Where Windows Vista fails…

Even though several pre-relase (beta as well as technological preview) versions of Vista, the latest (and shiniest?) incarnation of the Microsoft Windows operating system have been around for quite some time, the software itself won’t be sold much before early 2007. That’s not new. Months before that date, there is an article writtten by technology journalist Paul Thurrott on the new operating system, provokingly titled “Where Vista fails. This also ain’t new, by now there already are bunches of articles written by people to critizise the next mainstream operating system that will be around. In this case, however, things are different for two reasons: On one side, Paul Thurrott is quite a popular writer known for providing reliable, detailed information on Microsoft and its products in a rather objective way. This is what separates his text from most of the ‘Microsoft sucks’ stuff out there, this is what makes it more likely to provide insights rather than just personal thoughts. And, on the other side, Thurrott also this time again relies upon providing facts and examples instead of just thoughts and rumours.

So, overally, his article is one of those everyone being somehow into technology should read, as it doesn’t just provide some disillusioning facts about important (and probably outstanding) features that have been removed from Vista, basically making the system just something like “MS Windows XP Service Pack 3” (if not the operating system Windows XP should have been) polished to look more like Mac OS X – a lot of new eye-candy, a new user interface, and a lot of old stuff under the hood. On the other side, this article also provides some interesting insights into the structure and mood of Microsoft as a company obviously being subject to massive changes then and now, outlining the “good” and the “bad” within the realms of the software giant.

There’s only one fact about articles like that which is really disappointing: Most likely, no matter whether or not there is justified technical criticism, I’m almost sure to know how things will be, in early 2007. “The same procedure as last time, Bill?” – “The same procedure as _every_ time, Steve!” So, here’s my personal prediction of how Windows Vista launch will look like:

  • In early 2007, Microsoft will launch Windows Vista, backed up by a massive marketing budget and a vast product launch campaign to convince people that Vista actually is worth spending money for – who would do that much advertising for a product that’s not worth it?
  • By then, mainstream computer press almost immediately will start bashing Vista as being incomplete, unstable, unusable. Fortunately, all will not be lost by then, since for the next months to pass, these magazines will start providing the most “secret tricks” to access “hidden features” and “undocumented configuration” options along with CDs and DVDs filled up with “tools you don’t want to live without if you want to unleash the power of Vista”. This way, these magazines will earn a fortune following the Vista release providing useless yet (again) well-advertised information.
  • Besides this, in early 2007 the first computer resellers will start shipping machines pre-installed with and configured to meet the hardware requirements of Windows Vista. The “Windows Tax” will be charged again (probably, sooner or later people simply won’t be able anymore to run the Windows XP system they already paid for on their new machines – both because there will be no drivers to make XP support the new hardware and because they spent money on a version of Windows XP which mustn’t be used with another computer than the one it initially was shipped with) – twice: People will have to pay for the new operating system, and they will have to pay for high-end, state-of-the-art machines that meet the technical needs of Windows Vista (and which are just drastically oversized for most everyday users that don’t want to play recent games or do multimedia work on a professional level but who just are using their computer for being “online”, writing mails and a text once in a while). But at least the part of the “tax” due to pay the operating system will be rather low – most manufacturers and resellers probably will offer their machines using the most low-level one of the many Vista editions like they used to sell the cut-down Windows XP Home instead of the “real” version (Professional) before.
  • Unfortunately, no matter how disappointing Vista will be: The mainstream customer won’t have a choice. Surely, by then there will be a recent version for example of Ubuntu GNU/Linux, probably made to perfectly fit the needs of most home and professional users, there will be the Novell/SuSE Linux Desktop along with several other GNU/Linux distributions out there for the taking and using, and there even might be a version of Mac OS X made to run on “common” personal computers. But probably those who buy mainstream computers never will be told that there also are alternatives to using Vista, let aside being even asked which operating system they want to run on their machine.

So, overally, in the end it is frustrating. Vista is likely to be vaporware, and yet it will be around… Too bad that, even in an age of markets and companies, there is not even a single bit of real competition in the operating system market…