Conspiracy Theory: the Vista-ization of Windows 7 has Started…

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, that Vista’s main competitor was Microsoft’s own solid OS, WinXP – there was simply no reason to upgrade.  Yet as buying new computers with Good Ole Vista became increasingly difficult, many of us got stuck with Vista.  I was wrong in not foreseeing that Vista would turn out to be such a disaster, that millions of Vista victims would end up paying the ransom to get out of the trap and get the version of the OS that actually works: Windows 7.

What followed was two peaceful years when Windows computers simply worked.  Yes, They Just Worked. Almost like a Mac. Smile

Then the unexpected (?) happened…

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve » Zoli Erdos)


Blinded by Vista Sales Numbers

This is one of those rare occasions when I can pull up an old post, dust it off,  and voila! – I’m done.  Yes, I am lazy – but hey, I can’t help, this is one of those “I’ve told you” moments.   Here’s what I wrote last year:

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.

Today InfoWorld burst the Vista Sales Bubble (if you ask me, there never has been a bubble, but that’s another matter):  35 percent of mainly enterprise-class users “downgrade” their Vista systems to XP.

The numbers speak for themselves, let me just add this: next time you look at Vista Sales figures, remember: these customers did not have the choice to buy XP directly, they had to get Vista on their systems, then “downgrade” (upgrade, if you ask me) to XP.    But by then their transaction is booked as a Vista purchase!

Vista sales figures are inflated, these transactions were not real purchases, just ransom paid to the monopolist for the privilege to use the OS that actually works- XP.


MS Money: Old Financial Data May Not Be Accessible on Vista

You’d think at least Microsoft’s own products are compatible with Vista.  Well, sort of.  MS Money users who converted from Quicken may be out of luck.

I have a lot of financial data in Microsoft Money and prior to that in Quicken files. Both  applications used to recommend you keep the data files small by archiving earlier years. With today’s faster computers archiving is no longer an issue, but if you’re  a long-time user like I am, you probably have a few old archive files.

Every time you “upgrade” Money (hardly any new value, but if you use online services, MS forces you to upgrade every 2-3 years) your current data file is upgraded to the new formats, too. But what happens to the archive files?

I decided to convert all my older Quicken files to Money, just in case… after all, Money supports Quicken conversion.  Or not: crash.  Crash again.. and again.  I tried several data files, even rebooted the system, to no avail: Money consistently crashed at all conversion attempts.

This is where Vista’s Problem Reports and Solutions comes handy, and yes, a few days later it shows “solution found”. Hm… if they found it, they certainly are not sharing it.  Here’s the user-friendly stuff I found:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-16″?>
<MATCHING_FILE NAME=”adapt.dll” SIZE=”109360″ CHECKSUM=”0x24BD92C0″ BIN_FILE_VERSION=”″ BIN_PRODUCT_VERSION=”″ PRODUCT_VERSION=”16.00.1303″ FILE_DESCRIPTION=”MSN Money Adaptation DLL” COMPANY_NAME=”Microsoft(R) Corporation” PRODUCT_NAME=”Microsoft(R) Money” FILE_VERSION=”16.00.1303″ ORIGINAL_FILENAME=”adapt.dll” INTERNAL_NAME=”adaptation” LEGAL_COPYRIGHT=”Copyright © Microsoft Corp. ” VERDATEHI=”0x0″ VERDATELO=”0x0″ VERFILEOS=”0x4″ VERFILETYPE=”0x2″ MODULE_TYPE=”WIN32″ PE_CHECKSUM=”0x25BFE” LINKER_VERSION=”0x60000″ UPTO_BIN_FILE_VERSION=”″ UPTO_BIN_PRODUCT_VERSION=”″ LINK_DATE=”01/04/2007 07:49:53″ UPTO_LINK_DATE=”01/04/2007 07:49:53″ EXPORT_NAME=”Adapt.DLL” VER_LANGUAGE=”English (United States) [0x409]” />
<MATCHING_FILE NAME=”adaptres.dll” SIZE=”13104″ CHECKSUM=”0xA99DDA54″ BIN_FILE_VERSION=”″ BIN_PRODUCT_VERSION=”″ PRODUCT_VERSION=”16.00.1303″ FILE_DESCRIPTION=”MSN Money Adaptation DLL” COMPANY_NAME=”Microsoft(R) Corporation” PRODUCT_NAME=”Microsoft(R) Money” FILE_VERSION=”16.00.1303″ ORIGINAL_FILENAME=”adapt.dll” INTERNAL_NAME=”adaptation” LEGAL_COPYRIGHT=”Copyright © Microsoft Corp. ” VERDATEHI=”0x0″ VERDATELO=”0x0″ VERFILEOS=”0x4″ VERFILETYPE=”0x2″ MODULE_TYPE=”WIN32″ PE_CHECKSUM=”0x4855″ LINKER_VERSION=”0x60000″ UPTO_BIN_FILE_VERSION=”″ UPTO_BIN_PRODUCT_VERSION=”″ LINK_DATE=”01/04/2007 07:00:04″ UPTO_LINK_DATE=”01/04/2007 07:00:04″ VER_LANGUAGE=”English (United States) [0x409]” />

This looks like the problem report sent to Microsoft, not the solution.  There’s one hint though: the filename is AppCompat.txt.  Perhaps it’s a Vista compatibility issue?   Luckily I still have an XP laptop around, the data files are there thanks to Foldershare sync (more on synchronization in the next post), all I have to do is install MS Money on the XP machine and try conversion there.

