Microsoft is making a concerted effort to counter the perception by many in the industry that Windows Vista is floundering, 100 days after launch.
On May 8, company officials shared (via a phone call) new data on the Vista "ecosystem" to prove the company's contention that Vista is more market-ready than any previous version of Windows. Courtesy of Dave Wascha, director of partner platform marketing, here are Microsoft's latest compatibility statistics, based on the first 100 days of product availability:
* There are now 1.9 million devices certified to work with Vista, up from the 1.5 million that were certified on January 30, the day the product launched. Microsoft believes it has Vista support for 96 percent of all the devices for which users are seeking support.
* Of the remaining group of devices that still don't work right with Vista, 4,000 devices are accounting for 85 percent of the compatibility/reliability/manageability/performance issues that customers are having with Vista, Wascha said. (Microsoft maintains a 4,000-row spreadsheet detailing any devices for which the company has received more than 500 problem reports, Wascha said. "We're chasing the long tail of the ecosystem," he joked.)
* Based on
Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit data(my mistake -- information from market researchers at NPD), that 48 of the top 50 consumer applications now work with Vista. (The two that don't: PC-Cillin Version 11 and Paws and Claws Pet Vet.) Microsoft is not counting in its tally applications like existing versions of Adobe's Creative Suite and anything other than the 2007 version of Intuit's QuickBooks -- software that its manufacturers have said they have no plans to make Vista-compatible.)
* Five of the top five antivirus programs now work with Vista.
* Drivers are coming along nicely for Vista, Wascha maintained. I asked him about seemingly never-ending problems reported by Vista users frustrated with the availabiity and quality of Nvidia graphics drivers. Wascha said, given the fact that Microsoft made substantial changes to Vista's video subsystem, he was "really pleased" by Nvidia's cooperation and said the Nvidia 8800 drivers, still in beta "are working really, really well." I also asked Wascha about users' ongoing complaints about availability and compatibility of printer drivers for Vista. Again, citing the fact that Microsoft made major changes to Vista's imaging/print subsystems, Wascha said Microsoft was happy with compatibility progress there.
(Readers: Don't shoot me: I'm just the messenger. I've gotten all your complaint e-mails about graphics and printer driver problems with Vista, and I'd have to assume Microsoft has, too.)
Microsoft is relying on a host of new, built-in reporting tools to gather (on an opt-in basis) granular customer feedback on Vista, Wascha said. At next week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), Microsoft will be discussing with its OEM and other partners how they will be able to use the same tools to obtain real-time feedback from customers on their wares, Wascha said.
Believe it or not, company officials still are declining to discuss when and whether Microsoft plans to launch Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1. The internal wisdom seems to be that by not talking about SP1, Microsoft will convince users to change their long-established planning ways and not wait for SP1 to hit before taking the upgrade plunge.
"We haven't said anything publicly about Service Pack 1," Wascha told me Tuesday.
(Not to call Wascha, whom I consider a straight shooter, a liar, but Microsoft actually has said a number of things about Vista SP1, ranging from denying that the company is working on such an animal, to claiming it will ship before the end of this year, simultaneously with Longhorn Server.)
"Things are going really well for us," Wascha concluded. That said, "things are never good enough for us," and Microsoft is driving aggressively to improve customers' Vista experiences, Wascha added.
We know Microsoft believes it's doing a good job on responding to Vista issues. Do you?