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    OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Microsoft Watch - Vista - What Went Wrong with Windows Vista?

    December 6, 2007 2:36 PM

    What Went Wrong with Windows Vista?




    [FONT=arial, 'lucida console', sans-serif]Joe Wilcox[/font]
    December is the month for year-end reviews. We begin our first 2007 look back by offering 10 reasons why Vista failed to "WOW" consumers or businesses.


    Make no mistake: Despite PR assertions otherwise, Windows Vista did not meet Microsoft expectations. The signs are everywhere:
    • Windows Vista advertising ended almost as abruptly as it started
    • Microsoft beat the drum a bit too loudly about the number of Vista licenses shipped
    • Windows Ultimate Extras became a real dreamscape of empty promises
    • Microsoft already is advancing plans for Vista-successor Windows 7
    Some of these signs are bigger than Vista's early disappointment. There has been a change of management in the Windows group since Vista's launch. Also, Microsoft executives are feeling better about Vista today than in, say, March or April. Vista delivered good revenue results during Microsoft's 2008 fiscal first quarter, which ended Sept. 30.
    That said, Vista has gotten off to a rocky start, which could have been avoided. My reasons from 10 to one:
    10. Too many versions. From a revenue perspective, six Vista SKUs (including Starter Edition) makes sense, because Microsoft wanted to:
    • Successfully increase pricing on a monopoly product
    • Move the install base to richer margin "Pro" versions
    • Increase Windows volume-licensing revenue
    From a marketing perspective, the SKU strategy is a disaster. Windows isn't toothpaste or cosmetics. Windows, and other operating systems like it, are unique products in that they are multifunctional and multipurpose. Most successful products do one thing really well. Windows adapts to many roles. Microsoft's SKU strategy attempts to make Windows into what it's not: A differentiated product.
    So what's happening in the marketplace? Windows sales are consolidating around two SKUs, Vista Home Premium for consumers and Vista Enterprise for businesses. The versioning strategy introduces unnecessary buying complexity. From a marketing perspective, there should have been two SKUs, at the most.
    9. DOJ and the EU. The U.S. and European adverse antitrust rulings hugely impacted how Microsoft develops Windows. Competitors and pundits can whine about anti-competition—perhaps with some justification—but Microsoft has changed. Vista is evidence. Microsoft clearly curbed the amount of bundling—that is, integrating—new features with Windows. With the exception of security features, XP and Vista bundled features aren't much different (see #2 for reasons why this matters).
    Had Microsoft competed as it did before the court cases, many features now available as separate Windows Live services likely would be part of Vista. Also, Microsoft would likely have continued aggressive development of Windows Media Player, which has changed little since version 9.
    8. Office 2007 missing link. Until Nov. 30, 2006, Microsoft hadn't shipped versions of Office and Windows together since 1995. Last time, Microsoft used Office to jumpstart the application transition from 16-bit to 32-bit software. Meanwhile, Windows 95 helped drive up Office penetration. Microsoft should have been able to do something similar with Office 2007 and Windows Vista. Instead, there is almost no synergy between the products.
    Office 2007 and Vista separated at birth and went to live with different families. It's hard to see how they are related:
    • The products take two very different approaches to user interfaces
    • Office 2007 runs on XP and existing hardware; Vista demands more
    • There are no significant feature dependencies or capability enhancements when using both together
    • Office 2007 showcases no major Vista capabilities, particularly the visual eye candy.
    Office 2007 should be reason to buy Windows Vista, but it's not. The productivity suite should also be a showcase Vista application for developers. Again, it's not.
    7. WOW went away. Microsoft launched Windows Vista with great advertising. The WOW ad campaign was compelling and perhaps too convincing, because it promised too much (more on that in #2). But Microsoft nixed the marketing campaign after only a few months.
    The ad campaign had to do lots more, particularly after Microsoft spent most of 2005 and 2006 telling everyone just how great Windows XP is. For nearly 18 months leading up to Windows Vista's launch, Microsoft heavily advertised Windows XP benefits. The "Start Something" ad campaign was quite good and maybe it was too effective. Microsoft told people why Windows XP was so great, and surprisingly late in its life cycle. Why should anyone look at Vista, when XP is so good?
    Mike Nash didn't answer, but I recently asked the vice president of Windows Product Management if he wasn't sick of watching all those Apple commercials. Apple ads for iMac, iPhone and iPod are everywhere. Now Apple has started running new "Get a Mac" ads, with one that royally disses Vista. "Get a Mac" is one of the best technology ad campaigns ever. Apple gives consumers and small businesses—even enterprises—reasons why Vista is bad. But Microsoft isn't giving much reason for why Vista is good.
    Advertising works, so why isn't Microsoft doing more of it? The company is so high and mighty about using its own stuff; the Microsoft term is "dogfooding." OK, how about the company dogfood Vista ads using its aQuantive acquisition assets?
    6. The ecosystem wasn't ready. It's still not ready for Vista and may never be. During Microsoft's 2003 developer conference, Chairman Bill Gates laid out his expectations for PC configurations in 2006. Vista clearly is designed for the system requirements Gates identified four years ago. But that's not the hardware most OEMs shipped when Vista launched, nor are they shipping enough today. This is particularly true of graphics; many computers are underpowered.
    Vista also launched without adequate application support. True, Microsoft made architectural changes and tweaked the operating system right up to RTM (release to manufacturing) and after with Windows Update. Ongoing changes create problems for software developers and hardware manufacturers. A year after Vista's release, application compatibility problems persist and there are very few—count them on one hand—truly native Vista applications.
    Microsoft's platform succeeds for one and only one reason: Windows allows lots of other folks to make loads of money. The big money is in Windows XP, which is widely used, already supported and runs on existing hardware. Microsoft's Windows ecosystem isn't moving forward to Vista. It's hanging back where the money is, and that's still Windows XP (see #1 for why this is so important).
