. Not that I changed my mind: I simply wanted an ergonomic desktop, for the times I’m stuck at the desk anyway. Costco had a fairly good promotional offer on a loaded super-duper-multimedia HP with this beauty of a display.

Well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but this 22″ baby has beautiful colors, is fast and the most versatile I’ve seen – it can even pivot to portrait position – except I don’t know why I would want to do that, considering the software does not work, not even after the update.

But first things first: unpacking. This thing has a wireless keyboard and mouse, which is nice – but why on earth do I need to plug in a USB transmitter for them to work? This isn’t an after-market add-on, this configuration only comes with wireless. Talk about wireless, this being a desktop, my primary desktop connection will be via the LAN cable, but why does HP bundle another plug-in, a wireless antenna with this unit? (which, incidentally was missing from my package). Why not just build it in. OK, let’s move on: this whole multimedia center thingie (TV, DVR, remote) does not excite me a lot, but since it there, I will eventually figure out how to work it. But wait: for the remote to work, I have to … yes, you guessed it right, I have to plug-in yet another component, a wireless receiver.

I am not trying to expand the system: out-of-the-box, just to use the basic capabilities I have to plug-in three “extensions” that could very well have been built in. Are these features all afterthoughts? (And I haven’t even mentioned the jungle of cables into the monitor, including a USB connector to enable the two other USB ports on the side of the display).

The next two days were spent with installation, which primarily consisted of removing some of the junk software loaded by HP (I still could not get rid of the Yahoo Search-bar at the bottom!) and setting up my own stuff. I killed the 60-day Norton trial, not that McAfee is better, but it’s free with my Comcast subscription. Too bad it wouldn’t install. This turned out to be a case study on the worth of Customer Support:

  • Costco Concierge on the phone: after 4-5 minutes she is still stuck trying to spell my name – who has time for this? No way she can help me.
  • HP Online Support: quickly says the disclaimer that it’s not a HP product, so I should really go to the other vendor, but he will try to help anyway. Well, 8-10 minutes later he concludes I should go to Windows Safe mode for this install. Oh, boy. If I have to start safe-moding on a vanilla, out-of-the box machine, what else am I in for during the lifetime of this thing? I tell him I won’t do this exercise, will likely return the machine next day
  • McAfee Online Support: he is quite clueless, too, but has an interesting prospective: perhaps, despite the aborted installation (which I repeated 4 times, Control Panel-uninstall-reboot-install included) McAfee might actually be working properly on my machine. Although he didn’t seem to get the concept of corrupted (or missing files) and had no way to verify his idea, he still planted the bug in me, so later, on my own I found a McAfee diagnostic tool that verified that I have the correct setup on my system. So, perhaps I am protected. I guess that’s the definition of hopeware.

I will spare you the details of my two-day struggle with Vista, the fight with the idiotic permission-scheme, (can’t delete my own stuff), the incompatibilities, the fact that there’s less and less information to be found, other than from users – hey, even the User Manuals link points to nowhere… enough said already. After two days, I can use the system (the screen is beautiful) but I’m far from done.

I’m starting to see how this supposedly good deal will turn out to be more expensive then a matching Mac. The funny sad thing is, I myself talked about this, describing the $1,500 iPhone: it’s the cost of my own time.smile_sad . This whole Vista-Microsoft-HP-Dell-you-name-it enchilada is anything but user friendly, a pain to work with. In fact, “work” is the operational word here: I don’t want to work setting up this thing, I just want to use it. Perhaps Steve Jobs and co. are turning a disadvantage into an advantage: they are not the darlings of the corporate market.. so they have to focus on individual users, who don’t have an IT department to support them. That means they are just turning out usable, friendly boxes.

Oh, talk about boxes, Joel Spolsky has a hilarious post today: Even the Office 2007 box has a learning curve, discussing Office 2007’s fancy box (which is the same design Vista comes in):

…I simply could not figure out how to open the bizarre new packaging.
…It represents a complete failure of industrial design; an utter F in the school of Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things.
…It seems like even rudimentary usability testing would have revealed the problem. A box that many people can’t figure out how to open without a Google search is an unusually pathetic failure of design.

Chris Pirillo responds: Windows Vista Isn’t for Developers?

Hm, now I really don’t know what to think. All this while I’ve been making the point that Vista is not for earthly users; now Chris makes the point it’s not for developers, either. So, who exactly is Vista meant to be for?

Update: How timely… read Raju, a Mac Convert’s testimony: Windows (Dell) to Mac: Thats a smooth ride. Damn. I have 90 days (Costco’s return policy) to make up my mind. But even if I take the smooth ride, no-one is paying for my wasted time….

Update #2: I’m speechless… but Vista has just given me another proof that’s it’s not meant for *users*. Here’s am error window:

Windows decided to mess with Firefox, without telling me, the owner of the computer what it did. OK, let’s click on the link, perhaps it tells us what happened:

What changes does it make?

It depends on the problem, but any changes made are related to how Windows runs the program.

blahblahblah … but it gets better:

How do I turn it off or turn it back on?

Adjustments to the Program Compatibility Wizard can be made by using Group Policy. For more information on how to use Group Policy, go to the Microsoft website for IT professionals.

So let’s get this straight: Vista makes changes to my system, to the most important program I use, Firefox, without asking me, without telling me what those changes were, how to undo them. And if I want to prevent such aggression in the future, I should go to the “IT Professionals” site.

Well, I won’t. A computer sold at Costco, BestBuy, Fry’s ..etc is a Consumer Device. I am a Consumer. This Operating System is NOT for consumers. Microsoft (via HP) sold me garbage.

I can’t wait for the Vista related Class Action cases.

Update: I think I’ll try this tweaky-thingy recommended at WebWorkerDaily.

Update (8/23): Dell must share my views of Vista, or in fact Windows in general, having shipped this laptop without any OS at all ;-)

Update (8/23): Even a 6-year-old knows better… he is right, my next PC will be an Apple. And since I’m already doing most of my work on the Web, the transition won’t be a big deal.

OK, this is too much of a coincidence (or not?): when I described Microsoft Money as a showcase for what’s wrong with Microsoft’s Software + Service concept, Omar Shahine, a Microsoft employee responded – he experienced very similar problems. And what am I reading today on Omar’s blog? It’s been a bad month for Vista.

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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