Whew! I'm really glad to read on Mary Jo Foley's blog that Microsoft will not be releasing Vista to manufacturing (RTM) on October 25. Based on what I've seen and the discussions I've had with others trying to use the new OS on a daily basis, it's not quite soup yet. Jim Allchin and the Vista team have made a good call - ship it when it's ready.
Vista RC1 was a good release. RC2 tightens things up a bit more. But it just does not feel like all the nuts and bolts tightened down enough yet to declare Vista ready for production and release to the public. Too many standard hardware components are still causing fits and there are still a number of interface and plumbing issues that remain unresolved.
I've had the experience of working with Vista RC2 in a fresh-out-of-the box fashion side by side with the new iMac Core Duo I picked up for my wife from the Office 2.0 Conference and the difference between the two experiences is quite revealing. While I understand that Tiger has been out for quite some time and has been patched up a number of times already, Vista has been in development for so long and in in the hands of testers (how many? hundreds of thousands? million? billions upon billions?) for long enough that we're close to a production release.
And before the snarky comments start flying too quickly - yes, I do understand that this comparison is not completely fair. I'm OK with that. For better or worse, Mac OS X Tiger is the stick against which Vista will be measured by many. And it doesn't quite measure up in a number of ways. I'm not sure it will hit parity before release and I'm equally unsure that it needs to. The fact of the matter is that most Windows users don't have much of a sense of what using Apple's latest OS and hardware is really like.
But for those of us who do and who hope to see a solid, usable, and easy-to-support 1.0 release of Microsoft's new OS, that is the bar. I'm hoping we'll see Microsoft stick to its commitment to ship the product when it's ready and not bow to external pressure to meet an arbitrary date on the calendar.