Did you ever wish you were wrong? I mean, really wrong?
When BETA 2 for Windows
Longhorn Vista shipped, I installed it as I had many previous development and testing versions of the new operating system. I wrote, and crazily so, that Vista was going to be a monumental flop in terms of how it was perceived by people. Many people who know me well, thought I was way over the top - being dramatic, even... I wrote about how Vista was going to be perceived (very badly) and misunderstood and largely ignored. I worried terribly that the fall-out on all of us that build and support computers and the software that runs on them, would be profound.
Boy, I wish I were wrong.
A little under a year after the general public release of Windows Vista, and despite unprecedented improvement and driver coverage, Windows Vista is indeed perceived as bad. That doesn't just suck for Microsoft - it sucks for Microsoft partners (a little), and it really sucks for users of Windows (there is so much users are missing when they don't run Vista). There is the reality of Windows Vista that is (GREAT) and what the perception about its performance and value is (TERRIBLE).
In June of 2006 I wrote (blabbered, really) about how horrid the end user experience was going to be under Windows Vista - not because the operating system was BAD, or looked BAD, but because so much had been scattered to hell and back. I also wrote about how many people were going to expect to be able to run Vista on hardware that they had upgraded from Windows 98 SE, or Windows Me to Windows XP, and how that simply was not going to work well. Worse, so much of what makes Windows Vista not just good, but GREAT and truly INNOVATIVE, is completely transparent to end users, or so technically oriented, it just isn't appealing for users to read about - see, Top Ten Things I Love About Windows Vista
Recently, I think I found why Windows Vista has really had a tough time of it in the technical perception department and it is pretty clear to me, what is really wrong with the lineup that is Windows Vista, and it has zip to do with how well it performs, or doesn't as many suggest - it has to do with how much of let down Windows Vista Business edition is [it just isn't as feature complete as Windows XP Professional is in relative terms (to XP Home)]. Simply, the expectation that Vista Business is all that Vista Home Premium is, plus a lot more (BUSINESS) - like XP Pro over XP Home WAS (just isn't so).
OK, so small business users have to run Windows Vista Ultimate (I don't recommend any other version for most business owners and mobile users). One problem is that they have to pay more (OK, they get SOME more, but not enough to justify the greater cost).
That's it - that is all that is bad with Windows Vista - the lineup as it relates to the business version. BUT.... that's not the perception at all - that is FAR WORSE...
It seems that none of that matters much... PERCEPTION, as it always has been, is the REALITY people embrace, and people, (regular users), are the real losers.
THE REALITY of Windows Vista has been different for me, and our customers. Windows Vista has not been just good, it has been GREAT. I knew it would be, but sadly, I also knew it wouldn't be seen for what it was. Before I go further, let me be clear about one very important thing: "IF WINDOWS VISTA WERE BAD (TRULY BAD), I WOULDN'T SELL IT, OR RECOMMEND IT!" PERIOD. One, I wouldn't lie about it and two, I COULDN'T AFFORD TO SUPPORT IT. As a small tech business owner and operator, if Windows Vista weren't great, my business could not afford to sell it - much less live with it. Please see, Windows Vista - The Most Reliable Operating System I have Ever Used
As the year known as 2007 comes to a close, it isn't going to be remembered as the year of Windows Vista - part of it will be remembered as the year negative perceptions trumped reality. People wanted failures, it seems, and there have been no shortage of people to tell them where they are. Vista has been at the top of many lists relating to technology failures.
That one is easy... "people are people" - a few are nice and truly so, but sadly, many are pretty mean way down deep (where it matters a lot). People are also tired; they are jaded and they have become very accustomed to expecting, even looking for, the bad in all things. People have been fed a steady diet of bad news, or the bad side of news... as is so often the case. BAD Vista, (just an operating system) and the perception around it, is just one more example. The war, politics, and rivers of hate - they are all to blame - all part of the unending flow of negative thought and energy spewing forth from just about every news and media outlet.
