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Microsoft: Improvements needed May 24, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.

Microsoft has several problems within its ranks and with products. First Im going to address the fairy tales from the facts. The Windows Vista delays will cause customers to switch to Linux or Mac OS X. This is a fairy tale. Most consumers dont even know what Windows Vista is, nor do they care. They will end up getting Windows Vista either through purchases of new systems or pay an upgrade price when it is released. Even business users dont care about features such as 3D, drop shadows, fade effects . While these have some coolness factors to them they are not features. They do not help businesses increase productivity, features such as instant search, p2p, messaging do and there are enough third party solutions that are deployed that are good enough. The only real advantage to Linux and Mac OS X are the small to medium sized businesses who are always looking for cheaper and who don’t have bottomless pockets for IT spending. Those people may be interested in Mac and Linux simply for economic reasons. For Microsofts big business customers who do have bottomless pockets and have the money for IT spending do not care about the delays and sorry guys, you will have to come up with a much stronger case than a pretty interface to provoke a major switch. Its been said that Windows Vista may be delayed again. Surprised? no one is surprised anymore. With all these delays and broken promises Microsoft, in my opinion at least, has single handedly screwed up the launch that could have surpassed Windows 95. Its a non-event now. No ones excited about it except for Microsoft and gaming fans. There is more enthusiasm for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard that no one has even seen yet, then there is for Windows Vista. If it truly is delayed, its a real shame. Its a shame because Microsoft has done an awesome job with Vista, even though Im going to wait to deploy Vista until 2008, they have improved Windows and they cant share yet. The only reason Im recommending the switch in 2008 is so that these guys can squash any real show stopping bugs and since the driver model has changed so dramatically there will definitely be hardware problems. Older OS support from Microsoft sucks, this is a fact. Microsoft does not plan to provide backwards compatibility for Windows 2000 with either Windows Media Player, IE7 or MSN Messenger. While technically feasible its not what they want to do. They cancelled Service Pack 5 for Windows 2000 that would have had several of the SP2 for Windows XP improvements. But alas, no go. Microsoft cancelled Service Pack 5 and basically said that they know they screwed up with security and that they have fixed the problems and to fix the problems they caused everyone really needs to upgrade to Windows XP. Last time I checked, that sounded an awful lot like extortion. I asked 2 questions on Channel9. One under the title "A little confused" I asked the question " Ok, you guys are bring WPF/E to Windows 2000, great but what about the Live stuff. Instant Messenger is still only a Windows XP product, and what about the toolbar? Are Windows 2000 users just SOL or do you guys plan to make anything available for Windows 2000 under the Live brand?" I got no response from any Microsoft employees and they often answer a lot of Channel9 threads, and in IBM tradition, as IBM allowed in the SCO case where the Linux community basically demonized SCO, the community had a couple of responses but none that answer. On another Channel9 topic entitled "Microsoft recommendations " I asked the question: "If users cant upgrade but are still on older systems like Windows 2000, what does Microsoft recommend that those customers do in terms of Web browser and media products?" Once again the community responded and none answered the question and no Microsoft response. Now I am not saying that Microsoft needs to support Windows 9x because its a totally different architecture. But Windows 2000 was the base for Windows XP and Server 2003. There are enough architectural changes between NT 3.x/4 that those systems are not reasonable for further support. What Microsoft did to Win2k was a lot different. They closed their eyes and waited for mainstream support to end when they had more than enough time to fix the problems they caused. It wouldnt have been that big a deal since they had already started the work needed. Microsoft claims its listening to its partners and customers. But they arent listening to the 48% of customers who still use Windows 2000. Whats surprising is Microsoft doesnt get it either. These 48% are not going to upgrade right away to help stem the pressure from Microsofts forced upgrades they are going to use third party solutions and when they do decide to upgrade more than likely they will continue to use the competitions products because they know how well they work thus leading to lost revenue for Microsoft. They dont seem to care about that at all. Microsofts documentation and platform support. Microsoft at times has supported FreeBSD and Mac OS X and even now some Linux support. WPF/E Microsoft has said that they will support Windows 2000, Windows XP, Server 2003 and Mac OS X. But for Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris support they are going back to the old excuse that they have to enlist the help from partners to get WPF/E running on those platforms. Yet they have plenty of resources at Redmend, ie The Open Source labs and 60 Linux distributions to do the job. Are they going to wait for these partners to finish WPF/E for these other systems before they ship WPF/E? More than likely not. Microsoft needs to improve their documentation to help their competitors and open source projects more substantially. Times have changed and Microsoft needs to change with them. John C. Welch on Port25 brought up his dissatisfaction that the Shared Source CLI 2.0 was available for Windows XP only. While Microsoft is working on it Im sure, the pace for development in the open source space is much faster than it is for Microsofts pace of development and Microsoft needs to address that issue and for their shared source space, they need to really step it up a bit. Vulnerabilities and security issue resolve needs to be improved.  Microsoft waits entirely to long to fix its problems with products.  They need to speed it up. There is definitely too long a time period between the reporting of an issue and a patch being issued.  They need to stop bickering with security firms and get right to the point.  In my opinion there is no difference between a medium severity flaw and a critical severity flaw. Microsoft has given more support and has done a lot of work to improve its reputation. More still needs to be done and Microsoft execs need to quit making excuses. Jim Allchin has said that he is a guy that wants to do the right thing and I believe that. But when Microsoft says they listen to their customers and that they want to do the right thing, I have a hard time believing it. Microsoft needs more results and less excuses. As painful as it may be Microsoft has forgotten the old saying, "The customer is always right" when you start battling with your customers you will eventually lose.



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