Windows Vista - Proceed with Confidence (or tread carefully?)

It seems that Microsoft doesn't want customers to wait any longer to upgrade to Windows Vista. The message coming in from Redmond is "Do it! Do it NOW!"

It seems that Microsoft doesn't want customers to wait any longer to upgrade to Windows Vista.  The message coming in from Redmond is "Do it!  Do it NOW!"

Try to integrate a Vista box into an existing hardware/software ecosystem and it's a throw of the dice as to whether it's all oohs and ahhhs … or it’s the running and the screamingMicrosoft OEM Partners have been given access to a series of "fact rich" fact sheets aimed at both home and business users.  The message that Microsoft is trying to get across is that no one needs to wait for Vista SP1 in order to upgrade.  In the words of the website:

Windows Vista is ready—today. Windows Vista is even more secure and reliable than its predecessors.

To be honest, I was expecting some slick marketing material, but overall I find the fact sheets, sample landing web page, banners and copy to be simplistic and lacklustre.  Here' for example, is a banner to help OEMs get the point across: 
Example of a Windows Vista banner

And here's the email copy:

Proceed with Confidence—Choose Windows Vista

Windows Vista® is ready now—and for the future. It’s more reliable, more secure and compatible with more applications than any version of Microsoft® Windows® ever released. If you’ve been wondering whether you should make the move to Windows Vista, take a look at the evidence: - Windows Vista had fewer security vulnerabilities in its first 90 days than Windows XP did in a similar timeframe. All five of the top consumer security solutions work with Windows Vista. - More than 1.9 million unique devices work with Windows Vista today. - Of the 50 top-selling applications1  for Windows, 48 are compatible with Windows Vista . - Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, and iTunes all work with Windows Vista2. To learn more about how Windows Vista is ready to provide you with a more secure, reliable, productive, and enjoyable computing experience—and get you ready for tomorrow.

1 According to NPD statistics, 2 Based on Q1 2007 unit sales, per internal testing and/or vendor statements; exceptions: an older antivirus solution and a $10 compilation of 3,300-plus games.

The fact sheets similarly fail to hit the spot.  Here's what I remember of the consumer fact sheet that I read about five minutes ago:

Windows Vista is ready now ... yada yada yada ... Windows Update works ... yada yada yada ... supports 1.9 million devices ... yada yada yada ... thousands of applications compatible ... yada yada yada ... Windows Vista is more fun ... yada yada yada ... more secure ... yada yada yada ... more reliable ...

Where's the "Wow"?  Hmmm, is there any real "Wow!"?

Now, here's the thing. I run Vista and have been since the first betas came out, but even I am waiting for SP1.  This is because in my experience Vista has two faces, and which one you see depends on the hardware and software you try to run on it.  If everything goes to plan, you see the Dr Jekyll face - if not you get Mr Hyde.  Buy a new PC and peripherals and you're fine.  Try to integrate a Vista box into an existing hardware/software ecosystem and it's a throw of the dice as to whether (to mis-quote Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park) it's all oohs and ahhhs … or it’s the running and the screaming.  My hope is that SP1 administers a dose of whatever Mr Hyde needs to calm himself down.  Nowhere can I get an answer as to when I can expect SP1 for Vista.  Officially it should be released during "second half of this year" which could mean December 31, but I've also heard rumors that it could be later.

I think that the other factors putting the breaks on Vista sales, expecially in the business sector, is the talk that the next version of Windows (Windows Seven) will be out in a couple of years or so.  If that's the case, I can see this plenty of IT admins waiting it out.

What the fact sheets prove to me is that beyond vague feelings of "yeah, Vista is better than XP," not even Microsoft can quite put their finger on the "Wow" stuff.

[Updated: June 21, 2007 @ 6.40 am]  My blogging colleague Mary Jo Foley has more coverage of the "fact pack" here.