    5. Design by committee. For years, Microsoft has let too many chefs in the kitchen. From massive business and consumer research to analysts, customers, partners and testers, Microsoft has collected loads of input about Windows features. That's a recipe for mediocrity, because not everyone—not even most anyone—can be satisfied. Microsoft collects way too much input and listens to way too much more.
    But there's hope. Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's senior veep for Windows and Windows Live Engineering, has a different management style than his predecessors. There's a new sheriff in town, and he enforces the law. There won't be as much developer rough housing over at the Longhorn saloon.
    Somebody needs to be in charge, to take more charge and to make more final decisions. C'mon, does anyone think that Apple CEO Steve Jobs lets a committee make big product decisions? The groups are small, and he still has final say.
    Sinofsky will bring discipline to Windows 7 development, methinks, and probably less design-by-committee approach. But he'll also have to push the edge, take the kind of risks that brought from his team Office 2007's new user interface. If the committee decides, Windows will be doomed to mediocrity.
    4. Bad timing. Why did Vista miss holiday 2006? There's no excuse for it, unless something wasn't ready—and that would be Microsoft's Windows ecosystem. Surely if committed, Microsoft could have delivered code soon enough to make the holiday rush, because how can you miss Christmas? The answer is you can't. Some retailers make 40 percent of their revenues for the year between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25.
    By missing holiday 2006, Microsoft took the bizarre action of launching Vista twice, both times terrible for their respective market. What IT organization wants to test and deploy software during the holidays? What consumer wants to buy a new PC at the end of January and a week before the Super Bowl? Microsoft released Vista at the slowest sales periods for businesses and then again for consumers.
    Something else: Microsoft released Vista on the wrong side of a major upgrade cycle. Mid 2004 to early 2006, many businesses refreshed PCs. What did they get? Windows XP and new hardware underpowered for Windows Vista. Microsoft really needed to ship Vista in 2005. Late 2006/early 2007 was too late.
    3. Complexity is a killer. Microsoft made architectural changes, particularly around security, and user interface design decisions that make Vista overly complex. The aforementioned versioning strategy also increases complexity. As will be explained in #2, Vista needed to be a whole lot better than Windows XP. Increased complexity makes XP seem better in some ways. For people used to going 120km per hour down the XP highway, Vista presents them with persistent speed bumps, like UAC (User Account Control) pop-ups.
    I'm all for improved security, but does Microsoft have to frisk me and my friends every time we come by? That's part of the demand Vista makes. Some of my friends aren't welcome, and there I'm alluding to applications broken by security architecture changes.
    Aero is a refreshing change from XP's Luna user interface. But Microsoft also moved too many things around, creating confusion and unnecessary complexity. The Control Panel is full of icons and some controls have new names. So the reaction to Vista isn't "WOW," but "Whoa, where's my stuff?"
    The architectural changes that increased complexity are, as my dad would say, "half-assed." They don't go far enough. Microsoft chose some middle ground, rather than breaking new ground on something truly innovative. So Microsoft still has architectural changes to make in the future, and perhaps more Windows hardship with it.
    What Microsoft should have done: Really re-architect the operating system and use virtualization technology to provide backward compatibility with older applications and hardware. Apple successfully moved to a new architecture with Mac OS X, while providing a Mac OS 9.x compatibility layer. Microsoft has much better technology for doing something similar and better.
    2. The "good enough" problem. Microsoft's biggest competitor is itself. In a market where one product dominates, older versions compete with newer ones. The problem exacerbates as a product improves and more people use it. Windows XP reached the "good enough" threshold, in terms of features and usability and market saturation. To displace XP, Vista needed to be a whole lot better, not just the same or even a little better. But Vista isn't the "WOW" operating system Microsoft advertised. Vista is a very good operating system and arguably better than XP. But Vista isn't a great operating system and, therefore, a whole lot better than Windows XP.
    Apple is looking at the same problem with Mac OS X 10.5 (aka Leopard). Apple promised loads of new features in Leopard, and they're there. But predecessor Tiger reaches a good enough threshold. I predict that, like Microsoft, Apple will see only modest retail uptake following the initial sales surge. Most of the install base will move to Leopard when buying a new computer, just like Windows Vista.
    Back in 2003, I told several Microsoft product managers that Windows XP Service Pack 2 should be a new version of the operating system. If Microsoft had in 2004 the "R2" concept it has today, XP SP2 would have been a new release. R2 is a minor version, for which non-Software Assurance customers pay, released between major new products. Microsoft made plenty enough changes with XP SP2 to justify calling it a new version. The new version would have made more time for Microsoft to develop a truly better version of Windows. Instead, Microsoft was under great pressure to get out Vista, instead of waiting until 2007 or 2008 to release a truly great XP successor.
    1. The Windows XP ecosystem. Microsoft talks about the value of the Windows ecosystem, for good reasons. The huge network of software developers, channel partners and hardware manufacturers provides great value to customers and creates a natural barrier against the success of other operating systems.
    The ecosystem also can work against Windows. Microsoft kept Windows XP in the market for way too long. Around Windows XP developed a very stable ecosystem of hardware, software, sales and services, which is good for many customers and partners but bad for Vista. Many customers want Windows XP, for its stability and familiarity (the aforementioned good enough concept) and the stability and familiarity of the supporting ecosystem. Dell quite visibly offers its customers the choice of XP or Vista. Windows XP's end is nowhere soon, either. OEMs can ship Windows XP through June 30, and possibly later if Microsoft grants another extension. System builders can ship XP through the end of January 2009. There are plenty of very good XP applications, too, and not enough native Vista apps. XP will be competing with Vista for a long time yet, and stalling the Vista conversion process.


