Saturday, 6 December 2008

Microsoft Fudge

It's been a while since I've posted anything. So what's changed? Well Windows 7 is practically completed. Something some might pat Microsoft on the back for. After all it's like at least a year ahead of schedule? Well not me.

A quick brows through the various blogs around the net covering Microsofts' latest and greatest OS make one thing undeniably clear. Windows 7 is nothing more than a re-branding of Windows Vista. Something Microsoft beta tested with it Mojave project. Well it seems the beta testing is well and truly over.

The question now is is it fair to be so harsh on Microsoft? After all a new version of Ubuntu is released every six months and the development ethos is to do less but do it better. The answer is a simple yes. Here's why.

Microsoft as a commercial computer operating system developer has a near monopoly in the desktop operating system market. This ensures Microsofts' income will always be in the "billions" so long as it holds on to it's market share. So Microsoft aren't hurting for resources to throw into product development. They can afford to pay beta testers and programmers to do the grunt work of ironing out the bugs and smoothing everything over to guarantee a flawless user experience on supported hardware. But the reality is anything but smooth and flawless.

Microsoft with their near monopoly on the market can coral and influence other companies. Basically Windows should be guaranteed hardware support. But it's not. All the messing around with Vista held things up which meant not everything was ready on Vistas release. Even though Microsoft has seemingly changed very little to the underpinnings of Windows 7 some incompatibilities in software have crept in. Hardware interfaces with the OS via software drivers. If there are broken applications already showing up, what else is broken?

Windows isn't free. While apparently very little changes from one version of Ubuntu to the next, the distributors can get away with this for two primary reasons. It's free and users know what to expect. Considering the differences between Windows Vista and Windows 7 are set to be minimal, one has to wonder how much Microsoft are going to charge for Windows 7? A copy of Windows Vista Ultimate still costs well over £200 from Microsofts own on-line store. We also have to ask what exactly is changing in Windows 7? What are we paying for with this latest upgrade? If the Touch UI from Windows Surface that Microsoft have grafted onto Vista is the big feature then we're basically getting nothing.

How many folks currently have a touch-enabled PC display? Yet again Microsoft have failed to realise that OS upgrades shouldn't mean hardware upgrades. My current display, a Dell Ultrasharp 27", cost me around £900 as new. So if Windows 7s' pricing policy follows that of Windows Vista I'll have to fork out well over £1000 for the privilege of reaping the benefits of Windows 7 and I won't even have bought a new PC.

My prediction is Windows 7 will be another own goal for Microsoft. Like it's predecessor, Windows Vista, Windows 7 will be popular on new PCs only. But not because people actually want it. Because they simply won't have a choice.