Why is Vista lame?

Why is Vista lame?

Summary: Update: a few folks have taken me to task for calling Vista lame. For the record, I don't have an opinion about Vista as I've never seen it.

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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Update: a few folks have taken me to task for calling Vista lame. For the record, I don't have an opinion about Vista as I've never seen it. I live in a small town in the mountains of northern Arizona, so I rely on the reviews of other people, like Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post and David Pogue of the New York Times. However, Mike, our local PC support guy, - no Macs for him! - just gave me his one word Vista review: "nightmare." He encourages the locals to wait a while before buying it. So whether you love Vista or if, like me, you've never seen it, the focus of my comments is on the impossibility of pegging market requirements five years out. And now back to the original post.

Critical reception of Vista is cool, at best. Yet I know Microsoft didn't set out to create a mediocre product. They have a lot of smart, passionate people who really want to create industry leading products. It is just that, on their flagship product, they haven't.

Explanations abound, with the need to preserve compatibility a popular one. Yet compatibility is problem that has been managed with a number of strategies over the years. I see a deeper problem.

Harmonic convergence In the last 25 years I've brought a lot of new computer products to market, including some multi-billion dollar ones, and some - cough, cough - less successful.

Success requires vision Engineering takes time. In that time markets evolve. Needs and desires change. Technologies emerge. Price points (usually) drop.

The key is a clear vision of the market at the time the product ships. Customer needs. Competitive products. New applications. Price levels. Distribution. And more.

Engineers can build just about anything if they have enough time and money. The problem is arriving at the market with something people want to buy.

Limits of the crystal ball A superior marketer who knows the markets, applications and technology, can forecast market requirements 24 months out with an accuracy of 90% or better. That is, if they forecast 100 requirements for April 2009, at least 90% will still be valid and no new ones added.

Push that out to 36 months though, April 2010, and accuracy plummets to about 70%, and new requirements have probably emerged. Which means the engineers have labored for three years to get a product that is only two-thirds right. Put another way, one-third of their labor and time are wasted. 70% may get a product that makes back its investment, but it won't be a home run.

Now, look out 48 months, to April 2011, and all bets are off. Whole new markets and technologies can emerge in four years. More nimble competitors may have unveiled two generations of new products. Customer needs will mature and change. You may get lucky and still hit the mark, but luck is not a plan.

Vista's 5 year development cycle is the problem Microsoft needs to get back to 24 month development cycles. There is really no choice. No one can predict what the customer hot buttons will be in 60 months, or what Google, Apple, Linux or the European Union will have done.

You set out on the journey with a backpack full of shorts, flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts, only to arrive in the midst of a raging blizzard. You don't look smart and you now have a lot of shopping to do.

I'd like to see Microsoft get its act together I think competition is a Good Thing. Hiring smart guys like Ray Ozzie is a good idea, but Nostradamus himself can't save you with 5 year development cycles. We'll know they're serious when they fix that.

Until then, mighty Microsoft will continue to bring forth mediocre products, a day late and a dollar short.

Comments welcome, but please if you can't address the substance of my argument in some rational way, save the troll-rants for someone who cares. Thanks!

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

About

Robin Harris has been a computer buff for over 35 years and selling and marketing data storage for over 30 years in companies large and small.

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  • What should Vista be?

    I think that people forget that a new version of Windows is a major undertaking that involves the coordination of probably hundreds of thousands of people, most outside of Microsoft. All the third parties that develop for the Windows platform have to develop new software, drivers, hardware etc.

    Vista was more of an architectural release than anything. While not perfect, it does have better security than Windows XP. And there are a lot of features like DX10 that is going to usher in a new era in gaming, and developers are still working on it. .NET 3.0 has some very interesting capabilities for developing new types of rich clients as well, and some of those capabilities are Vista only.

    The release of Vista was just the start of this process. The OS is the sum of its parts, especially Windows OS?s with the enormous third party development army behind it. This is a process that takes time.

    Yes, five years might have been long, but at the same time, how many drivers still need to be released for Vista? How many applications are broken under Vista, even with the long development cycle? Quite a lot for five years.

    So yes, not a super wow bang beginning, but over the coming year we?re going to see more and more Vista only stuff that?s going to make people really go ?Wow!?
    Heatlesssun1
    • How do you like working for Microsoft?

      Is Redmond nice? Are you enjoying the corporate culture out there? You know, your company will make money whether or not your product is good, you have reached a level where you can survive on mediocrity. There's no need to be the best anymore. I'll stick with XP for another year or two, and switch to Vista when most of the bugs have been ironed out. There's no need for upgrade at this point.

      -Dingo
      Master Dingo
      • how would you like to work for the tabloids

        Nothing of substance in your comment, just some trash.
        code_Warrior
    • Had to LAUGH!

