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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 21, 2008 at 10:00 AM

Column on Microsoft’s Vista attitude strikes nerve

Today’s column on Microsoft’s attitude toward Windows Vista apparently tapped a rich vein of frustration with the operating system.

Feedback ranges from the usual dismissive rants about Microsoft to long, thoughtful notes from people who seem almost sad about the problems they’ve had.

A few samples:

I enjoyed reading today’s column titled “Maybe Vista is just a victim of inflated expectations.” I have to reply because in my mind Vista is the victim of Microsoft’s marketing machine and old age.

Microsoft’s marketing machine more or less said Vista was awesome. What really happened is the Vista experience is closer to a Windows ME experience; that is, an unsatisfying mix of the old and new.

After reading your article, for fun I fired up Microsoft Windows 2.03 ((c) 1987) in a VMware virtual machine to remind me of the core Windows experience. In a weird way, I realized that on many days all the functionality I need in a computer is right there in Windows 2.03.

Microsoft must know the Windows franchise is played out….

Scanner darkly:

I bought a new laptop with Vista Home Premium in February 2007. Almost immediately Internet Explorer stopped working. After a few days of emailing back and forth with Microsoft it was determined that some software that came with my scanner was the problem. I removed the software and Internet Explorer worked for a few weeks and now, although I have not added any peripherals or software since then, IE7 has stopped working again….

I had saved all my emails from Microsoft tech and went through all of that procedure again to no avail. IE7 will not work and I’m not paying Microsoft tech to help me fix a problem with their product.Thank goodness for trouble free Firefox.

In 2008 a computer should not be this difficult to use. The user interface should be nearly completely intuitive. I don’t think that is too high an expectation. I don’t want to be a computer expert. I just want to use a computer as a reliable tool to accomplish some tasks.

Microsoft has lost me. I’m switching to Apple when I wear out this laptop. I hear that Apple has it’s own problems but it can’t be as bad as Microsoft….

Start over?:

When Apple went to OS X, version 10.0 was a disaster — slow and prone to almost daily kernel panics. But from what they’ve accomplished since then, it seems obvious that the core design was good, especially at being modular and scalable. It sounds like even Microsoft realizes that Vista isn’t that and may soon be off on another major rewrite, with all the delays that could entail and with a new set of execs. I pity Windows users caught in that trap. Some of Microsoft’s problems may lie in the sheer amount of resources they can throw into a product. The result is often an overgrown monster.

Sticking with XP:

I just bought two new copies of XP Pro for upgrades, and may buy more as insurance for my next builds. . Vista’s problem is XP is so good – and SP3 is on its way to boot — soon it’ll be even better. I figure I’ll be good for at least 8 years — after that it’ll be Linux.

Most MS OS sales figures ride on OEM installations on new machines; actual upgrades are always a small part of the pie. In Vista’s case, business users are especially reluctant to make the switch. Talking about the next OS has already killed Vista for a lot of folks — read the bulletin boards. It’s very slow, has beau coup file handling problems — the geeks are calling it “Vista – Me.”

Microsoft undervalued sometimes, but …

No, it is the result of poor software design.

In many cases Microsoft is given too little credit for their advances in user interface design. In this case the designers were out to lunch.

An example: Click on “Connect to Network,” double click on your VPN link, and a step later you get a screen that says “Succesfully Connected to VPN.”

Now, disconnect your VPN.

Click on “Connect to Network.” Up pops a screen that says “Succesfully connected to VPN.” Actually, it was already open, it simply was promoted to the top of your desktop. A network connection button that starts as a verb shouldn’t suddenly become a static noun and stick around to confuse you later.

One glaring example. There are many more.

I use Vista on three machines and have gradually learned to work around its quirks, and to tolerate the fact that it slows my applications.

But Microsoft can do better.

From a CIO:

Perhaps this has [to] do with Microsoft’s aggressive new corporate licensing, forcing Vista into the business market. When you force the issue, talking bolder stance with publicizing end of life cycles, most businesses typically follow simply because they have no other option, especially if you are entrench with Microsoft solutions….

In short, it isn’t we don’t want to upgrade Vista. We can’t. Microsoft has priced its usage, requirements, its programmability out of our range.

Yet one reader says it’s not all bad:

For a lot of folks Vista is far surpassing their expectations.

Any other thoughts?

UPDATE: The last comment above was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, the writer said in a follow-up email: “I, like a lot of folks, have a very low expectation of anything from Microsoft,” he said. For a defense of Vista, check the comment below from a student at Western.



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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

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