The eighties were the "Me Generation" - the nineties, the "Age of Political Correctness" - the 00's, they are just plain olé mean - "The Age of Meanness." Vista isn't going to get a pass, and neither are you.
So why did Vista (just another operating system) get caught up in the age of meanness? People are people and sadly, most are pretty stupid - not natively, or inherently so, but because being stupid is just easier. It's far easier to parrot what a blogger says than it is to learn and form one's own opinion - it's easier to just stay right where one is, than it is to venture out into something new. How many people are "stuck in a rut?" How few will do anything about it? In the age of meanness it is almost bad form to try - after all, what if one were to succeed and obviate the impact of change... what would be left to complain about? We're all mean now and happy for it. When all else fails... be mean... that solves every challenge. Being mean is the new "tough" - they new word for strong. Kindness? Well no way, buddy... that is the new word for insincere, or better, "weak."
There really is not one thing wrong with Microsoft's marketing of Vista. The marketing has been honest and decent. The problem is that Microsoft's marketing has been just that, "Honest and Decent" and that just does not fly in the age of meanness. Apple's marketing is successful, because it is all at the expense of the hapless, stupid, chubby, unattractive dolts that it labels Windows users to be. Apple's marketing is not honest and its not decent, but it is mean and mean is cool. There are many that would argue that what I am saying is just bull - just an old man's aged and tired rant. I bet, despite my years, that I could still kick the living piss out of any nine of ten of them [all at once] (mean enough for ya?). One side, the nice side, just doesn't have any appeal any longer - but oh boy, the mean snarky side, well... these days that just drips sex appeal and people line up for it.
Let's take some examples of what I mean and in the context of Windows Vista:
TRUTH: Windows Vista uses "Instant Search" - a feature that allows users to nearly instantly find programs, documents, emails and other files on their computers and other indexed locations.
CONSEQUENCES: Instant Search chews disk I/O for about a minute, or three [but not more] when Windows first starts.
PERCEPTION: Vista sux0rs giant root, because it is slower to make programs available for users than XP - XP FTW!
REALITY: In practice, Vista is way better than XP and users of it are way more productive, BECAUSE once it does load, Instant Search is well, INSTANT and users don't spend nearly as much time hunting around for stuff! Further, and what is not reported, or spoken to, is that despite the two minutes longer Vista takes to fully load, the user saves ten times that time in an average session, because they can find things INSTANTLY.
Op Ed: "READ THE REALITY SECTION ABOVE AGAIN, DUMB ASS!" (see, I'm being mean... er... tough.... and that is really cool, huh?)
Of course that is not what is being held out, is it? That is not what is being written about, is it?
TRUTH: Windows Vista has an integrity mechanism that features User Account Control [UAC], which works to restrict and control processes to user named space and subjects access to user approval. The integrity mechanism and all the features inherent to it, have made Windows Vista a very secure operating system and very difficult to compromise.
CONSEQUENCES: Windows Vista users can't just next, next, next their way through life - they have to think for a moment and make a decision.
PERCEPTION: Windows Vista's persistent pop-ups will drive users crazy.
REALITY: Windows Vista users rarely see UAC Elevation Prompts and when they do, the prompts take a half second to assess and approve. Users needn't enter passwords if they do not want to - they can simply click to approve the elevation (as when they install software). Once a user has a Vista computer set up to their own tastes, they very rarely see UAC Elevations. UAC and applications which work according to least privileged access permissions, really have made Windows more secure and safer to use.
I could go on and on and on, with one example after another about what truly does make Windows Vista great - the examples number in the hundreds.... BUT... it won't change a thing - not for regular users. For my customers, there is no concern, or any reason to read this blog - they are already, and always have been cared for and they already know they truth. Vista is great and there are nice people working to make using it a great experience. People who are nice as well as effective.
The rest are missing out and stuck in a very dark place that can't be much fun to be in. I worry about them, and what I worry about doesn't have a thing to do with Windows Vista (it's just an operating system).
"what, you expected journalism...?" "I just call em as I see em"