Can Vista SP1 help polish Vista's tarnished image?

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.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows

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 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?


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


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Sticking Vista back together with Band-Aids...

    ...isn't likely to help much.
    Henrik Moller
    • huh?

      What does this comment even mean?
      • It means Vista is going to take a lot more time and work

        SP1 won't be the fix everything in Vista rememdy as it's going to take a lot more time and a lot more work to make Vista what it should be, can be and hopefully, will be. For those out there that are running little more than Vista, no need to concern yourselves but for those that are running programs and special hardware that requires custom configuration, well, it's a gamble at best.
        • Isnt SP1 'unofficially' out??

          the faster *some* issues are fixed, the less MS will be called bad names....
  • Vista my experience

    We have a new 64 bit Vista dual core PC. We have not had any problems with it and all software works just fine. I think the code is way bloated compared to XP and they need to slim the install down for the next Windows release. I do think the startup and shutdown times are too long.
    • re: 64 bit Vista

      yup, makes more sense then that old 32-bit technology. ;-)

      gnu/ choice to the nex(11)t generation.
      Arm A. Geddon
    • Define we, define all software and hardware

      I really have to reply to your post as we is not definitive or even helps to give the reader any perspective as to how many "we" refers to. Is this an office environment, home environment, or just a couple who use a single PC running very basic applications ? When you say you haven't had any problems with it and all software works just fine, it implies you have loaded some software but I strongly doubt you have all the software that's out there or available. This is why I would like posts to be specific as to what PC they have, software, hardware, with any special configuration or drivers as it is common knowledge that not all drivers run well with Vista
  • Or not.

    Any new operating system will have some difficulties to be resolved. Including slow support from third party drivers. So it's not about the software.

    Instead, a number of people in the press and elsewhere have realized the significance of Vista: it cements the dominance of Microsoft and the desktop for years if not decades. Because of the emotional determination to oppose Microsoft, and perhaps proprietary software in general, Vista must be prevented from succeeding.

    It is, of course, producing substantial sales, and can be considered a success. The same arguments and counters, by the way, were used with XP. There was some justification at that time because W2K had been released recently, and the two operating systems were similar. The rejection of the fact of Vista's success is an indication of attitudes, rather than interpretation of the available numbers.
    It's not about the sales.

    So when SP 1 is issued - and it's unfortunate that this kind of milestone is still psychologically necessary - the acceptance of the operating system will increase substantially, as always.

    Behind the - sorry - FUD is the normal path of acceptance of a new version of Windows. Perhaps even more profitable and noteworthy than usual because of the huge installed base which accepts such change unquestioningly. Much to the disappointment of those searching for signs of a new order, the current regime continues, even thrives.
    Anton Philidor
    • Gee, Anton...I like science fiction too......

      You should consider publishing're so good at it.

      Vista is badly flawed. My new HP Laptop came with Vista and within minutes of turning it on the first time, it blue screened...twice! And there are still issues with it. The only reason I haven't wiped it out, yet, to install linux on the system, is I wanted to see what the typical user issues with Vista were going to be when the office starts getting new systems, and Vista is installed on them.

      I can see that Vista will not be on the new laptop much longer.
      linux for me
      • and can you say all the crap HP does to the os before shipping was not

        and can you say all the crap HP does to the os before shipping was not partly behind the BSOD.

        has vista got issues yes but has HP and Dell and other computer vendors who and they all do it install software that suppose to make you computer run better and more stable really does not.

        put out drivers made for them and their computers that are just slop code.

        yes vista has issues but lets put some of the blame where it belongs with vendors and crappy drivers and software.
        SO.CAL Guy
        • OK,

          for the sake of discussion let's assume your statement "yes vista has issues but lets put some of the blame where it belongs with vendors and crappy drivers and software." has some merit.

          Why is there a plethora of "crappy drivers"? Because MS is to lazy/cheap/sloppy to write their own. If you want to blame the driver/software people place the blame on MS for not producing their own and then allowing the "driver/software" to bring the OS to it's knees, Yep, that would also open them up to even more antitrust investigations.

          Pure spin. Come to think of it I don't want to discuss this. The NBM crowd reminds me of Darleks.
          • Exterminate!!!!!!!!

