Vista's Low-Key Launch

Windows 3.0 and Windows 95 were monster launches -- you would have thought cancer had been cured. But despite calling it the "biggest launch in company history," last Thursday's Vista press conference in New York was as subdued as Don Rumsfeld getting his walking papers.

As Redmond magazine editor Ed Scannell explained, he expects the real launch to happen in January, when the consumer version of Vista appears.

But how many times can you launch a product?

Despite the ho-hum Vista debut, 2007 will be a huge year for new tools, like Exchange 2007 and about 29 other products. Microsoft will be keeping this writer very busy.

Vista Third Parties Are the Real Story
A new operating system isn't much without new apps, and the news on Vista is good and bad. The good news is that ISVs are arriving in droves to announce Vista plans.

The bad news: These apps in general ain't showing up anytime soon. First up are utilities like communication software from Attachmate (not sure how terminal emulation software will exploit the Vista interface!) set to ship this spring, and security, backup and disk imaging software from Symantec due this month. But the killer software meant to exploit the new UI will, like Masson, not ship before it's time.

Vista Business Sales Lukewarm
Maybe Microsoft should have shipped the consumer version of Vista first. After all, home users were the first to buy speakers, CD-ROMs and high-res graphics, and I dare you to find a corporate PC that is the match of a 12-year-old's gaming machine. Many of these pre-teens will move to Vista on day one, with some standing in line at Circuit City to be the very first.

Corporate types are different, and for a good many it will be a year to a year-and-a-half until Vista upgrades begin in earnest, at least according to Endpoint Technologies.

Doug's Mailbag: Does Zune Stand a Chance?
The battle lines have been drawn in the iPod-Zune melee, and readers were quick to let me know just where they stood:

I wanted to comment on your thoughts about the Zune. As impressive as some of the features appear to be in Microsoft's new product, there are two significant -- all right, maybe three or four -- defects in this product. Some of these defects can certainly be corrected by using firmware updates. But the question is, will Microsoft follow through?

I have to wonder, what Microsoft genius had the bright idea of creating a separate, stand-alone application for the Zune media transfer software? I would assume that it was the same genius who came up with the Market points with which one has to purchase the songs. I've spent hundreds of dollars in the past few years purchasing songs from many vendors who support the PlaysForSure music. And now, to find out that all my money was wasted because the hardware developer of this player -- the same developer who marketed the PlaysForSure system -- will no longer support it makes me believe that the music industry has gotten hold of either Bill's or Steve's throat, threatening to choke unless there was a separate (and yet another) DRM system built into the Zune. I also love to be labeled as a pirate by Microsoft and Universal since money is being transferred for each Zune purchase to Universal. At this rate, I might as well start freely downloading Universal music since I've agreed to pay upfront for my music use. Best of all, as a blind user, I can't use the damn player. With all its PR moves (see here), Microsoft can't seem to do anything right. Nor can other manufacturers, for that matter. But, I'm not buying any player that does not give me an accessible interface. I know it's not exactly a high priority for the press, but for once, I'd like to see someone from the so-called tech media cover the accessibility in depth.
-Pratik

I bought a Zune the day they came out. My wife has two iPods, including the latest 80GB video unit. There is a lot I love about the Zune: importing playlists from Windows Media Player, shuffling within a playlist, etc. I do wish the networks would make their programs available in WM format as well as Apple, so I could download and watch stuff.

The main reason I bought a Zune, though -- and this may be hard to believe since it involves Microsoft -- is to be contrarian. I got tired of seeing the millions of lemmings with their iPods and wanted something different.
-Mike

If I was interested in buying a portable .MP3 player that also plays videos, I'd go with Zune hands down, because I have never owned one and have no "emotional" ties to the iPod, which seems to have captured the hearts of many. Right now, my main portable music of choice comes in the form of satellite radio. For some reason, I like having my music spoon-fed to me after I choose a genre, instead of spending hours finding what I like in an online store. I guess everybody is different. Anyway, I think iPod owners are just feeling threatened by the big Microsoft beast and they don't want their happy, hippie Apple product to go away. That's fair enough, but I think competition is always a good thing (look at how much higher the quality of MS's software is now that Linux is knocking at its door), and Apple stagnated, too, when it was dominant in the '80s and '90s. Competition is good. The Zune is good. So is the iPod (especially now that Apple has to crank out its own Zune-y version with a big screen, lowering the prices on the rest). I think the reviews have been unfair for the Zune simply because the name "Microsoft" is attached to it and "Apple" is not. If an iPod with the exact same feature set came out, people would be drooling over it.
-Timothy

And here's one more reader's thoughts on last week's California Supreme Court ruling regarding libel suits and the Internet:

I get where you're coming from. I believe people should be free to say what they think. However, ALL people should be prepared to back their comments if they appear to be incorrect and be responsible enough to withdraw their comments if they are proved wrong.

I think it is right that hosting companies should not be liable for the postings of others. However, they should be prepared (as most are) to react appropriately to situations that might occur.
-Mike

I also borrowed some lines from Denis Leary last week for a piece on Amiga, but a couple of things got lost in imitation, as this reader points out:

You have the English and the punch lines wrong. NICE!

"The Amiga's not dead, it's just frozen, and when it thaws out it's going [missing TO] be pretty #@#543&* [missing COLD]! You know what it's like to take a cold shower? Well, multiply that 15 million times and that's how #@#543&* [missing COLD] the Amiga is going to be."

Now stop smoking so much #@#543&* crack and get this #@#543&* stuff right for your readers.
-
Harold

And finally -- everybody's a critic:

Why are you picking on Craig Ferguson? I think he's clearly the funniest late-night talk show host now. Letterman is still funny but I'm getting tired of his lame anti-Bush jokes. That's lazy and boring humor. It's a long, steep dropoff after those two.

Love you.
-Dad

Comments? Criticisms? Send them my way! You can comment below, or drop me a line at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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