Mental Ward

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Is Vista On the Way Down?

Vista, folks, is in trouble. Big trouble. Microsoft's latest desktop OS now faces a class-action lawsuit, on top of all the other issues that continue to dog it nonstop. Even Microsoft execs, according to internal e-mails, hated it.

I've been wrong plenty on technology topics, but on Vista, I've been right. I felt almost out of the gate that it was going to have trouble gaining traction in the consumer and business markets. There has, of course, been lots of talk about application incompatibility and driver problems. But the main issue, it has always seemed to me, was a simple one: Windows XP works well. Darn well. It has a huge ecosystem around it, and is extremely stable. It does what most users need it to do.

In other words, if you use XP on a daily basis, what was the "killer app" that made you want to upgrade? What reason did you have to rip out a perfectly good OS and install a brand-new one; especially one that required more horsepower than the old one? We're not talking about an upgrade from Windows 95 or 98 to Windows 2000 or XP here; there were plenty of very good reasons to upgrade in that case. What's the reason here?

Microsoft could have actually used virtualization here to mitigate some of the issues. It could have included Virtual PC in the base OS, the way it's integrated Hyper-V into Windows Server 2008. It could have even made Windows XP a virtual appliance, so users would have a way to access all their non Vista-ready apps, devices and so on. Then they may have been able to find out what Vista could do for them while not having to deal with all the incompatibility issues.

That isn't to say that Vista is a bad OS. It isn't; I've been using it for more than a year now, and like it (as do my kids). But given its problems, and the growing perception that it's edging closer to the cliff, it may not ultimately matter whether it's any good or not.

My guess is that Microsoft is working feverishly to get Windows 7, as it may realize that Vista is teetering on the edge, and may soon fall into the sea -- the way the war elephants did in 300.

Posted by Keith Ward on 03/10/2008 at 12:48 PM


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