            Sounds just like the MS mantra!
        • Blah blah blah...blame the computer vendors who are forced to include Vista

          That's why I am SOOO happy to buy Apple computers. A single source, a single spot of complaint (of which I have NONE!).

          Get Apple folks. It runs Windows if you need it and runs non-stop (no virus, reboot issues).

          Microsoft only know zeros and ones! Apple knows hyper-connective bits and metals!
          • Apple is great if you want no games

            Apple has good hardware, a great OS, and is very well designed, but untill the put a video card thats got a bit more power than my 4 year old calculator no company is going to design or port any games for them. I know it seems silly, but even my mother likes to play the occasional game, and it's sad that the macbook pro has their best video card which is in itself not good for anything more demanding than a 3 year old DX7 game. Apple needs to get with the program, and maybe sponsor some game development while offering video cards that do more than just 2D
          • I'm sure the new Apple Leopard OSx will

            I'm more than certain that the new Leopard OSx will have much higher end graphics and be much more able to provide you will the graphics in 3D that you have been referring to. I have no real personal experience with Apple, Mac or Notebooks or their OSx versions but from what I've seen recently, I have no doubt your concerns for 3D graphics will be no longer. I've been very much surprised and impressed with this new OS which leaves no doubt in my mind that I will be buying a Mac Notebook Pro with their new Leopard OSx as soon as it becomes available in October of this year
      • Do you think 10's of millions of users...

        ... and soon 100's of millions will have the same experience and be calling their OEMs and Microsoft itself? Do you think it a reasonable conclusion that everyone who starts up a new computer with Vista is going to blue-screen twice within minutes?

        I've told my daughters when they were frightened by a TV news story that the reason it's news is because it's rare. Your experience is probably news.

        In response to Mr. Bott's comment, I suggested a distinction among:

        complaining - specific issues with causes and, potentially, cures

        griping - generalized complaining, with no answer sought or expected

        whining - bemoaning awfulness, and the unfairness of a world containing Vista

        I'll give you credit for griping.
        Anton Philidor
        • 10s of millions...

          As of the end of July it was estimated that around 60 million Vista licenses had been sold. This includes all licenses. Let me tell you what I've seen in real life...

          2,000 upgrade licenses sold with new OEM equipment to major insurance company in Indiana. Number of licenses currently used, 0.

          500 upgrade licenses sold with new OEM equipment to hospital in central Indiana. Number of licenses currently used, 0.

          20 upgrade licenses sold to small manufacturing company in Wisconsin. Number of licenses currently used, 0.

          150 upgrade licenses sold to power company in northern Germany. Number of licenses currently used, 0.

          I think you get the picture here. Vista licenses are literally flying out the door and are not sitting on a shelf or in a cabinet somewhere unused, unloved. Sure, at some point they'll get dusted off and used. That's inevitable. I'd be completly shocked to hear that more than one in ten Vista licenses sold were actually being used. One in twenty might be closer to the real number. That comes up far shy of 10's of millions of users.

          I'll give you credit for being comedically optimistic.
          • That's why I wrote...

            ... 10's of millions of users, rather than quoting the 60 million sales number. Some/many of those licenses are not in use.

            But many/most are in use. Those are the ones that arrive on new computers purchased by those unlikely to want to change operating systems.

            New computer sales have increased significantly after Vista's issue, and they lagged when the operating system was delayed. Might be some people actually waited to purchase a computer to be sure to have Vista installed.

            One problem with generalizing about the response to Vista: All general observations are wrong.
            Anton Philidor
          • Except for the general observation...

            that business adoption of Vista will likely be no different than business adoption of XP or business adoption of W2K. Very, very few will jump in at service pack 0. About half will test the waters after service pack 1 and the rest will reluctantly join in after service pack 2. A large number in business will do so only when their software vendors tell them they have to in order to keep getting support. This is the conundrum business finds itself some ways Windows is digital heroin. It leaves people feeling that there are literally no alternatives but to continue feeding into the whole upgrade cycle, even when things are working just fine the way they are.
          • home users mostly

            Home users are running Vista, but I'm not so sure about corporate USA. I know we have recently purchased 100 new machines that came with Vista. They all have been ghosted and are running XP.

            I'd be willing that less than half of the machines sold to businesses with Vista licenses are in use. I'm also willing to bet only a forth of the 60 mil sales went to individuals.