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Much ado about Vista

Govindraj Ethiraj | August 14, 2008

It's a second Monday in the month and usually time for my fortnightly showdown with the IT department in my office. The exchange usually flows like this:

Me, "Are you absolutely sure there is no way something can be done about Vista."
They, "No."
Me, "Hasn't someone found a way to get back Windows XP ?"
They, "Not that we know, as we've told you time and again, the drivers installed by Sony on your laptop will not accept XP."
Me, "Brilliant."
They, "Yes."

While there must be some techno-geeks somewhere who've figured out what Vista really does and how it's the pinnacle of Microsoft's development prowess but I have only tales of misery to relate.

Because it's the slowest, clunkiest operating system I have worked on and it continues to get my goat a good one year after I began using it. Note, I only compare against Micrsoft's earlier operating systems, including MS DOS which I have had the privilege of beginning my career with, as a hack.

I now learn that Microsoft is unleashing a marketing campaign (created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and rumoured to be costing $300 million, according to The Economist) to convince folks like me that Vista is indeed a work of art, or some such pitch.

I am aghast. For the last year, I have been waiting with baited breath for some 'patch' or solution to descend either from Redmond or Heaven which will make life a little simpler.

And it has not. On the contrary, if I am going to be given a sales pitch on how great the product I am struggling to use actually was or is, I think its insult over injury. Microsoft is running a project called the Mojave experiment (http://www.mojaveexperiment.com ) where users were given the Vista to use without telling them it's the Vista.

Apparently with astounding success. Since they were all apparently amazed at what Vista really was and can do. The website also points out how Vista is compatible with thousands of printers, web cams, security programmes, tax & finance programmes and what have you�guess what, the two or three odd programmes (by odd I mean not the conventional games and such) that I have tried to use refer me back to Windows XP. So the odds are clearly against me here.

You can judge for yourself whether the Mojave Experiment really answers the questions you want to ask, or at least I want to ask. The only question I want to ask is why anyone, including Microsoft, would want to run such blind-fold tests more than a year after the product is launched unless there is something wrong in the first place.

Fatal flaw and serious run-time error if you ask me, puns obviously intended. Bill Gates has stepped down, having spent his last official day as Microsoft boss a month ago. I think he has some unfinished business to resolve.

Which is that he should find a few quick fixes to the Vista that will make business users a little happier and of course more productive. Which of course would mean that the problem at hand should be acknowledged. And surely, a marketing blitz ain't helping. Such an initiative, in my view, will add considerably to Mr Gates' present focus on creative capitalism.



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