Voila!  Half an hour later I have the Quicken files converted to Money on the XP computer.  Money’s import/conversion routine is incompatible with Vista!   The whole exercise, including search on the Money Group took me about 2 hours, so dear Microsoft, here’s my invoice for lost productivity:

Oh, wait, we’re in the US, perhaps I should have presented a properly Americanized version. smile_wink

My poor experience was with MS Money 2007, but with Money Plus, the 2008 version of the product line Microsoft shows true ignorance to users’ legacy data needs.  Money Plus comes in four editions: Essentials, Deluxe, Premium, and Home & Business.

Microsoft offers a nice comparison chart, which neglects to mention a small detail, available only at the footnotes:

* Important note – Microsoft Money Essentials will not be able to open previous Money or Quicken files. If you are upgrading from a previous version of Money or Quicken, Money Plus Deluxe may be the right solution for you.

Not opening Quicken … well, it’s their decision. But not opening data from their very own previous releases? And this is hidden in the small print?

I rest my case.

Zemanta Pixie

Sales Pitch: We Remove Vista

Via Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog.

Update (2/1): It’s on Engadget now.


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

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


Microsoft: The Live Installer / WDS Invasion was Just the Rehearsal

Here’s a quick chronology:

  • Under the auspices of installing Live Photo Gallery, Microsoft installs their Desktop Search product on XP systems, without asking for user permission or even bothering to notify users. (for details, see previous posts listed below)
  • User uproar follows
  • Microsoft updates their Photo Live Gallery, and it no longer requires Windows Desktop Search.

Naive me, I welcome this as proof that Microsoft Listens, after all.

No, they don’t. All the above was just the rehearsal. The Real Invasion is happening now, under the disguise of Window Server Update Services, as reported by the Register:

“The admins at my place were in a flap this morning because Windows Desktop Search 3.01 had suddenly started installing itself on desktops throughout the company,” a Reg reader by the name of Rob informs us. “The trouble is that once installed, the indexer kicks in and slows the machines down.”

“I’m slightly pissed of [sic] at M$ right now,” an admin in charge of 3,000 PCs wrote in a comment to the first aforementioned link. “All the clients have slowed to a crawl, and the file servers are having problems with the load.”

Mea Culpa for my naivety. The Borg does not change.smile_zipit

My previous stories on the invasion (and more):

Other Related posts: Sadjad’s space, David and David Arno’s Blog. Of course these are hard to find, TechMeme is full of reporting how the Borg kissed the Berg.


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


Windows-less Computers? Is it Really a Good Idea?

CNet reports that “the Globalization Institute, a Brussels-based European Union think tank, has recommended the EU require all PCs to be sold without preloaded operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.”

The recommendation is for PCs and Operating Systems to be sold separately, breaking Microsoft’s monopoly, increasing competition. I’m not exactly a Microsoft-fan, in fact just recently responded to Robert Scoble who asked: Why doesn’t Microsoft get the love?:

…just look at the examples above. There are a lot more. They all show a corporate culture that does not have the customer in focus. It’s hard to love such a company, no matter how great many of the individual employees are.

So, I guess it’s time to celebrate, the EU would finally break the monopoly. And we’ll be free to buy our hardware, OS, Software all separately, trying to get it all work together. No big deal … after all, no-one ever had to hassle with non-working device drivers even with the pre-installed, pre-configured systems? But wait, it gets better:

There is no reason why computer operating systems could not follow the same model as computer hard drives and processors, which comply with standards that allow for broad compatibility as well as competition in the market.

Now, this is a pretty poor analogy: as far as I know, the hard drive and processor come installed in the computer – or are they suggesting the EU mandate unbundling those, too? We could just buy the PC components separately, and assemble it ourselves. Hey, I have a friend who never buys complete systems, he loves building them. Oh, and he fixes his car, too.

But me, well, I happen to be the lazy consumer type, expecting these things to work out-of-the-box. Preferably one box. Answering my own questions: yes, selling windows-less computers is probably a good idea, but only to the extent there is a market demand for them. Certainly not mandated by governments.

Related posts: Michael Gartenberg, Geek Speaker, BetaNews, , Macsimum News