I couldn't help but chuckle when I read Mary Jo Foley's post this morning about Microsoft and its PC partners allowing Windows 7 users to downgrade all the way back to Windows XP, bypassing Windows Vista if they'd like.
(Regular readers know what's coming next, right?)
Apple would never do anything like that. When Apple releases a new version of OS X, excitement builds around it. Why? Because upgrades to an operating system are supposed to be just that - upgrades. They're supposed to be better than the predecessor. Why on Earth would customers want version 1.0 of a piece of software when version 3.0 is starting to hit the market? Maybe because they're still freaked out about how much Version 2.0 sucked.
Mary Jo points out that, with Windows 7 looking pretty good under beta conditions, there are bound to be questions as to why Microsoft would allow such a downgrade. Her quick answer: For many businesses, supporting different Windows is a nightmare and they prefer to have everyone working on one (or possibly two) versions. (Read: businesses didn't buy Vista.)
That's a nice spin, Redmond - but I'm not buying it. Instead, I see this as more of an insurance policy to reassure buyers that Windows 7 won't be the nightmare that Windows Vista was. If the release of the new OS turns out to be a big fat flop (again), then users still have a stand-by that works for them. In this case, that's Windows XP, originally released in 2001.