      Sounds like real good arguments to buy a Mac. I routinely leave my Macs (OSX) running without reboots for 9 months or more, and one of those machines has kids using it every day. And "Mr. Security" doesn't bug me when I want to perform simple file operations. Vista is a turkey, and probably unfixable unless M$ strips out 80% of the new crapola they built into it......
      wjgrimm
    • Re: What should VISTA be.

      After five years it should be a lot more than it is. Where is the new revolutionary file system M$ promised? There is nothing really new at all. Security? After XP anything seems like an improvement. This is just an attempt to force the public to accept whatever M$ puts out. Why else are they refusing to release DX10 to XP? All the experts say it is imminently possible. But then they'd have no selling points at all. Aero? Look at Beryl for Linux if you want to see possibilities. And that's free. M$ is determined to force their bloatware down the world's throat. That's Arrogance at work.
      Ole Rellik
  • Vista has been on a downward spiral for years

    Ever since about 2003/4 perception of Vista has been in decline. First there were the promises - all the great things that Vista would do. WinFS, etc.

    Then they chucked it all and started again.

    WinFS went out the window, other components went as well or got scaled back. The delivery schedule started to slip, staff started getting fired or reprimanded.

    Finally it gets pushed out the door with significant faults still in it. In foreign markets it costs double what XP did. And you're posting on here wondering what the problem is? Microsoft has tarnished Vista with their own ineptness before it even got out the door. The old mix of vapourware and marketing - over promise and under deliver has done for Vista.

    Excuses are lame. We're told that they have some of the world's best programmers in Microsoft and yet Apple, Ubuntu, Novell, etc produce products on a par with Vista but without the excuses. Even Internet Explorer - we were told on the IE Blog that it would not implement the core CSS as these were "really difficult". What? How can Opera do it? Camino? Firefox? Just about anyone else does standards better then IE.

    That's why Vista is lame. Because excellence does not really matter at Microsoft any more. Any old PoS with a Microsoft label will bring the dollars rolling in because most people don't know what else to buy. Why both working hard when working easy earns the same?

    Microsoft needs Linux and Apple to eat its market share. It really, really needs the competition to make it sharpen up.
    bportlock
    • A Bit of Irony

      I completely agree. Microsoft has grown too big too fast and the only thing that will get them back on track is competition. For them to produce something really spectacular and exceed expectations, they'll need to be humbled first. Apple and Linux taking away their business will be the best thing that happened to them in a long time.
      TechnoCritter
  • My question is what do you want an operating system to do ?

    I am all for innovation but quite frankly I truely believe the modern PC operating system is now evolved. I know alot of you out there will simply laugh at that statement. However, for a very sizeable amount of the world population that uses a PC todays PCs/Operating systems do everything they want and are stable. We now have stability and a heck of alot of processing power and a somewhat secure PC for about $1,000. How many articles have we seen since Vista was announced stating what is the reason to upgrade and very few can justify it. Again, yes, there will always be innovation to drive the market and improvements for everything but the modern PC has come along way in the last 10-15 year.
    redtrain65
    • To work

      But I am not laughing, I agree! I also think the modern operating system as we know it to be is now evelved, and it's been that way since XP. Which is why many are asking why the need to upgrade to Vista. But Vista will be forcefed to the public via the OEMs (with every new PCs), so MS will continue the mediocre upgrade cycle.

      I feel the same way with Mac OSX, Leopard will bring new features but nothing groundbreaking (IMO) that will change the way we view our Macs. Unless they have a hidden surprise. :)
      dave95.
    • Agreed

      Yes - the real question is: What do you want, and are you sure that the OS is the best way to get what you want?

      Not only that, but: Why do we need change? I am doing my best to be Microsoft-neutral here:
      - XP works - notwithstanding the upgrades that are still being released every few days.
      - XP works - notwithstanding the fact that printers (for example), the longest-term problem for setup, still require expertise out of all proportion to function. There are plenty of things we would like to have seen fixed but Vista offers no solutions.
      - XP works - but continues to have problems with complexity and a monolithic model. Vista is evolved from XP...

      - Linux also works.

      - Apples also work.

      Vista is full of CRAP (David Berlind's acronym) - which no-one really wants, or needs.

      Vista has more bugs in it than a termite mound.

      Vista offers no essential new function, and no WOW factor.

      XP is mostly stable, and does what most people want. It is still possible to order PCs with XP. Or, given the cost of switching to Vista, now may be the time to think about switching to another stable platform with a longer future ahead of it - say, Linux. You have to spend the time getting to grips with something new, so why not? Vista will be replaced in 5-ish years. Linux skills will still be in demand - and you won't have to wrestle with continuous bug-fixes (if XP is any guide) between now and then.
      Stephen Wheeler
  • Are you the moderator here?

