The Letdown

20 Comments

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.

20 Comments

Ken

I’ll agree with post #1 by Leo Nelson.

The problem with Apple is that, by the time you buy an Apple product, you count the days when something much better will be released. Frequent releases for both software and hardware help for being constantly in focus, but it’s a little terrifying for customers. Especially when they don’t know what to expect.

Mantiz

Personaly i don’t see why apple needs to go to the enterprise part of the market. It’s very difficult to have an os that works great on every environment. How would you acomodate the needs of a graphics designer, a teenager who uses the system as a media center at home and 1000 employees at a law firm without messing it up?
Yes enterprise means big bucks, but as JulesLt said there is the big problem of backwards compatibility, wich is actualy one of the factors that keep apple ahead of the rest. It would be a shame if they would give that up. Less irritating, but a shame.
Another plus for windows is that with an os that has less built in features you don’t have to worry about concentrating on your work, solitaire is nice for a while but i bet it gets pretty boring after some time, hehehe.

Oh and “Myle’s aunt” i agree with you man, but you really went of to eat Myles head up there just admit it. Yeah maybe he was talking out of his * but it kinda flamed me that you stated, in a conversation about Vista – “MS hasn’t been able to inovate anything since they decided to steal the Apple interface during the transition from 3.1 to 95. THAT took a lot of thought.” – Like thats proving anything. i could say yeah but that was based on xerox and bladibladibla.
True but useless info already known to everybody, be it windows or mac user. You could find something like that about every company i know.
But… my apologies .

Ryan

“…and we all know the old Xerox thing.”

Apparently not because everyone seems to forget that Xerox execs were doing (and didn’t want to do) anything with their gui and effectively sold it to apple for stock. Apple only SAW it and then took the concept and created something totally new and innovative… folklore.org

JulesLt

Myle’s Aunt – I’d agree that MS do have some great ideas, and they now have a great replacement for Bill Gates – but they are a great big company with departments ‘at war’ with each other; we can see that at Apple (the engineers wanting to be open vs other departments wanting to use iLife to drive sales of Apple services). Multiply that by 10, and then pour treacle over it by saying that the prime directive is ‘you cannot break any third party code’.

1. Enterprise customers like roadmaps, but do not update quickly. There is a great joke on TheRegister about them releasing a placebo Service Pack alongside Vista so that enterprise customers can install it too. They actually LIKE having 7, if not 10 years between OS versions. You can understand why – if you have 2000 desktops, having them all running Windows NT is easier than some running NT, some XP, some Vista.

2. The people who really need to be working 3-4 years ahead are the software developers. The most obvious example of this is the lack of Universal/Intel versions of Adobe’s products. MS are trying to encourage developers to write apps that will exploit Vista’s new features. There are some still in there I would be using if I was writing for the MS platform.

3. The problem with roadmaps is flexibility. Apple probably did not decide to go Intel 4 years ago. Apple decided much longer ago to maintain the ability to go Intel at any time, and probably made the decision in the the same year they announced it.

4. It is a myth that Apple is completely secretive and only announces something when it ships. With hardware design – yes. Does that really affect enterprise customers – ‘I’m sorry, but we need to know what shape the 2009 iMac will be’? With the operating system – there is always a lag between announcement and delivery. Leopard has been announced for some time, and it’s feature set will be clear for 6 months before launch.
I guess if they called them ‘service packs’ rather than new releases, corporate IT would be more comfortable, but that wouldn’t excite consumers.

It is a shame really as accepted best practice in IT these days is to try and make your releases smaller and more frequent; it is much easier to test 30 new features than 300 – but we still fight that battle with our customers, who believe it is more efficient use of their time to test a massive set of changes once.

If you really step back and look at the equivalents, rather than the .1,.2,.3 releases the changes have also been clearly roadmapped. Classic to OS X. PPC to Intel. 10.5 will be the final PPC version of OS X. On current basis of Apple supporting the previous version of their OS, this means 10.5 will be supported until the release of 10.7 – at least 2010.
I guess this is the sort of detail customers would like to have confirmed rather than working out.

5. Apple’s direction changes (OS X, 68K->PPC->Intel) causes developers a lot of pain as they break backwards compatibility. This is rubbish if your favourite application is Classic only. It is really bad if you are a business who paid for a bespoke application developed on System 7. However, I think that overall it is good for the platform, and good for most users – unmaintained software dies, and is replaced. I can think of more software using Tiger features on the Mac than I can think of XP-only software on the PC.

