This isn't just sad. It's getting old. I have found that people who like Vista are those who have low requirements of their computer and have quickly forgotten that they paid for a new faster computer running Vista only to run slower than they did with their old computer running XP.
The "competitors" to Vista are Apple and Linux. And it's always been good PR to stir up those two hornets nests, right? What can that possibly produce but an even bigger storm of negative criticism?
But a larger problem is that the marketing campaign is assuming that there are these isolated "critics" that they can target. Skim through the comments in the above article. Almost universally negative, strongly so. The number of critics are quite large, and the majority seem to be disaffected Microsoft customers who feel they have been abused. Attacking your customers, especially the technically-oriented ones that give advice to the others, is just going to make a bad situation much worse.
Vista was supposed to have all this new technology that really would have been great, but then they couldn't pull it together and stripped it out at the last minute. What was left was full of problems.
Yes, there's an image problem, but not a problem that can be fixed with image marketing. The image problem comes from bad technology. That's what people are basing their buying decisions on, and rightly so. But what isn't talked about is the underlying cause of the bad technology, which is bad management. The Vista project clearly suffered from a lot of "trust us, things will be great" promises by the project managers who were believed by the upper managers, until someone did a demo 6 months before the release date and someone else figured out that things had gone horribly wrong. Clearly they were using the long-iteration approach on the Vista project. (I note the lack of connection between having lots of money and being able to manage well here).
And the Windows XP "End of Sales" approach, a.k.a. "if they won't move to Vista on their own, let's force them" is the pinnacle of idiocy. Take all the XP customers who are still putting up with you and piss them off, too.
There's one final insidious pressure point that will definitely not be mentioned in this campaign, if Microsoft retains any intelligence. This is the increase in cross-platform web applications. And behind that, the increase in power of web application development platforms like Adobe Flex/AIR (and possibly Silverlight until some brilliant upper-management person at Microsoft decides that maintaining cross-platform support is cutting too deeply into Vista revenues). The real threat in these applications is that it doesn't matter what OS you're running.
As a developer, I'm personally more inclined to try to use something like Flex/AIR (at least for the UI, even if the main app is written in something else) for two reasons. First, because the foundation solves the cross-platform problems, I think it tends to make that foundation more robust -- that is, it's less likely I'll have problems. Second, even if there are only a couple of Mac and Linux people in a company or a potential market, the Mac and Linux people haven't been trained by Microsoft to put up with whatever problems are dished out to them, so those people are a pain in the ass. It's much easier just to make things that work for everybody, then everybody tends to be reasonably happy. Make a product that excludes Mac and Linux and you'll hear about it.
My prediction: the 300 million ad campaign will just make things worse. It's throwing good money after bad.
According to Wired Magazine, Apple spent 150 million to develop the iPhone. So 300 million might produce a couple of really innovative products, if Microsoft knew how to innovate. That would be a big PR win, and one that would generate a revenue stream, instead of just throwing it away on the ad company (kudos to the ad company, though -- they clearly know enough about selling to sell this campaign to Microsoft).
To really make a difference, Microsoft would have to do something so radical that upper management would never even consider it. Bite the bullet now rather than taking the bullet later. For example, don't end-of-life XP, apologize for Vista, and start sending out free copies of Vista to customers and potential customers (but only after making the install bulletproof, making sure all the drivers work, etc. -- of course, Windows 7 may just be Vista with that stuff fixed). Then, after regaining goodwill, make it up on Windows 7.
Alas, this approach or anything similarly radical will have significant negative impacts on quarterly profits and ultimately that's what upper management is responsible for (never forget that the true customers of a publicly-held corporation are not the people who buy products, but the shareholders, who can sue the board if their interests are not made first priority). This one factor is a major reason that project management gets corrupted -- "yes, your way might make a better product but it will negatively impact quarterly profits."
I remember when my intuition told me that Microsoft had plateaued. It was back when they seemed to be going strong, and no one believed me; there was no real logical justification (my best intuitions are ones that don't even make sense to me). But something seemed to have shifted -- as if they had made all the forward motion they were going to make, and from now on they were going to just tread water while being carried downstream.
They say you go through 7 stages when something huge changes in your life. I think something like this happens, collectively, in a business. Shock and denial are much the same phase in a business, however, and that's where Microsoft is, and that's what this marketing campaign is about. I don't know what all the rest of the stages are for a business, but I'm pretty certain that the next phase is "reorganization" (roughly the equivalent of "bargaining"). Multiple times, and every one unsuccessful. It will be interesting to see how long it will take before this starts to happen. Reorganization consultants, start your engines!
More and more people are jumping ship. I personally was a long-time Windows user, I said it was (at the time) more practical than the Mac OS. I wrote about it.
But I switched to OS/X and an iMac because now it is clearly superior to Windows. Faster. Better design. Better user experience. Spotlight finally making search over hundreds of gigabytes instant and practical.
Why use Vista that takes twice as much to run half as fast? What is the point? XP is old and creaky but it's still better than Vista which is new and buggy--and worse, thoughtless.
But the future of computing--for most people is probably not large desktop computers, but mobile phones.
It's interesting to see that Google didn't bother making a desktop OS, as excepted, but instead a platform for mobile phones.
Google's Android is going to have a huge effect--making cell phones less proprietary, less costly, even more universal.
I strongly now believe that the cell phone is the personal computer of tomorrow--that "touch screen device" I have been talking about for year (sans the blue snow of one of my earliest laptop dreams--though maybe that blue snow is really invisible wifi--aha!)
