The Letdown

When I was young, I woke up two days before Christmas very early in the morning. I heard some ruckus in the garage, and I went to investigate. To my surprise, my father was struggling with my Christmas presents in the car. Two days before Santa was supposed to come, I learned the cold truth. Santa drove a 77 Buick and worked for Maaco. That didn’t take away from the appreciation I had for my struggling father. It taught me that Christmas wasn’t about some random fat man magically getting into our house to deliver all the must have toys. Christmas was, in part, about getting all of that stuff to the kids without ruining the surprise.

Face it, Microsoft’s management fumbled the entire Vista project. If Microsoft comes out of the project learning anything it should be to stay mum about unreleased features. Perhaps there is some bias here, being TAB and all, but even Paul Thurrott thinks so.

Think about the dynamic here between Apple’s policy on unreleased products and Microsoft’s policy. Apple employees refuse to talk about it under all circumstances. When the product is released, the whole world says “Wow, that’s amazing. Who saw that coming?” It’s been my observation that Apple Public betas are more a tool for Apple when a paradigm shift is about to take place than simply testing new software.

Then there is Microsoft, who in many ways remains open about projects they are working on. Perhaps this is in response to the open source movement, customer demand, or something else. They spilled the beans on all the things they wanted Vista to do. Then, slowly, gained the reputation that VIsta is more of a new skin for Windows XP and some rudimentary metadata support. Here is the public beta, which has recieved the worst feedback of any beta to date. On the flip side, I do like Office 12 Beta 2, current stability problems aside.

It doesn’t make sense Microsoft. Vista Betas would probably be less of a laughing stock if the customers didn’t know that over half of the technologies were chopped out and the product is delayed over 3 years. People expect bugs in a beta, there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve tested Microsoft betas for my whole career, and this is the first that has completely not worked.

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