6. Apple’s ‘innovation’ is often exaggerated. Apple frequently buys in third-party code and applications, and we all know the old Xerox thing. They are just a lot better at turning innovation into useful products. That is not meant to belittle Apple at all, as that is the important thing – getting innovation out of the lab and into people’s hands.

michel

I do believe microsoft will change in years to come

the whole winfs stuff is a failure

as was “cairo” stuff (the new “object” windows)

but this time is a very public failure.

About enterprise, who care about new graphical engine or whatever stupid stuff ??
we want to know the price of new office
we want to know how integrate sharepoint
we want to know if my crappy nt4 domain can upgrade to the new shining wonderful stupendous world of ADS (or whatever) in windows NT7 (or whatever they called it, yeah vista ultimate prime server edition)

so yeah, of course microsoft need to be OPEN about SOME functions and pricings and politics (and apple SHOULD LEARN that)

but, about general improvments and new features they should do what every good commercial man do : hype them when it’s TIME. not before, not too late.

Myle's Aunt

Wow, you guys sure can’t sense sarcasm when you see it, can you?

1- MS is MS. They do what they do very well. They’re 99% of the enterprise or something close to it, always have been. They’ve been in a lot of homes as well, but Apple is sloooooowly making headway.

2- I love the 360. I think it’s the best system out there. MS is like Sega imo, they DO have great ideas, it’s just they have so much overhead and commitee’s, they always miss the boat. The 360 is just brilliance in a box. If they stuck with a few things and did them well, there would be no stopping MS. Apple has the coolness factor, and they’ll catch up. We all hope.

3- I was a MS head for 28 years my padawan Manitz. I played with Basic when it first came out, so I have a little knowledge in my head. BUT…. When osX was released I sold all my PC’s and bought an Imac. I haven’t looked back since.

4- Myles seemed to have baiting, so I wrote what I wrote, but you had to come back with some nonsense. I answered him in a way you didn’t agree with, so nyeah nyeah.

5- MS has an incredibly long road map like David said. Apple does too, they’re only just now making inroads to the Enterprise. Let’s see how much cool stuff Apple can come out with IF they are able to get into the business class. I will put good money that they will not be able to keep up with the coolness factor because of the problems the workplace has when it comes to IT.

Is that a better answer?

David

Microsoft has to provide a long roadmap, as many comments have already said. If Apple ever wanted to get into the enterprise they’d have to as well. Maybe getting their CPUs from Intel, another company that provides long roadmaps, will allow Apple and their customers to think farther ahead.

The idea that Microsoft doesn’t innovate is false. They have done incredibly well in areas that aren’t as obvious as the OS. Perhaps their biggest success is Visual Studio, the tools used by the majority of the world’s developers.

Even if most of the success stories at Microsoft come from purchasing other people’s ideas they know which ones to purchase and the original developers profit from their ideas.

Apple certainly does a lot of inovating, probably the most in the industry, but they’re no saints. Unlike MS’s policy of buying good ideas, Apple tends to steal them, put a slick interface on top and drive the original developer out of business.

Mantiz

“So yea, he did reply to your comment” Well maybe you should look again to which comment he “answered”. I was actualy saying something possitive about your all mighty apple.
But yeah kinda having a bad day and went on a troling mission here.

All i’m saying is that saying that microsoft is copying everybody isn’t really constructive! Everybody knows it and apple hasn’t got a clean slate either.

“To start up the flame war, since your bating” why is there a need for a flame war anyway. just ignore him if you think he’s trying to start a flame war.
But ON topic, vista, yes big letdown, code needs rewriting and stuff said above.

Ryan

He did ‘actualy’ answer. He was pointing out that while Bill may be a great salesman (since he was able to sell what he essentially did not have) he (and pretty much all of microsoft in the following years) has done nearly zero innovating. All they’ve done is revamp what they already have (usually poorly, ala Windows ME/XP/etc) and rip off other people’s ideas.

No one’s saying they CAN’T rip off Apple/whoever all we’re saying is that it makes them ‘bad’, as you say.

So yea, he did reply to your comment and it’s ironic that instead of replying to HIS REPLY you went straight into troll mode about him NOT replying… which he did…

Thank you, come again.

Mantiz

Myle’s Aunt
Real mature. instead of actualy trying to answer you rip on Micro$.
You should be a p.r. manager for apple or something.
You really made me like apple even more because… it’s better then that backstabbing, stealing microsoft. Am i right? he? apple good, m$ always bad, right?
F* idiot.

Myle's Aunt

Did you just come from watching Pirates of the Silicon Valley or something Myles?