    Last edited by Wesley; 12-07-2007 at 10:00 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Great, I am getting vista on my new computer this week...

    I guess I will just install XP if it is too bad.


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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Quote Originally Posted by brianhos View Post
    Great, I am getting vista on my new computer this week...

    I guess I will just install XP if it is too bad.
    Make sure that you CAN install XP if you want. My fiance's new Dell (inspiron 1420, purchased in August) CANNOT run XP. They are seriously trying to push their conversion to Vista, and therefore drivers do not exist to run XP. A total crock, especially since the Dell rep I spoke with explicitly told me that I would be able to run XP. Pissin' me off.

    This is why I buy Macs.



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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    I think the big problem of vista is the perceived application issues. I cannot say if they do or do not exist, I guess I will find out soon. Also, I know a lot of people who have pretty nice machines that say vista is just plain slow. No one wants to spend $1000 on a machine that is slower than the one they are replacing.

    That and never overlook those apple commercials. Those things are awesome, I know they have made people think that maybe it is time for a mac. Maybe Vista is the thing that pushes them over to wanting a computer that just works.


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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Quote Originally Posted by Clone9 View Post
    Make sure that you CAN install XP if you want. My fiance's new Dell (inspiron 1420, purchased in August) CANNOT run XP. They are seriously trying to push their conversion to Vista, and therefore drivers do not exist to run XP. A total crock, especially since the Dell rep I spoke with explicitly told me that I would be able to run XP. Pissin' me off.

