Windows wars: Are you a dog or cat?

Summary: All this Vista versus XP versus Windows Server 2008 stuff got me thinking. Maybe its not just technological issues with Microsoft's latest desktop OS that is creating strife between the user bases.



All this Vista versus XP versus Windows Server 2008 stuff got me thinking. Maybe its not just technological issues with Microsoft's latest desktop OS that is creating strife between the user bases. Perhaps -- if we take a page from Jungian theory -- there is a fundamental ideological and psychological divide between those that prefer one system over the other.

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Just as there are "Dog People" and "Cat People", where our preference over one sort of pet manifest themselves into our personality traits -- such as those codified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicatior (MBTI) that some corporations used to determine job suitability for prospective candidates (and if anyone is interested, the last time I was tested in the late 1980's, I was classified as an ENTP  with "I" tendencies on the "E" which make me a somewhat borderline INTP ) perhaps there are Vista People and Windows Server People.

Certainly, the analogy could be applied to Mac and Linux people as well. But fundamentally, when you get past the various religious platform ideologies, these groups have certain shared characteristics that may define the type of computing environment that is most suitable to them.

The reason why I think Vista is having such a hard time in the market is that Microsoft diverted from an OS marketing strategy that addressed both "Dog" and "Cat" people equally -- the simultaneous marketing of a "Workstation" OS and a "Consumer" OS.  What's a "Dog" person in Windows-speak? Well, that would be a sysadmin type or an IT worker that just wants to get work done in an unencumbered manner, and wants expected and predictable levels of stability and performance -- someone who is accustomed to a Server or midrange OS that performs its functions in a utilitarian fashion with little frills to clutter the system and bog down resources. This would be the same candidate for the classic "Windows 2000 Professional" or "NT 4.0 Workstation" OS, and to a certain extent, Windows XP Professional and conventional Linux/UNIX workstation OSes. Vista, on the other hand, is a "Cat Person" OS -- They like glitz, bells and whistles, and are independent types -- Consumer Desktop users.

At some point, Microsoft stopped making separate OSes for Cats and Dogs. They stopped making Dog desktops and relegated them entirely to the Server, and focused their entire Desktop strategy on different permutations of Cats. Why? Because they looked at Mac OS X -- a Cat-oriented OS, came to the realization that Consumer progress on Windows was nearing an evolutionary dead-end compared to the Mac, and wanted to make Windows more Cat-Like. Unfortunately, in this process, they completely screwed up what was actually good about Windows for a very large portion of their user base -- Corporate America. Sure, I'll buy that the Cat people -- Consumers -- just love Vista. The Loyal Dogs like myself? Not so much.

Woof. I want my Dog Desktop back, Microsoft.

Are you a Cat or are you a Dog? Talk Back and Let me know.

Topics: Windows, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Microsoft


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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