    You write the blogs and sit back and reply once in a while--don't come across as 'arrogant'.

    BTW, this is isn't a rant, but I have been mistaken for a 'troll' now and then.

    MS Vista is an *ix wannabe and fails on many fronts.
    There are many critiques out there so I won't elaborate.

    OK, Have some cookies and milk now.
    D T Schmitz
    • A *nix wannabe

      [i]"MS Vista is an *ix wannabe and fails on many fronts."[/i]

      Please elaborate on this. I've seen tons of linux fanatics spout this nonsense. I'd love to hear one actually explain why they think this.
      toadlife
      • My Take

        They tried to create execute permissions on processes, but they implemented it by a ruleset that can be wrong, bypassed or otherwise obtrusive/unobtrusive (then worthless) instead of inbedding execute permission in the actual file. In *nix, if root has run permission only, you need to be root, no rules stating if-then-else-unless-maybe kind of thing. (Didn't WinFS plan to have that, file controls imbedded in the filesystem, making coding errors less critical?)

        Non Admin, better but not complete. The main account that people are set up with and still use is admin (uac still applies, see above) with ease. In Linux, it is very hard to run as root. Mandrake will exit X after displaying a red bomb screen stating something like "This is really a bad idea". You have to dig to allow root with X (on some distros, others, not so hard), but *nix was built around non admin 99.99% of the time.

        Separation of userspace and operating system space. They have moved in the right direction, however, there are still, during install, cases where UserSpace information is stored in the system level directories/files/configurations/registry. The separation in *nix is pretty much absolute. I expect Shade or Non to point me to the exception, but I can't think of one.

        The final non *nix like flaw, which has existed forever, is the inbedding of the application in the kernel. Unfortunately, IE is is STILL, an application, in the kernel. As is now, DRM and who knows what else. I would have through that MS would finally isolate the kernel from the applications.

        I have no doubt that Vista will be and is a much more secure operating system than XP (which can substantially be blamed on 3rd party apps not working in non admin and OEMs installing with detault admin, no password, no firewall and tons of crapware). I hope they continue to eliminate the above 3.

        I still have to ask, WTH (why the heck) is a web browser integrated and critical to a functioning underlying kernel.

        TripleII
        TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
        • Wow. You exemplify my point *perfectly*

          [i]"instead of inbedding execute permission in the actual file."[/i]

          Denying execute permissions on a file (or all new files in a directory by default) has been present in Windows since NT4, which came out over a decade ago. You are confusing the MAC features in Vista with file system ACLs. Those permissions are not present by default because it is a huge impediment to functionality.

          [i]"Non Admin, better but not complete. The main account that people are set up with and still use is admin (uac still applies, see above) with ease."[/i]

          I'm not why you told me to "see above". Whatever flaw in Vista you are thinking of does not allow processes to bypass UAC and gain an admin token. There have been some privilege escalation flaws, but those have been buffer overflows in processes that already have elevated tokens, not flaws in UAC.

          [i]"Separation of userspace and operating system space...[/i]

          ...in Windows has existed since Windows NT4. You are spouting complete non-sense. The problem you are describing is one of ISVs and backward compatibility, not a design flaw in the Windows NT OSs.

          [i]"The final non *nix like flaw, which has existed forever, is the inbedding of the application in the kernel. Unfortunately, IE is is STILL, an application, in the kernel"[/i]

          Congratulations for buying into one of the most idiotic Windows myths ever. IE is not, nor has it ever been in the Kernel. It is a userland application.


          As I say in my subject, you've managed to make my point perfectly in your response. Pretty much all of your arguments hedge upon false assumptions and ignorance about Windows.

          To back to the subject of my original post, Windows is not trying to be like *nix. Windows is trying to be a better Windows. Things like UAC are meant, not to protect naive users (it won't), but to ANNOY them, and in turn to get ISVs to start complying with the security model which has been present in Windows since the mid-nineties.
          toadlife
          • I ondered how you would spin it

            [B]not present by default because it is a huge impediment to functionality[/B]

            Unlike *nix, file permissions simply are, never to be turned on or off, they just are.

            [B]not allow processes to bypass UAC[/B]

            Like I said, it is RULESET based, on if-then-else-unless logic that will be wrong, obtrusive (in many cases already) and is not based on fundamental logic. MS said, hmmm, think of every way a system can be screwed up, then make a rule. If it was based on fundamental logic, why is the ruleset evolving, being refined? I can tell you with precision why and what will require admin on *nix. Seems to be an evolving target on Windows.

            [B]You are spouting complete non-sense[/B]

            Simple example. Is the Registry important to system operation? Would you call it a "system file" or a userspace file? Then why will you find USER information in the SYSTEM registry. Pre Vista, the comingling of system files int he userspace and vice-versa is common, they cleaned up some, but Vista still has the problem, or did you miss the series George had on trying to run with a user where their home directory was on a different partition.

