If Microsoft hasn't put Vista behind them in their minds, perhaps they should truly consider rebranding themselves
. Lots of folks in internet land have been hyper-critical of Vista, including SJVN
and PCMag Editor Jim Louderback
, Dan Tynan
, Chris Pirillo
, Dan Reisinger
, the British Government
, and yes, even moi
. But as PC Mag editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff told a Microsoft rep at this year's CES
:"There's nothing wrong with Vista,"
I told him, "but you guys have a big problem on your hands. Perception is reality, and the perception is that Vista is a dud.... the operating system is too complex, too burdened by things people don't need. It's trying to support the world, and most times it feels like it. I have a quad-core PC at home, with 3GB of RAM and a powerful graphics card, and I still wonder why Vista sometimes seems so slow."
Worse yet, even where Vista seems to succeed, it fails. Ulanoff gives four suggestions for a complete Vista makeover, among them:Stop trying to make Windows all things to all people. Build it for three core tasks: e-mail, Web browsing, and document creation (which would cover 75 percent or more of the computing world's needs). Sell the OS for $19.99. Then build a dozen or so add-ons that users can bolt on to create the task-oriented OS they want: writing, music, video creation, art work, accounting and business, and so on.
(Ironically, the whole Linux distro scene has long done this very thing, allowing you to have as much or as little in your OS as you want.)
I've made clear that Vista's heavy performance, its EULA, forced automatic updates (for a long time), the infamous kill switch, and combined with the fact that the more Microsoft makes it more difficult to legally use their software, the more piracy becomes a self-reinforcing act. It’s now easier to pirate Windows than to hassle with registering, validating, and upgrading it.
And it's been enough to move me to GNU/Linux last year. Not to mention, for lower middle class guys like myself — which includes a good percentage of the US — I can no longer afford to keep buying bigger fatter machines just to keep up with Microsoft, but I shouldn't have to either. Moreover, Vista cedes the low-end PC market to Linux, with Dell, Lenovo, and HP selling cheap Linux desktops for as low as $150.
Lance Ulanoff suggestion of starting over is on the right track, but I don't think Microsoft gets it just yet. So far their solution is more marketing, damnit!
In a way though Vista has been very helpful to Linux and Apple. Who among us doesn't know someone who has either bought a Mac or simply begun using Linux as a test replacement for Windows in the past year? And trust me, once those users migrate, they're gone for a very, very long time, if not for good.
Will Microsoft disavow Vista? No. Will they move on? Check back in 2010.