28 July 2005

Windows Vista - Journos do your job!

Note: this is not a review or critique of Windows Vista, rather a critique of the current reporting of it!

So, Windows Vista Beta 1 is now available, and I've already read some articles that stun me with their inaneness.

Let's deal with this one first at the normally reliable CNet:
Interview with Jim Allchin

We did change the file directory space. I consider that to be a step up. It was more than getting rid of the word "My." (In Vista, the folder that was once "My Documents" will become simply "Documents," while "My Photos" will become "Photos," and so forth.) We are trying to simplify it and make it easier.

So, I'm glad to see it's MORE than getting rid of the word "My"! But how much more? Is this the sort of change that is worthy of discussion? It's hardly original is it (er, Mac OS X from 2001!).

And the only other thing I could note of interest:
We've done some calculations of power savings that we expect. I saw a number that showed basically when 100 million machines are running Vista, the power savings around the world, it is unbelievable.

So I'm not going to quote those now, but we have made those calculations. It actually gets people pumped here, because we feel like, well, we could actually help society in a different way there, which is burning less energy.

So, finally they're going to implement a decent sleep? That was available on Mac's in what version? OS7? or even earlier? I can see the headlines now about Microsoft saving the world. But really this could and should have been done a long time ago. And PC's are already notoriously energy inefficient, though can't blame MS for that entirely.

What's also interesting is that this feature isn't even in Beta 1.

Admittedly, Allchin indicates that this release is for "bitheads" only. Fair enough, but then they seem to be trying to milk it for all it's worth. One last comment on this article before moving on to another. In relation to a question about the timing of the name:

Allchin: No. No, the work was done on a name six months, maybe nine months, ago, and for once we were able to keep a secret. And so I actually consider this to be just great marketing in the sense that we typically pick the names way too late.

"Great Marketing". Give me a break!

So, following on from this let's see what the weasel Microsoft-sponsored press have come up with. Here's one from eWeek:
Now, again this article is sort of pre-faced with the admission that the reviewer is not really a bithead and so this release isn't really intended for him yet. So why exactly is he writing about it? And what does he have to say? I can't answer the first, but let's look at the second:

Windows Vista is the best-looking OS Microsoft has ever produced and is competitive with, and in some ways better, than Apple's recently-introduced Mac OS X 10.4, aka Tiger.

Microsoft's UI designers have figured out how to streamline the familiar Windows user interface without losing what it means to be Windows. Vista will not be confused with Tiger, but each now sports a very nice user interface. This was a very pleasant surprise, since I didn't really have any UI expectations.

This is the key essence of his story buried about half way through - and of course picked up by the other press and run with.

Yet there are no concrete examples I can see where he has demonstrated how this is better than OS X Tiger or what deficiencies of XP it remedies. On the contrary:

I mention this because, if you're a B2, using this first beta release is a really frustrating experience. Windows Vista shows tremendous promise, but at this stage in its development it's not ready to be used in any significant way.

That's as it should be, of course, and I'd warn IT managers against making any judgments based on Beta 1, which is slow, lacks features, and allowed me to crash badly enough that I needed to wipe my hard drive and start over from scratch. For this reason, Windows Vista B1 sometimes seems more tease than operating system.

Fair enough, it's a Beta, and Beta 1 even. I've never tested a beta of an OS, so I can't say what you might expect. But he's reporting a great UI, when on the other hand it sounds like he could barely get it to work!

Then there's this about the "essence" of Vista and what it promises:
Confident. Microsoft promises security and privacy, improved performance, easier deployment and servicing, and greater reliability. Users are supposed to have greater confidence in Windows Vista than previous operating systems.
Clear. Vista, and I think this is where the name comes from, promises improved visualization of information, better information management, a browse/search/subscribe model for the Web, and better support for photos, music, and other media.
Connected. Vista is supposed to make it easier for systems, people, devices and places to connect to one another.

But then read the rest of the article:
1. Confident - well it certainly doesn't do that at this stage. He's had BSOD's and worse. Again, we can reserve judgement in all fairness because it's a beta. But neither can we tick this one off yet.
2. Clear. Well, perhaps. But we aren't given any evidence of this. And as the search facilities don't appear to work yet -"Instead, what I have on my Vista desktop right now is a confusing mess. It's frustrating to be playing with a new feature as important as meta data searching and persistent search folders and not have them working as I'd like. I expect it to be fixed in Beta 2." Judgement again reserved.
3. Connected. "I haven't had time to do much with the "connected" features, perhaps because I didn't find Vista a happy client on my Small Business Server network." So, judgement reserved again.

So what we're left with is an article that tells us absolutely nothing, but draws attention to the product, and tells us it's better than Tiger in many ways. Job achieved (by MS Marketing)? Is this another example of Allchin's "Great marketing"

This stuff is not worthy of anybody's time!


pauldwaite said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pauldwaite said...

I thought this, from the Vista factsheet (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/winxp/VistaBeta1FS.mspx), was quite good:

"Windows Vista will introduce a new organization concept called a Virtual Folder, which is a saved search that is automatically and instantly run when a user opens the folder. In addition, every new Explorer in the operating system, including Internet Explorer, includes a new Quick Search box that enables customers to quickly search through large amounts of content being viewed or to initiate wider content searches across the PC."

Heh! Yup, brand spanking new concept there. Gah.