Can Vista SP1 help polish Vista's tarnished image?

Summary:Rather than continuing downplay the fact that Vista SP1 is in testing and won't really matter (to many corporate users, it does and will), why not tout SP1 as the rock-solid release that Vista could and should have been a year ago? That's one way Microsoft could polish up Vista's rapidly tarnishing image.

Call it complaining. Call it whining. The end result is the same: Windows Vista's image is tarnished. And it's corroding more and more rapidly as the weeks are going on.

Microsoft has dismissed much of the Vista criticisms as coming from hard-core and hard-to-satisfy techies who always want more and better. But even some of Microsoft's biggest customers and closest developers are going public with their reasons why a number of things in Vista that are just plain bad. And these are people who have been working with Vista builds for years, not those feeling panicked when confronted with the new and unfamiliar.

Can Microsoft do anything to stop the Vista bashing? I think it can. But I'm not sure officials are willing to change course at this point.

A quick look back: Microsoft had no choice but to finally get Vista out there. Microsoft released Vista to manufacturing in November 2006. Company officials knew that many hardware and software vendors, tired of trying to keep up with Microsoft's changing ship schedules, had decided to wait until the code was final before trying to make sure their wares were Vista-compatible, resulting in tardy driver and application support. They knew system performance and reliability wasn't at the levels they had hoped.

In spite of these realizations, Vista management decided to try a few new tricks to speed Vista adoption. They decided to get deployment and evaluation tools into business users' hands more quickly than they did with XP. They also decided to push enhancements out to users on a regular basis via Windows Update. These were good ideas.

They also decided against discussing Service Pack (SP) 1 for Vista (as readers of this blog know all too well). The corporate message, instead, was Microsoft would continue to improve Vista incrementally via new downloads and Windows Update releases. No need to wait around for a service pack. This may have sounded like a good idea. But it ended up being a bad one.

If I were on the Vista team, I'd be doing everything in my power to talk up and fast track SP1, as Josh Phillips over on the WindowsConnected.com site recently suggested. (Update: Maybe Microsoft is putting the pedal to the metal with SP1. I hear testers got another new pre-beta recently -- Build No. 6.0.6001.16633 (longhorn.070803-1655) and the SP build now in installable format, rather than an integrated component of a refrehsed Vista build.)

Sure, service packs are not panaceas. But there are some good fixes on the alleged SP1 feature list.

Rather than continuing downplay the fact that SP1 is in testing and won't really matter (to many corporate users, it does and will), why not tout SP1 as the rock-solid release that Vista could and should have been a year ago?

And while the mea culpas are flying, why not introduce new marketing slogan? The "Wow" thing wasn't so wowing. How about something a little more realistic and humble?

[Poll=12]

Whether you think Vista is being beaten up unfairly or justifiably, do you think Microsoft can undo some of the image-damage with Vista SP1? Or is something more drastic required? (And if so, what, short of rushing a 6.5 interim update out the door?)

Topics: Microsoft, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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