    This is why I buy Macs.
    We have had that issue with a bunch of that laptops we order at work. We have to use XP, because our applications do not support Vista, but the hardware cannot run anything but Vista. I just don't see any applications to moving over to include vista. It is like M$ released it and no one ever came to the party. I expected critical mass to happend sometime this summer, and I just have not seen any of it.


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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Vista all in all is fine on new machines. You will find that most of anything you use will work on it. The only reason I dont use it at home anymore is that my laserjet 1012 doesnt have a good driver for Vista. Otherwise I would use it. When I replace the printer, I will most likely bring vista back at least on my office pc. XP is solid, so its great to fall back on.

    As far as an OS rollback, drivers should be available to go back to XP. If they arent on the website for the manuf. you will need to call and ask for a disk, they have them.

    For vista users, make sure you turn off the user access control or it will drive you nuts. Once you have done this, it makes vista alot more enjoyable.

    Apple can spout off all they want to. For home users and non techs, Macs are good. For corp environments heck no. Sure they are easy for those who just want to click on a program and go, but for someone who wants to do more advanced things, they arent so great and less straight forward.


    Last edited by bos; 12-09-2007 at 03:08 PM.

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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Plus you can get Halo2 for vista.... going to try that next weekend.


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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Our workplace is waiting for the second major Vista edition to come out before we switch.


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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley View Post
    Our workplace is waiting for the second major Vista edition to come out before we switch.

    Very good choice. In business environments its good to wait on new releases for a few more years. There is still a ton of support left for XP so why change. From what I hear, with XP sp3 there will be an almost 15 percent performance increase.



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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Quote Originally Posted by bostinelosd View Post
    Vista all in all is fine on new machines. You will find that most of anything you use will work on it. The only reason I dont use it at home anymore is that my laserjet 1012 doesnt have a good driver for Vista. Otherwise I would use it. When I replace the printer, I will most likely bring vista back at least on my office pc. XP is solid, so its great to fall back on.

    As far as an OS rollback, drivers should be available to go back to XP. If they arent on the website for the manuf. you will need to call and ask for a disk, they have them.

    For vista users, make sure you turn off the user access control or it will drive you nuts. Once you have done this, it makes vista alot more enjoyable.

    Apple can spout off all they want to. For home users and non techs, Macs are good. For corp environments heck no. Sure they are easy for those who just want to click on a program and go, but for someone who wants to do more advanced things, they arent so great and less straight forward.
    At least for the Dell we have, the drivers ARE NOT available either from the specific hardware producer, Dell, or Microsoft. They are not releasing them because they do not want people to switch back to XP. Believe me, I looked everwhere, including not-so-legal websites, and they don't exist for her computer.



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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Quote Originally Posted by Clone9 View Post
    At least for the Dell we have, the drivers ARE NOT available either from the specific hardware producer, Dell, or Microsoft. They are not releasing them because they do not want people to switch back to XP. Believe me, I looked everwhere, including not-so-legal websites, and they don't exist for her computer.

    Did you try driverguide.com sometime people will design drivers and throw them up there to get by stuff like this. Im sure you looked there, but I thought I would throw it out there.



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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    I have been running it at home for a year now. On a good machine it works well. A few months ago I got a laptop with it and that's working out well also. So a month ago I got one machine at work with it. I didn't figure it would go well. I'd read about Visual Studio 05 problems and some other stuff. So I kept my XP machine to RDP into. The office switch has been the best one so far. I'm a lot more productive. The new version of IIS is really good.



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    Re: OT - Vista Trash (Basketball Doldrums Filler)

    Quote Originally Posted by Clone9 View Post
    Make sure that you CAN install XP if you want. My fiance's new Dell (inspiron 1420, purchased in August) CANNOT run XP. They are seriously trying to push their conversion to Vista, and therefore drivers do not exist to run XP. A total crock, especially since the Dell rep I spoke with explicitly told me that I would be able to run XP. Pissin' me off.

    This is why I buy Macs.
    Gotta agree with this as well. I purchased an entry level Toshiba laptop for some home use. Nothing more than email, web browsing, a little word processing. It came bundled with vista, but the hardware on a $500 laptop and vista do not mix well. The machine ran so slowly I just quit using it.

    I finally gave up on it and tried to roll it back to XP only to find that some of the hardware did not have XP drivers available. I eventually got it up with some 3rd party drivers and haven't looked back since. The machine is now stable and blazing fast. I for one have no interest in going back to vista anytime soon.



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