I've got a bit of egg on my face today.
August 29th I wrote to Microsoft about Windows Vista quality. I made some strong statements about my views on Windows Vista quality, and, it turns out that I was wrong. The problems I had with Vista were caused by a faulty 1 Gig stick of RAM. When I pulled that stick of memory out of the PC a week ago, replacing it temporarily with a 512M stick, everything stabilized, and I've had no problems since.
Similarly, last week while at the Red Herring conference I had a catastrophic meltdown on my tablet. At one point there were seven blue-screens in a 2 hour period. I had to shut it down and put it away. The culprit? Memory again.
In the case of the first computer, it was difficult to figure out. The PC finally reached a stage where it would load Windows part way, and then simply blue screen and reboot. I panicked, and put the Windows setup disk in the drive to see if I could load a fresh copy of Windows Vista and at least get access to my data. It blue screened as well… which meant that the problem wasn't Vista, but the hardware itself. So, I systematically started removing and replacing components, beginning with the graphics card, until I was able to boot the PC again.
My tablet was a little easier to figure out. It produces a log file to send to Microsoft, and on two occasions that file was corrupted. Windows guessed that the reason was memory.
In retrospect, the only real complaint I might have had with Microsoft was that the diagnostic messages were unhelpful, or even misleading as Windows suggested on several occasions that the problem was a faulty driver. The quality of the Microsoft software was not the issue. Rather, it was the quality of the hardware that was the problem.
There you have it.
I did buy a new PC Saturday as well. I did not, however, buy a Mac. I bought the HP Pavilion DV6000, a dual core Turion 64 machine with 2G of memory, NVidia graphics, a 15.3 inch widescreen display and a 200G hard drive. At $999 it was a steal compared to the equivalent Macbook Pro at $2199.99. Add in the costs of obtaining Mac Office, and the headaches of integrating the Mac with my all Windows network, and it was a no-brainer.
And by the way… Windows Vista, and Office 2007… very very smooth on the dual core machine.