Friday, February 09, 2007

The Tide May Be Shifting, Ever So Slightly

You know something's afoot when Microsoft's latest and greatest OS is getting lukewarm or even hostile reviews from a whole raft of technology writers. Microsoft apologists and astroturfers in the blogosphere can pretend it's business as usual, but Vista has been called a chrome-plated turd, a Windows expert (Scott Finnie) has very publicly decided to switch to MacOS X (when will Vista chief Jim Allchin follow?), and now comes word that Intel co-founder (employee badge #3) Les Vadasz bought himself a MacBook Pro. He joins Tim Berners-Lee, David Hansson, Paul Graham, James Gosling, Tim Bray, Amit Singh, and Bill Joy, among other notables — a very impressive group of tech luminaries.

Scott Finnie wrote:
After living with the Mac for three months and comparing it with my Vista experiences, the choice is crystal clear. I've struggled to sort out my gut feeling about Windows Vista (see "The Trouble with Vista"), but the value and advantage of the Mac and OS X are difficult to miss. While I continue to work with Windows XP and Vista on a number of other machines, I am now recommending the Macintosh for business and home users.

It's as if the scales fell from his eyes. Apparently, he's not the only one — Stephen Manes writes for Forbes:
Windows Vista: more than five years in the making, more than 50 million lines of code. The result? A vista slightly more inspiring than the one over the town dump. The new slogan is: "The 'Wow' Starts Now," and Microsoft touts new features, many filched shamelessly from Apple's Macintosh. But as with every previous version, there's no wow here, not even in ironic quotes. Vista is at best mildly annoying and at worst makes you want to rush to Redmond, Wash. and rip somebody's liver out.

Why would Vista elicit such viscerally negative reactions? Some of the comments seen in the blogosphere are revealing. From Mini-Microsoft:
I wish I had done more day-to-day home-use testing. I looked forward to using Outlook 2007, but in the end I've settled on Gmail for my domain. Same with Vista/IE7, there are a lot of obvious bugs and issues that if I had done more day-to-day testing I would have reported on.
I know you'd like to hear positive news about Vista, but we ended up sending both back to Dell this morning. Out of the box, both machines reported driver conflicts. Updating didn't help. The video cards were unrecognized. Now, this may be Dell's fault rather than Microsoft's, but Vista gets the blame.
Or from This Lamp:
Tonight one of my students was struggling to get some assignments transferred from her new Acer laptop (bought just this week) to a flash drive that I handed to her. She muttered something about hating "this new Windows Vista," so I walked over to her desk to see if I could help. She had only booted the laptop a few minutes earlier, loaded her documents into Word, and was now trying to save them to my flash drive--which is supposed to be driverless on any system. What I saw when I looked at her screen was a total freeze up. The mouse pointer wouldn't move. I tried to alt-tab between applications. Nothing. I tried a control-alt-delete. Nothing.

As I held down the power button to shutoff her laptop, I would've been speechless had it not been for the one word that came to mind.

No matter what's causing such incompatibilities, it makes for an abysmal out-of-the-box user experience. 'The "Wow" Starts Now' sounds apropos — just not in a good way.
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