When Will Vista Get a Break?
There must have been a lot of backstage fretting at Microsoft in the days and hours leading up to the Windows Vista announcements. The name announcement came pretty much out of the blue, or at least I was surprised by its timing.
I can now tell you that on July 15, Microsoft held a workshop for about 20 media folks in San Francisco. The 4-hour briefing gave us a solid overview of Beta 1 of Vista, and we left with copies of a pre-Beta 1 release that we couldnt talk about until Microsoft said it was OK to do so. Hints were given that it would be on the July 27 and that the actual beta would be available at that time.
During the workshop I asked if a name had been selected for the new OS and, if so, when it would be announced. The assembled MS team, including the head of Longhorn/Vista development, Brad Goldberg, looked like theyd been caught with their hands in the cookie jar when they responded that an announcement would be made "sometime soon."
Several people left the meeting believing no name had been selected, but it was obvious to me they had been trying hard not to accidentally blurt it out prematurely.
I think Microsoft had hoped to get the announcement of the name, the release of Beta 1 and the analyst briefing to line up better. As it turned out, last Friday saw the announcement of the name and a promise that Beta 1 would ship before Aug. 3.
David Coursey takes readers on a tour of Windows Vista.
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This week, we had the lifting of our embargo on Wednesday, explaining all the stories that day, and the analyst briefing on Thursday. We still dont have Beta 1, however.
With its many delays and setbacks and now the difficulty getting fairly simple things (like announcements and a shippable beta) lined up, I wonder what else must be in store for this operating system. Vista really deserves a break, but so far doesnt seem to have found one.
The Best Is Yet to Come
I didnt make it up to Redmond, though I probably should have, for this years financial analyst briefing. This is the one time each year when Microsoft trots out its big names essentially all at once for an audience likely to ask tough questions.
We had good coverage of the event, though I am not sure I share Microsofts optimism that it can create big new markets for products and services. The problem, which is too big for the remainder of this column, is that Microsoft has a hard time creating products and services that people will actually pay money for. Upgrades are harder to sell, and its likely the only way Windows Vista will enter the market in quantity is on new hardware shipments.
I believe Microsoft has the ability to do some really great things, but its having a hard time creating products that are compelling enough to lead customers into tomorrow. Microsofts biggest competitor may be its inability to make the next versions of products so wonderful that customers will happily invest in them. You see anything in Microsofts plans that is an easy-to-implement deliverable that you really must have?
Neither have I, though Vista could be it. Have to wait and see.
Contributing editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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