Unless this is the first post you've read here you'll know that I like Windows Vista, not because I work for Microsoft but on it's own merits. (I'm sure I've said before I work for Microsoft because I like the products and the thinking behind them , not the other way round).
You'll also know that I'm convinced that a lot (not all, but a lot) of negative perception about Vista is down to ignorance, and problems of a bad press.
Someone had a bright idea. Lets take people who don't know Vista and ask them about their view of it. Then lets show them Vista and see what they think; but lets not tell them it is Vista. Lets tell them they're looking at a future Microsoft OS codenamed .... Mojave.
You can see the results of this experiment here http://www.mojaveexperiment.com/
CNET had a teaser about this story last week , but the website has only gone live in the last few hours. IT Wire has the story, so does Daily Tech.
James. No, I didn't miss a zero. 8%. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/143960/leopard_beats_vista_for_corporate_satisfaction.html
Ah: Nick: counting different things. That's only counting the most satisfied box, not the "just better than neural" box. It also seems to be asking IT managers not end users (which was our survey). And if you're using Apple in a corporate environment (which they say only 8% of people are doing) then I think you're bound to stand up for making the minority decision.
I think this has been a very interesting exchange of views. There is clearly plenty wrong with the way we have failed to encourage as many people as we'd wished to actually TRY Windows Vista.
Jon & Thomas> It helps that you have taken the time to express your frustration - I have asked PR to read this post just in case they haven't already done so.
Melissa> I too work at Microsoft as an Evangelist so clearly have a bias - I HAVE run Vista for a very long time and hence as you suggested I HAVE seen significant improvements in that time.
Unlike James I come from a UNIX background (both as an administrator and developer), I DO have experience of OSX and multiple current LINUX distributions. There are things I like about each operating system. I find Windows Vista is a more productive environment.
If you have more than a handful of machines then Microsoft's Active Directory really comes into it's own and I haven't seen anything comparable built into any of the other operating systems mentioned in this series of comments. Being able to define the required configuration of as many machines as you choose and organise them into logical groups (organisational units) and apply subsets of configuration settings accordingly is incredibly powerful. Active Directory can be easily configured to centrally manage the power profiles of each machine too.
Windows Vista's built-in and freely downloadable (Windows Automated Installation Kit - WAIK) remove much of the headache of building, configuring and deploying images.
Taking the consumer perspective - with Windows Vista I CAN CHOOSE from a vast range of vendors and machine models - the same is true of LINUX - if I want a machine that can run OSX then I HAVE TO BUY APPLE (or from a single 3rd party who are likely to be sued into submission) - this seriously limits my choice.
My experience is that most people I know who've tried Vista really like it without any external influence coaching them. Many people who haven't actually tried Vista harbour bad feelings about it.
There is plenty of third party evidence to agree with my view that Windows Vista is without question the most secure and most productive version of Windows.
I work in in the UK PR team at Microsoft and obviously it concerns me to see that any UK journalists feel they are not getting the service they need from Microsoft. In short, I'm sorry if we have not been provding you with the access and information you need.
Jon and Thomas - I need to look into what you have said about reviewers workshops/ access to product managers etc. It is certainly the case that there are not as many International reviewers workshops in Redmond as there were, say, a decade ago. However, that should not in itself mean a reduction in the insight and understanding of our platform that you receive.
I do want to just pick up on one point. The press centre is not "gone". We have changed the service we provide. We still have one central email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a new lower tariff central phone number (0845 602 5628) for all media enquiries. Enquiries to these points are immediately forwarded through to the PR teams closest to the subject matter.
This is a better way of organising the service as it removes the false divide between the team that services your inbound request and the team that contacts you proactively about news and developments at Microsoft (accepting that you say you aren't getting these). You now speak to the same people about your Windows Server enquiries as your invitation to a Windows Server event. This reduces any confusion at this end about who has been talking to you about what. This should result in a more integrated experience for you as a journalist.
In the meantime, my email is jatutt at Microsoft dot com. Please do always get in contact directly with me if there is anything we can provide you with that you feel you are not getting already or if you feel the service is not up to scratch.
I'll pick up with both Jon and Thomas offline about their experiences.
It's cool that you've used the other OSs -- that experience makes you much less prone to the Dunning-Kruger effect that I was talking about in my earlier comments. And it's good that you prefer Vista -- presumably, it would suck to be a Microsoft evangelist
if you didn't.
> If you have more than a handful of machines then Microsoft's Active Directory really comes into it's own and I haven't seen anything comparable built into any of the other operating systems mentioned in this series of comments. Being able to define the
required configuration of as many machines as you choose and organise them into logical groups (organisational units) and apply subsets of configuration settings accordingly is incredibly powerful. Active Directory can be easily configured to centrally manage
the power profiles of each machine too.
