Rubbish title.  I know.  But, if you’d have driven the 6 hour journey (I know, it should be 3, but traffic was shocking!) from Reading to Manchester this weekend, just to see Manchester United be beaten, at home, by our resident French Premiership team, Arsenal, you’d have a rubbish title too!

So, what does the title mean?  What is the link?  Clear, Confident, Connected?  Man Utd’s midfield was certainly (easy to) Clear, definitely dis-Connected and Confidently poor.  Vista 1 – 0 Manchester Utd.  If only Man Utd could improve at the rate Vista is.  I’m not bitter. ;-)

Anyway, enough of the moaning – Seriously, I’ve been sitting (not literally) on a few different articles which have been flying around recently, all about Vista, and the impact it will have on different areas of our society, in particular, business in the EU.  They really are pretty interesting to read, and I hope to convey some of what I have found in this curiously-titled post.

The first of these articles, from MSNBC, talks about the security features in Vista, and in particular, the fact that the EU, yet again, are warning Microsoft that it may have to remove some of its security features from Windows Vista, effectively not shutting out rivals in this arena.  I seem to recall this has happened before, with Windows Media Player, where rival companies, have brought it to the EU’s attention, Microsoft has been forced to act, bring out an adjusted product, in this case, XP minus the Media Player, and subsequently, no one bought it.  While we do want to launch Vista in a fully lawful manner, complying with the EU in every way we need to, our customers have demanded a more secure operating environment, and that is what we are providing.  Just because Vista has a wealth of security features built in, doesn’t mean a consumer’s choice is restricted.  If an Enterprise has some kind of licence agreement with a major Anti-Virus provider, and they also wish to purchase Windows Vista across the organisation, do you think they are going to cancel their current agreement because of what Vista offers?  I don’t think so.  I still believe that they will stick with their original Anti-Virus offering, at least until their current agreement runs out – but anyway, in terms of security, Vista doesn’t come with Anti-Virus protection in the box; sure it has an excellent firewall included, but XP did after SP2, so it’s not a new concept we are bringing along here.

The result of the EU intervention?  “Microsoft has threatened a delay in the launch of its next-generation Vista operating system in Europe because of the new standoff with EU regulators”.  Surely this further delay, caused by the EU’s intervention, would result in a loss of revenue in the EU as a whole?  For example, an IDC study, over on ZDNet has found that Vista could create up to 50,000 jobs in Europe.  The delay would obviously impact this.

In the six countries studied, more than 150,000 IT companies will produce, sell or distribute products or services running on Windows Vista in 2007 and will employ 400,000 people, IDC said. Another 650,000 will be employed in the IT departments of businesses that rely on Vista

And it isn’t just about the jobs that Vista will bring.  Obviously, revenue has to play a part, but how big a part?

"Moreover, for every Euro of revenue that Microsoft makes, companies within the IT ecosystem will, on average, make more than 13 Euros, IDC found. In the U.K., hardware companies are expected to see 7.24 Euros of revenue, software companies 3.64 Euros and services companies 2.74 Euros per Euro of Microsoft's Vista revenue, for a total of 13.62 Euros

A delay would obviously impact this too.  So, what about the flip-side; say Microsoft took the Windows Media Removal road, that they took with XP, creating and shipping a version of XP which had no Media Player.  As soon as your sparkly new Vista PC hits the net, regardless of the ‘safe’ sites you may be visiting, sooner or later, with no protection at all installed, you are going to be in trouble.  Is this a good thing?  Would the EU prefer to ship the product minus a firewall, malware protection, anti-virus etc, and expect the average user to realise this (which eventually they would thanks to the warnings from the taskbar), surf the net or visit PC World and purchase, separately, all the different products to become secure, by which time, the PC could already be infected?  I think, perhaps, the better idea would be to include them as standard in Vista, but somehow make the user aware that they are not restricted to the included protection, and that other protection providers out there, will work perfectly well with Vista, and provide the level of protection that they require, and if you want to, go and buy it.

Windows Vista is not just a product of Microsoft. In the marketplace, it will be a constellation of solutions and services delivered by an entire ecosystem

I think that David Mitchell from Ovum hits the nail on the head:

"There has been very little uptake of the version of Windows XP that excludes Media Player functionality. A version of Vista that removes security-related functionality has the potential to be an even greater turkey. Security is a major concern for the European market and needs to be addressed on multiple different fronts. If the EU is going to ask Microsoft to remove security-related functionality then it needs to be very precise in its request and very clear about why it is making it. It has the potential to cause a major market disruption, with no benefit whatsoever for the end-consumer. Appropriate and timely regulatory intervention may benefit the consumer, but only if that intervention reflects real consumer preferences in the market and recognises the overall market evolution that is underway."

This is discussed further over on CNet News where Microsoft again is seeking clarity on what the EU want, whilst firmly stating that Vista is on track to launch on time.  I really hope it does – it is going to bring huge, positive changes in the new world of work.

Like the guys at eWeek say, “Vista delay in Europe will hurt Partners, Consumers...Microsoft and European Community regulators need to find common ground when it comes to Windows Vista, and do it soon, industry watchers are saying