Gate is gone. MS is going. They don't even know how to spend their vast wealth. It's sad, really, but then they have rarely been really innovative (I think "Bob" was a real innovation--but it was also slow and cumbersome, and MS backed down when they were blasted by other geeks--once again ignoring the real people using their products.)
"Innovation" was always Gate's whine, but it was so rarely apparent that just seemed like a battle CRY for "stop trying to stop us from crushing the competition!"
Anti-competitiveness is NOT innovation. When Gates confused this, that's when MS lost their vision and their relevance.
It seems obvious to me that MSFT has no attention of attacking its customers and that this marketing effort is mainly aimed at countering the "I'm a PC & I'm a Mac" ad campaign. Frankly, I think not doing something to counter that campaign was one of the dumbest things MSFT has done in a while. Especially since while the ads were always funny, they weren't always entirely fair.
Any idea how much that ad campaign cost Apple? Knowing that might give us a better handle on whether spending $300M on marketing to counter-act it is a good idea.
Since Apple is a much smaller target than MSFT, I suspect $300 may be a little low.
In another news "OEM licensing for Windows 3.11 finally to end in 4 months". If Microsoft really cares about the customers, they wouldn't have created this mess.
What is more sad is Linux is not taking this opportunity to widespread it presence. I would have liked to see a campaign like Mozilla did for Firefox, instead of that there is Fedora 9 which is broken like anything and Ubuntu 8.04 which freeze any time any where.
I fully agree that spending more money on marketing might not be the best approach, but I also really think that Vista is in a far better shape now with SP1 than when you last tried it. I just finished moving my desktop to Vista and have been pleased with the performance and features.
Linux is lacking several tools that I need and, although I love OS X, Apple was ruled out due to limited hardware choices.
> > No, obsession with Microsoft is not the way forward for > Linux (or anyone else). All it does is remind everyone > who the market leader is.
Mozilla didn't tell everyone that IE is trash. There publicity campaign was to attract everyone's attention about the potential Firefox has. I didn't see a reason why telling about one's potential getting connected to reminding people who is the leader, and even if it does that shouldn't stop anyone from trying to get focus.
Good points. As a long time Microsoft supporter, I used to make my living developing solely with their products. But then outsourcing came, the money went oversees, and their products stopped being innovative, and I lost my enthusiasm for working with their products and technology in general. To the point that when I was job hunting, I couldn't stand to listen to another head hunter tell me about an exciting C# opportunity.
Anyway, I'm blaming Microsoft's innovation downfall on Balmer becoming CEO. It's just not been the same since he took over (which was sometime around the year 2000, for those who think it was just a few weeks ago when Bill G officiall left). I'm aware that it's a pretty simplistic and inflammatory comment, since things like the company becoming too large and focus on more lucrative markets like the enterprise took hold. (Not that Microsoft hasn't done some good products, just not with its Flagship Desktop O.S. -- XBox for example).
I really think that Microsoft got too large, and it's hard for big companies to innovate. Microsoft's been the new IBM, Google's the Microsoft of the 80s and 90s. And in 10 years, we'll all probably be using some uber-technology from China that costs near nothing and rocks our world. (I'm basing this thought on the old adage that the U.S. invented a lot of things, but the foreign companies really perfected them -- VCRs, cars, etc.)
Oh, another thing is, and you touched on this, it's not really about the desktop environment anymore. For example, I use Firefox web-browser in many ways like I used Emacs a decade ago. It's the tool (other than Eclipse) that I spend 95% of my computing time in (emailing, reading, blogging, posting comments, looking at photos, etc.). And because of this, there's not really any need for me to care about my operating system (as long as it doesn't crash, and my Windows XP doesn't crash, it's stable and so tweaked that I don't feel there's any innovation that can be brought to my desktop to make me more productive). This is one reason why I haven't bothered getting a Mac with OSX as my primary machine, as I'd only install Firefox on it anyway and use that 90% of the time. And though I do have Windows Vista installed on my duel-boot configuration, I haven't booted into it in over a year. After upgrading my machine with fancy graphics and more memory to run Vista -- which ran well enough for me after the upgrades, I went back to XP because with these updates, it was like a Rocket.
For me, the future is really about devices. While I don't own an iPhone, I think that as a computing platform on what it allows a lot of people to do, without a computer, with all the new software coming out, it's pretty compelling. I envision a future where more and more computing tasks are done away from desktops, from laptops. It's amazing how much I use my Blackberry and Gmail and sit on my couch reading email, responding, without even bothering to open my laptop anymore. I'm pretty much the biggest fan of my Gmail/Blackberry integration, which says a lot because I was working at Microsoft back when Outlook '97 was released and thought that was the greatest thing since slice bread and started using that over Eudora at the time....
Update: Just read Daniel Will-Harris's comment, and with him I totally agree about mobile devices being the future of personal computing. I even imagine a day (as long as software stops becoming so bloated) when we just plug our cellphones into a monitor and keyboard (probably all through some form of wireless connection), and begin our workday. At the end of the day, toss your mobile device into the pocket and move along. I realize there will probably always be the need for specialized workstations, but for 95% of users a mobile device is all that's needed.
My experience with Vista has been pretty good too. I upgraded my single proc Athlon based HP machine just after Vista shipped. The experience wasn't that different than upgrading to XP for the first time all those years ago.
Initial performance was a little slow, but as updated drivers arrived from hardware manufactureres, those problems went away. My video card supports DirectX rendering, so my UI performs much better than it did under XP, even with the eye candy.
On the other hand, I figured it was best to wait until SP1 to try to upgrade the machines I've built myself. I suspected it might be harder to find good drivers for a while. So far, that's been a good strategy.