updated 07:55 pm EDT, Thu August 3, 2006
Vista Moment of Crisis
The doubts about Windows Vista continue to mount. In recent days, multiple prominent critics have stepped up to suggest that Vista isn't where it should be in terms of code quality for an October gold master, the most notable being former Microsoft tech evangelist Robert Scoble. One of the latest to chime in is pro-Microsoft journalist Paul Thurrott; though he believes Vista could still be an excellent operating system if given time, he says Microsoft was "fooled" into committing to a date and that the beta has so far been a "train wreck." Could this be the a critical turning point for Microsoft, especially given the approaching release of OS X Leopard? More observations after the jump.
While it would be unrealistic to assume the worst fate for the company, Microsoft may have unintentionally forced itself into an unenviable position that Apple and other competitors could well use to erode what was once a stable OS marketshare. If Microsoft ships on time, it could risk delivering a buggy operating system that scares away early buyers and kills the promotional buzz; if the company takes the extra months it might need for stable code, though, it risks having no answer to Leopard's marketing blitz. And that blitz is something Microsoft finally has reason to fear, despite what Thurrott says:
Will Vista be ready in time? Honestly, who cares? After five years of delays, another six months isn't going to make a difference.Six months could make a difference in the current environment. Apple is finally seeing its marketshare improve substantially. The Cupertino company saw its sales reach record levels in a historically slow quarter; this was in the middle of a hardware transition and before a major OS release. Those six months could mean the difference between business as usual at Microsoft and serious damage control. If Microsoft loses the initial PR battle, it may also lose the previously unshakeable public opinion that Windows is, was, and always will be the safe choice.