Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Vista: A Behavioral Overview.

A Conservative and a Liberal go out to play a game of golf, and they grab one of the course pro's to go with them. The conservative goes first, picks a club out of the bag, puts the ball on the tee, and then takes a swing. The bawl careens off to the left and smacks a tree, dropping dead. The conservative stands there for a second, then says I screwed that up. The conservative then turns to the Course Pro and asks What did I do wrong?

While the conservative and course pro talk about the stance, angle of the club, and how the hands are held, the liberal takes the same club, grabs another ball, steps up the tee, and takes his shot. The liberal's shot hooks far right and lands in a lake. The liberal stands there for a second, then says Oh well, the wind got in the way. The course pro, now paying attention, states that there is no wind, and points to the wind sock atop the club house which lies limp. The liberal hmms, then says I guess this club is bad then. The course pro blinks, then tells the liberal he is using the same club that the conservative used. The liberal pauses again, then says, Well this is a bad brand of balls, I need to go get a different brand.

Most of us probably know somebody like the liberal pictured here. It never occurs to them that when something goes wrong, it is because of something that they directly did. Our conservative golfer blamed himself for a bad shot, while the liberal golfer blamed everything but himself. Oh no, there couldn't be anything wrong with the way he made the shot, it has to be something else.

Microsoft, or more specifically, Steve Ballmer, seems to have the same kind of problem as our liberal golfer. Vista is not selling at all in retail. Consumers are buying Vista at only a fraction of the sales Xp enjoyed in it's retail launch. Steve Ballmer comes out and states that the slow sales of Vista are due to Pirates, and that to counter this, Vista will be locked down even further and there are more draconian methods of control on the way. Source : http://www.arnnet.com.au/index.php/id;7680622;fp;16;fpid;1

What Ballmer, and Microsoft by extension, seem to be incapable of considering is that Vista's slow sales might be a fault of something they (Microsoft) have done. Consumers just may not be interested in Vista at all for a variety of reasons. Many are probably turned off by the Digital Rights Management inherent in the system. Many are turned off by the high system requirements, and more are turned off by non-functional drivers and the lack of backwards compatibility.

Microsoft, with Vista, faces the same problem Sony faces with the Playstation3. There has to be a discernible need or desire in order for the product to sell. Sony was never able to convince customers that Blu-Ray was worth $600, and on an extremely lackluster game library, the Playstation3 has collectively flopped in retail sales. The same applies to Vista. Most consumers don't know what Vista does for them, and aside from the 3D desktop, would be hard pressed to name one major feature in Vista. I'm supposed to be a tech writer, and that's all I can come up with off the top of my head that is a major departure from Windows Xp.

On the other hand, many Linux's have over the past years have created their own markets by fulfilling the wants and desires of computer users. Linux users have had two real 3D desktops in the java based XGL accelerated Looking Glass, and the AIGLX accelerated Compiz, now forked into Beryl. Between KDE, FluxBox, XFCE, IceWM, and Gnome Linux users have a variety of different desktops that they customize to what they want or need. In addition, even a modern Linux with X.org 7.1 will run fine on a Pentium III @ 500mhz : http://www.mepisguides.com/Mepis-6/video/what_can_you_use.html

It never seems to occur to Microsoft that they can't sell products because people just don't want those products.

Really, take a look at every section but the Office and Xp units within Microsoft. The Home Entertainment Division, responsible for the Xbox, Xbox 360, and Zune have recorded loss after loss after loss. The Xbox 360 may make a profit in 2008, ignoring the several million dollar writer-offs which started at $26 million in 2003. I repeat, started at.

The Mobile Unit division, which is responsible for PocketPC, only has 4%-5% of the smart phone market, Linux having a double digit (15% +) and Symbian having over 75% of the market.

The fact is, everything Microsoft does but Office and Windows fails. Consumers don't want Microsoft in those other markets, and now many of those consumers are catching onto the fact that they do have a choice in what they run on their home Computer. They are not just stuck with Windows or a Mac. There are legitimate User-Friendly choices in Mepis, Ubuntu, and PCLinuxOS.

Microsoft, through Ballmer, seem incapable of considering these factors. There must be another reason besides something that they (Microsoft) have done to explain people not buying Vista. It couldn't possibly be that consumers do not want Vista. Microsoft, through Ballmer, seems to be of the opinion that just because they release a product, people will buy it.

Now, aside from Apple, most of the industry isn't that arrogant. Sony had the guts to come out and declare that 5 million people would buy the Playstation3 with no games. That did not happen. Playstation3 units are in stock at most major US retailers, and at most major retailers where the Playstation3 has launched.

My advice to Microsoft is get over the liberalism. Start asking What did we do Wrong, and then go from there. If Microsoft can admit that the problem is internal, then maybe we'll get a Windows in the future that people want to buy again.

For now, I'm happy with Linux, and that is where I think I am going to stay.
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