Much of what's in Active Directory was in Novell's NDS long before Microsoft had a serious contender for the server niche. NDS still exists, and Red Hat has a free directory product, too, with a number of configuration and provisioning systems that can
take advantage of those data sources. Apple's Open Directory also supports most of the features you mention (including adjusting power settings; enforcing Dock contents, application restrictions, or other preference choices; and much more).
> Windows Vista's built-in and freely downloadable (Windows Automated Installation Kit - WAIK) remove much of the headache of building, configuring and deploying images.
You say this is new in Vista? What did people do in XP? Other operating systems have also had options for automating the installation of machines for years. For example, Red Hat/Fedora has Kickstart, which lets you netboot a machine and installs complete
system; Debian-derived systems have a similar tool called FAI. (If you like "choice", Ubuntu supports both of these options, as well as replicator, systemimager, autoinstall, and a preseeding option for the Ubuntu Installer itself!) Linux has had these tools
for a long time, and the most popular ones aren't based on images, but instead install packages, which makes customization and support for heterogenous computing environments easier than image-based systems.
> Taking the consumer perspective - with Windows Vista I CAN CHOOSE from a vast range of vendors and machine models - the same is true of LINUX - if I want a machine that can run OSX then I HAVE TO BUY APPLE (or from a single 3rd party who are likely to
be sued into submission) - this seriously limits my choice.
Given the commoditization of computer hardware, much of the choice when it comes to hardware is meaningless -- you can find essentially the same hardware from Dell, Apple, HP, Lenovo, and Toshiba. The recent article on Tom's Hardware refuting the idea that
Macs are more expensive
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/apple-mac-leopard-windows-vista,1985.html was possible in part because you can compare essentially "the same laptop" or "the same desktop" from different vendors.
Of course, there still are points of difference. Some brands have better styling, some have a better reputation for reliability, customer support, and so forth. But the trade-offs here don't necessarily make it easier to make a choice -- "This one has
tech support in India, but it isn't as ugly as that one", "This one uses F7 to detect displays, but that one uses F5, I wonder why...?", "This one comes with Vista Home Basic, and that one comes with Home Premium, but I can upgrade to Ultimate for only $50
more", and so forth.
Some people believe that "if some is good, more is better", but that maxim isn't actually true for a lot of things, and it certainly isn't for choice. Even though people often want to have "more choice", having a "vast range" of choices often leaves people
less sure they're making the right decision and less happy with the decisions they eventually do make. The problem with the idea that "more is better" is that once you have "enough" the "betterness" of more diminishes quickly; thus people don't need a "vast
range" of choices, they need enough choice to be able to make a good decision. Barry Schwartz covers this phenomenon well in his book _The Paradox of Choice_, summarized in his TED talk at
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html . Related ideas are described in Daniel Gilbert's _Stumbling on Happiness_, with a TED talk at
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html . (As a personal anecdote on this phenomena, I didn't have a mobile phone for a long time because the myriad of possible networks, contracts, and handsets meant that I had so much
choice it induced paralysis -- I didn't even want to have the best deal, I just didn't want to do something totally foolish and be locked into my bad choice for years.)
So the issue with choice and the Mac is not whether you have "a vast range of vendors and machine models", but whether you can find a machine that meets your needs well. For many people, Apple's range of hardware options is a pretty good fit. In fact,
even if you suppose that half of the population found Apple's options unworkably restrictive (pretty ridiculous), that'd still give Apple room to grow their market share 10% a year for 20 years (i.e., about 700% total). If you're after something in the low-price,
low-features market, you may be disappointed, and if you want a niche item, like a tablet computer, you'll also find nothing from Apple (but you can buy the third party "Modbook"
http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbook if you really do want such a thing running Mac OS X).
Because Microsoft seems to want to have at least a 90% market share and support a vast number of (rarely needed) choices, it faces challenges with Vista that Apple doesn't face. As Steve Balmer said in his widely-reported all-hands memo
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/144227.asp , "But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises
to the end-to-end experience."
Although I'm sure that some of the criticisms of Vista are valid (and are worth listening to), I'm also sure it's no fun to witness people who know nothing about Vista trashing it with misinformed nonsense, which I'm sure you must experience at least some
of the time. I suppose it does at least provide a reminder of how frustrating it can be to hear someone spouting misinformation though, and hey, at least the people trashing Vista (mostly) aren't being rude about the people who use it (e.g., saying they are
snobs, superficial, or so foolish that when they say, "I've tried the alternatives, and I like this best", they must be mistaken), which I've seen in reference to other operating systems.
[And please can we close this thread now. James]