That’s the weakest argument I’ve ever heard in my life. To start up the flame war, since your bating… All that proves is how much of a crook Gates really is by selling Basic before he oh, wait a second… He BOUGHT basic from someone else, THEN put his name on it… I see. Inovation at work, right Myles? You sounded more like Ballmer, the big, stupid idiot that just went along with the whole thing.

Idiot.

MS hasn’t been able to inovate anything since they decided to steal the Apple interface during the transition from 3.1 to 95. THAT took a lot of thought.

Mantiz

REB you totaly nailed it.
YES oh yes definetly. drop the code, build it again from scrap or from unix.
It worked wonders for apple, they should learn something from them.

Myles

“You think this is new to Vista? Think as far back as Windows 95, and even beyond.”

Microsoft announced Windows in 1983, before Apple unveiled the Mac.

Bill Gates sold BASIC before he wrote it.

Microsoft has always used product announcements to freeze the market. They used FUD to kill the competition. Why buy a Mac? Windows is going to be much better.

In an industry rife with Vaporware, Apple was one of the few that dealt in product.

Ryan

Fortunately for Apple large scale (50,000 employees) enterprise isnt their focus. They’d rather cater to the creative pros which is exactly what they do since the create pros are often impressed by apples… well… creativity. :)

REB

Microsoft needs to keep IT and developers in the picture, making “secrecy” impossible for their larger customers. What they need to do is abandon their current code base, make a unix flavor their own, and host legacy software in emulation. This backwards compatibility issue has got them out on a very weak limb by now.

Frank Bruno

I think the real reason that MS is so open about their roadmap is that they HAVE to be: enterprise customers don’t like surprises.

If you’re working in the IT department of a company with, say, 50,000 employees (and I have), you’re going to have to map out your upgrades for the next five years at least: hardware, software, licenses, the works. I worked for a company that was just beginning to upgrade all of its desktops to Win2000 in late 2003, years after XP had been released. Why? because that’s how long it takes to do IT upgrades in a large corporate environment.

Apple’s secrecy simply will not wash in the corporate world. The risk is too great. That’s one reason why Apple is now letting in some enterprise customers in on its roadmap:

http://zdnet.com.au/news/software/soa/Apple_acknowledges_user_frustrations_over_roadmap/0,2000061733,39260347,00.htm

Most IT customers would rather have a Vista launch date that keeps slipping in public than an awesome Apple product that blindsides them out of nowhere.

Apple’s getting better at this, no doubt, especially in the OS arena. But hardware and (even other Apple software) planning is still total guesswork.

Nick

Actually that is Microsoft always handled releases by hyping evverything. Apple on the contrary keeps everything secretive. is it right or wrong? It depends where you stand. Apple always surprises us because we rarely know what they will pull out of their hats. However, Microsoft constantly let us down.

You think this is new to Vista? Think as far back as Windows 95, and even beyond. W95 was six months late. It got worse with W98. Ultimately, W2000 was a year almost and a half late and was supposed to be NT5.

Microsoft does what the frog who tries to look like the bull does. It looks big but once you have it in your hands you wonder what the commotion was all about. Frankly taking away WinFS was the biggest mistake they did. Yet, they had no choice. In typical MS way, they announced a project that wasn’t feasible in that timeline so they axed it.

One thing is sure though and both politicians and big corporations got it right, most people have short term memory and often will accept a lot as they are being played on their emotions, that’s their achiles weakness.

Ryan

ugh i put stuff in triangle brackets…

“i knew they’d include (new cool feature)”

“what happened to (feature x) and (feature y)…”

:

Ryan

Here’s another vote for Vista beta 2 being ‘a laughing stock’. Man it’s a horrendous mess!

I think it’s more fun to be kept in the dark, speculate about what might be included. BMW doesn’t give you sneak peaks at their new designs or features until the car is released, you might HEAR about them but you are never sure until you’re test driving the thing / reading a review. When Apple releases something new half the people say “told ya so! I knew they’d include !”, the other half stays quiet. When Microsoft releases something new EVERYONE says “uhh, what happened to and and how come it’s just as slow and buggy as before? and how come it’s still so ugly? and how come the sys reqs are up another 25% from last month?”…

I prefer the secrecy, the anticipation and the surprise.

Leo Nelson

In all honesty, I’m glad that Microsoft actually talks about the products that they’re working on. It gives the community a chance to really have an open channel of conversation between development and launch. However, I only wish they’d learn how to under promise and over deliver.

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