After a long battle last night with my Windows Vista PC I got up this morning and saw that Computerworld is reporting that one in six new laptops sold in the US is a Mac. It touched a nerve, so much so that I sat down and penned this piece of email to senior managers at Microsoft.
UPDATE: Within minutes of mailing this, I got a speedy reply from Jeff. Fabulous! Within 45 minutes I had mail back from Steven Sinofsky as well, explaining the steps they were taking to address these issues. Application compatibility and the video subsystem are two areas they're focused on at the moment, he told me.
From: Alec Saunders
Sent: August-29-07 9:54 AM
To: Steve Ballmer; Jeff Raikes; Steve Sinofsky
Subject: regarding Windows Vista
Steve, Jeff and Steve…
I am writing you both because I know you from my days at Microsoft from 1992 to 2001. And to put what I’m about to say in context, I have been a Windows PC user since Windows version 1.02, and my home is stuffed full of PC’s, networks and servers… all running Windows – XP, Vista, Home Server. I worked on the launches of MS-DOS 6, MS-DOS 6.2, Windows 3.1, WFW, NT 3.1, NT 3.51, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows CE, Windows 98 SE, and Windows ME before leaving the company. I’m a self-professed geek and will willing put up with a lot of pain in order to have the latest technology as well.
Now that you have the context for who I am, I want to tell you that I am seriously losing faith. My experience with Windows Vista has been a rank disaster. At this point, I believe it to be worse than Windows 98, which many consider to be the worst quality Windows product that Microsoft ever released. Specifically:
1. Driver quality is low. The ATI graphics card I have installed in my PC regularly causes a spontaneous reboot. My HP scanner doesn’t have a supported driver anymore.
2. Partner software quality is even worse. For example, over the weekend I installed Sony’s software for the HDR-SR1 (their new high definition camcorder) and lived through a series of spontaneous reboots. On one PC I was able to do a system restore. On another, uninstall worked. However, at this point I am simply unable to retrieve or view video files from that Camera, as they are all recorded in the new AVCHD format.
3. The OS quality is also low. Subsystems sometimes stop working for no reason. The PC I have printers attached to simply decides not to print, periodically. Then the print spooler on all of the other Vista PC’s attached to it simply stops and has to be manually restarted.
4. Microsoft software hasn’t been fully tested on Vista either. I use Foldershare, quite a bit, which works intermittently. My Windows Live OneCare software sometimes works and sometimes not… on some PC’s and not others.
I could go on and on, but suffice it to say it’s no surprise to me that one of the top stories on Techmeme this morning is that one in six new laptops are Macbooks, and not Windows. I myself have seriously looked at abandoning my investment in Windows. My Macintosh owner friends encourage me to do so, and don’t seem to have the same kind of trials with PC’s that I do. They appear to be able to just open them, use them, and put them away. Parents I know are opting to buy their children Mac’s, apparently because it relieves them of the need to be IS manager for the home.
The driver, Microsoft software and OS quality issues are Microsoft’s alone. However, the partner quality issue is an evangelism and certification issue. It seems, from where I sit, that the evangelism effort that the Windows 95 launch team undertook was not matched by the Windows Vista launch team.
This issue impacts me daily. I spend at least an hour a day fixing PC problems, whether on my tablet PC in my office, or at home. I can’t continue this way, and if I can’t I would imagine a lot of other customers can’t either.