Thursday, May 1, 2008

Vista Angst

I have Vista on a notebook with 2 gigabytes of memory and a decent-size processor, and with Vista on there, it just doesn't work. It takes over 10 minutes just to open a Word document.” That’s a quote from a computer analyst in a current USA Today story about the continuing backlash of both corporate and home users (“Vista struggles to bust out as business customers snub it,” 4/29/08).

Another IT administrator, with over 14,000 computers under his supervision says “I wouldn't put on Vista if it was free.…In the past, there's always been an important reason to upgrade, but XP (the previous version of Windows) is perfectly acceptable.” Analysts have ranged from calling the release of Vista “a disaster” or “the biggest blunder ever” and “equivalent to the New Coke fiasco.” Apple has made Vista the butt of some very effective advertising.

The story reports that users across the country are reveling against adopting Vista, due to its slowness, balkiness, training and help-desk burden, and minimal payoff. In fact sales at Microsoft of Windows operating systems are down by 24% in the last quarter. Even the release of a service pack bug fix has been a big disappointment.

With Vista getting hammered from all sides, many customers are just sitting on their hands, waiting for the next version of Windows. Microsoft has announced that Windows XP will no longer be available after June 30. But there is major blowback from some of Microsoft’s biggest clients, and it’s hard to imagine that deadline will be tolerated by the IT community, which is already organizing petition drives.

For hardware and software vendors in the printer and copier business, the problem is that they now have to support both versions of the operating system in full. That involves not only upgrading and testing software to work with a wide variety of programs and new drivers, but also training dealers and having help-desk support available for hard-to-diagnose problems, in addition to offering solutions for Microsoft’s (as yet little used) XPS image workflow. Needless to say, none of this puts money in the pockets of these companies, and introduces as whole new set of headaches, headaches that may continue for years until Microsoft’s next version of Windows is due for release (and perhaps a whole new set of problems will arrive then.