Sunday, February 04, 2007

Endless Vistas... of confusion

Having been at this tech thing for a goodly amount of time, I've had this policy (and learned survival skill) for almost as long: Never Buy The 1.0 Version Of Anything.

So it's been with a complete lack of surprise that I've been watching the news of Microsoft's introduction of Windows 05 (which drifted to 06... no, make that '07). IDG's Computerworld, which has been around since only the giant Mainframus Rex roamed the earth, put it succinctly (Jan. 25):
"Wait! Don't buy Windows Vista! Microsoft's new OS is the best Windows ever. But don't buy it!"

They've updated that story since (Feb. 2, by Mike Elgan,) with the amusing headline, "Windows Vista: The 'Huh?' starts now; Microsoft is confusing everyone with its new OS..." The story explains that no one knows for sure what you'll have to do to upgrade from XP: "Microsoft created this confusion by failing to tell anyone what the proof requirement would be for using an Upgrade version of Vista. Meanwhile, the Upgrade versions are poison."

Then there's the fact that MS has introduced Vista in "10 -- count 'em, 10 -- versions. Instead of giving us a simple new upgrade path to the future, they instead gave us a homework assignment."

But wait, there's more! The first "service pack" from Microsoft -- aka, bug fixes -- won't be available until late in the year. Major peripheral vendors aren't ready yet for the new operating system. (Also, attention iPod Nation, Apple is warning everyone not to upgrade to Vista yet if you want your iTunes to work, at least until the next version of iTunes "in the next few weeks.")

The Why's and How's
It's like this: software companies only make real money when they ship a major new version. It's sad but true, but most often software that's shipped (by just about everybody, and I'd love to know who this isn't true of,) is still in the beta stage, and the companies depend on the unpaid labor of all the eager-beaver early adopters, and innocent newbies, to debug their software for them.

Generally, by the time the second update is available, that application is ready for primetime. But not before.

Vista has been delayed over a year (and retailers were dismayed, to put it mildly, when it wasn't ready as promised for their biggest season, the holidays), so just as with the famous release of Windows 95 so many years ago, with 3000 known bugs, MS pushed this release out the door before they had to start to consider closing theirs.

Related, on the Techno-Frontier
(An editorial for the AltaVista MarketSpace webzine, 1997-98)


Anonymous said...

I think apple is a hypocrite with the iTunes and Vista Thing, Check out this article:

Apple: Monopolies Ruin the Market

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bill Ross said...

I had to comment on this comment (if that's blogospherically correct,) because it's amusingly nervy.

On the one hand, it's really just a promotional initiative for their website, but apparently there's more than meets the eye here.

The site is named "MicrosoftIsAwesome," and fans of irony will enjoy the subtitle: "A totally unbiased site debating why MS is so awesome." (Shades of the "Fair and Balanced" slogan of what Keith Olbermann refers to as the "Fox Noise Network.")

You have to scroll to the bottom of the writer's site to get the sense of what these guys are up to:

"We in no way receive direct compensation through microsoft, although we should. Not everyone can tell the difference between satire and the truth. Those who can't should not be allowed to use a web browser. Everything on this page is potentially a complete fabrication and/or outright lie."

Cute! But guys, I don't want to throw any cold water on your noble, quixotic quest, but I think you might want to make it a *little* more obvious.

Anyway, thanks for selectively spamming me.
- BR