            You are right, IE is a slight add on. If you were part of the wine development team that implements running IE on Linux, you would see that elements of IE, an APPLICATION are, yes indeed, built into the windows kernel. This is not the ONLY application that has elements built into the kernel.

            You asked why people feel Vista, while a step forward is still not up to *nix standards, and you try to technospeak your way around my reasons listed. I knew you would, that's why I am back.

            TripleII
            TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • More ignorance on your part

            [i]"Simple example. Is the Registry important to system operation? Would you call it a "system file" or a userspace file?"[/i]

            I wouldn't call it either because it is both. The registry is not one file. It a transactional database made of several files. System portion of the registy are stored in the %systemroot%\system32\config directory and Users' portions are stored [i]inside their profile[/i].

            [i]"If you were part of the wine development team that implements running IE on Linux, you would see that elements of IE, an APPLICATION are, yes indeed, built into the windows kernel."[/i]

            Again, this is rubbish. The WINE development team has to impliment the API calls that are in the Windows kernel to make programs like IE run. This does not mean that IE is part of the Windows kernel.

            [i]"You asked why people feel Vista, while a step forward is still not up to *nix standards, and you try to technospeak your way around my reasons listed."[/i]

            It's not my fault you and other unix zealots are ignorant about Windows. If you learned a little bit about how Windows worked before spouting off about it you wouldn't have to be confused by my "technospeak".
            toadlife
          • You are not informed

            [B]Again, this is rubbish. The WINE development team has to impliment the API calls that are in the Windows kernel to make programs like IE run.[/B]

            No, they explicitlu had to and do implement the kernel modules that contain IE functionality. That is why WineTools REQUIRES the IE download and install as part of the BASE setup even if you don't want to run IE.

            [B]I wouldn't call it either because it is both.[/B]

            Does a system work without the registry? I thought so, SYSTEM REQUIRED FILE with user crap inserted. You DO NOT see that in *NIX. Excellent spin though.

            [B]It's not my fault you and other unix zealots are ignorant about Windows.[/B]

            It isn't my fault that you and other NBMers don't like having your misinformation called.

            TripleII
            TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • And ignorance train rolls on....

            It's quite entertaining to watch people like you make complete fools out of yourselves.

            [i]"No, they explicitly had to and do implement the kernel modules that contain IE functionality. That is why WineTools REQUIRES the IE download and install as part of the BASE setup even if you don't want to run IE.[/i]

            They are not kernel modules. They are called "libraries". Do yourself a favor and learn the difference between to two.

            WINE implements the win32 API via reverse engineering and uses actual Windows libraries to run Windows programs. IE uses a common set of libraries that are shared by other Windows programs - much like all programs written for KDE uses KDELibs. This is why you have to download IE to get WINE to work. It has nothing to do with the Windows kernel. The kernel only provides low level APIs. [b]Libraries[/b] use those APIs to provide the rest.

            [i]"Does a system work without the registry?"[/i]

            Is this "ask a dumb question" hour? I have one. Will an *nix OS boot without /etc?

            [i]"I thought so, SYSTEM REQUIRED FILE with user crap inserted."[/i]

            I guess you missed the part of my post that addressed this. Let me break it down for you really slowly. Maybe you'll get it this time.

            * The registry is a transactional database - not just some "file"

            * The registry is made up of multiple files, or "hives".

            * Each user in Windows has their own hive. Those hives are stored inside the users profile and hold all of the users settings.

            * Users' registry hives are [b]not required to boot the system[/b].

            * System portions of the registry [b]do not hold user specific settings[/b].

            By all means, go ahead and keep on believing that you know what you're talking about. It certainly makes for an entertaining read.
            toadlife
          • You are just clueless

            The wine team has to IMPLEMENT the IE functions inbedded in Kernel to be able to implement these "APIs". I think you need a refresher course on halting all that spin. You can't have a complete set of FULLY FUNCTIONAL application kernel APIs without imbedding IE application ware INTO the kernel, right where it is in full blown windows.

            You compare /etc (a system directory) with the Registry. Not even apples and oranges but STILL, SHOW ME ONE, A SINGLE user functional element that is placed in /etc. Owned by user and not root.

            Your argument that the registry is "compartmentalized" into user and non user "sections", boggles the mind. I can't even come up with an analogy to illustrate the stupidity of that statement.

            TripleII
            TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • Tripelli, you knowledge is so bad that you might have to relearn everything

            Tripelli, you knowledge is so bad that you might have to relearn everything from the begining.

            Tripelli, arn't you a little bit embarassed after getting whopped on every technical front. You're arguments are so lame, I'm not sure you know even *nix.
            code_Warrior