Monday, December 08, 2008

Marketing; Microsoft; the whiff of the nearly-new

Microsoft is talking up the virtues of their forthcoming release of Windows. In the process, the esteem of Vista is downgraded. Pundits, too, seem to feel freer to hurl brickbats at Vista.

Two of the common complaints are that it's far too memory hungry, and that it asks too many (security-related) permissions of the user. I'm certainly chagrined at the frequency with which it asks my permission twice to perform a single action. Doubtless there are particular reasons for each of those asks, but from a usability perspective, it reflects noticeably poor design - and/or integration.

The broad trajectory of Windows releases reminded me of a similar phenomenon. The general narrative runs as follows. A band would release a new album and pipe up in interviews that it was their "best yet". Pundits, too, would laud it. Yet upon release of a subsequent album, the previous effort would be written off with various excuses for why it didn't pass muster - both the musicians and the reviewers would indulge in this revisionism.

Marketing explains all this. Software publishers, record companies, bands, have a particular keenness to talk up their latest product. Once it is superceded, they have little further need to push the old product.

Of course, some bands have a little more integrity than that. But it remains that they're aiming to make a living from their published output. What excuses for the pundits and reviewers? In part, they may be too hasty in forming their opinions. Yet if they're not at least in part swayed by the material sweeteners of the marketers, then they have simply sold their judgments short.


Anonymous said...

I look at Vista as something like Sinead O'Connor's "So Far... The Best of Sinead O'Connor". At least there is the promise of better things to come.
I believe the main problem with Vista for the 1st year was buggy 3rd-party drivers. Now it's resource hogging and bad-press.
Vista UAC was a great idea and no doubt it makes the system more secure however I agree - too much nagging. In spite of this I leave it turned on.
UAC is completely fixed in Windows 7. You can select a nag level - by default it won't nag you for actions you initiate yourself.
I have the perception Windows 7 runs faster than Vista but I don't have anything objective on that. The kernel is rewritten and in theory should be faster.
I couldn't understand Search in Vista and still can't understand how to use it in Windows 7.
I've been running a pre-beta Windows 7 release for one month on my main Media center PC and it's promising to be an excellent release.

S Simmonds said...

Hi Bill,

I saw (the beginning of) a Microsoft video that was attempting to resurrect Vista's image. A panel of "independent" systems people were playing apologist. They said things like "you really need to install it on up-to-date computers" (translate: it's enormously memory-hungry). Also echoed your comment on drivers. I didn't stay long enough for UAC, but doubtless they would have had their say - and yes, I've heard how it's much friendlier in the new release.

I thought Vista kernel was the re-written one (and thus not Windows 7?), but you may know more than me. I concur on your Search! - but would add that simple file searches in Vista are NOT reliable. A number of times it has missed files that _were_ there, and that is unforgiveable, whatever the configuration.

I've watched people use Windows 7 a few times, and it can look really cool.

Each release of Windows has aspects that are demonstrably better than the previous. But it's a really poor show to encounter aspects that are clearly worse than before.

Still. The simple thought behind the post related to the fickle nature of acclaim for "the latest". More realistic/honest appraisal is welcome, although ideally one would be spending a decent amount of time coming to grips with the new before indulging in punditry. And one should not be blinded by what is after all a heavy dose of marketing (which includes attempts to corrupt the pontiffs with goodies and the like).