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Could Vista fail?

Friday, August 08, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named vista.gifI was thinking about Vista yesterday when I was working on my Asus Eee PC, getting it ready to be my media workstation during the Democratic Convention later this month.  Permalink to this paragraph

I was having a bunch of problems with XP, one of which was related to the fact that it came of age before wifi did. The helptext and troubleshooting guide that's built into the system make no mention of wireless configuration, beyond a confusing wizard that creates a wireless network that emanates from my computer (I think that's what it does, I've gotten lost in it many times over the years, and the terminology it uses is incredible weird and IT-ish). XP has no help to offer when you're trying to figure out why there's no icon in the Network Properties window for wireless. (The manual for the Eee PC has less of an excuse, it was written way after wifi existed.) Permalink to this paragraph

This got me thinking about Vista, and why this computer came with XP, and why I wouldn't have bought it if it came with Vista. Why? Why won't I try Vista? Permalink to this paragraph

There are a lot of specific reasons which I'll touch on, but first, the main reason is this: Vista has the smell of death. I don't believe Vista will be around much longer. I don't want to be one of those people who has a computer that runs Vista, anymore than I wanted to use OS/2 when Windows 3.x was in its heyday. I remembered too well what it was like to use an Apple III when it failed to take over, as expected, from the Apple II. Operating systems can fail, and Vista shows every indication that it is one of those operating systems. Permalink to this paragraph

Now, what led to this feeling? Well let's work backwards. Permalink to this paragraph

1. They are running a campaign to try to prove, despite what people believe, that Vista really is a great operating system. They can try to appeal to our intellect, but it only validates the gut feeling that something is very wrong. The only way I'm convinced something is hot is if I hear from people using it how hot it is, all the time, repeatedly. I know one or two people who use Vista, and mostly they say it's okay, no one says it's great. Permalink to this paragraph

2. I think Microsoft is in bed with Hollywood, and when they improve an OS they're adding more locks and security cameras for the entertainment industry to control us and spy on us. I like computers that mind their own business and work for me, not The Man. If Microsoft came out with a marketing program for Vista that said "This is your operating system, not ours or Hollywood's" -- that would catch my attention. (They aren't saying that, and I don't think they can.) Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Netflix's DRM Turned Me Into a PiratePermalink to this paragraph

3. Microsoft lost me, bigtime, over their lack of defenses against malware. It was when I switched to Macintosh that I realized how painful Windows had become.  Permalink to this paragraph

4. Vista was troubled in development (it was called Longhorn), kept being delayed, people that worked on it weren't enthusiastic, their marketers kept saying it had killer features, but never could say what they were and they never materialized. Permalink to this paragraph

5. Everything is happening in the web browser now, and Microsoft completely dropped the ball there. I use Firefox now, and I have very little interest in an OS designed to run IE better.  Permalink to this paragraph

6. And finally, there is no demand for new operating systems. Little improvements, tweaks, defenses against new malware, support for new gadgets, that's what we need from OS vendors. The days of excitement happening in OSes is long past. I don't believe Apple can deliver there either, btw. Just keep it working, that's your main job, no one is going to be blown away by new stuff in the OS.  Permalink to this paragraph

Update: As always an interesting discussion has started on FriendFeed. Another thing -- in the 90s, before blogging was big, Microsoft had a big outreach program to build buzz around its products. It was really impressive. Now that blogging is established -- nothing -- silence. Esp when there's so much buzz around Apple, this may be the biggest mistake they're making with Vista.  Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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