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Doug's Mailbag: Vista SP2 Not Exactly a Revolution, More

Vista SP2 was released last week, but readers are reporting that little has changed:

I installed Vista SP2. I haven't noticed anything -- nothing positive, nothing negative. I consider it a success.

I have installed SP2 on some Vista and 2008 machines and it went fine. No problems, just a basic update. I have not really noticed any real changes after applying the update (I'm not using the wireless features). The jump from Vista to Vista SP1 was huge and the jump from Vista SP1 to Vista SP2 is very small.

I was a beta tester and SP2 has been rock-solid for months. As soon as the RTM code was made available, I installed it on all of my family's personal systems (leaving my test systems free for Windows 7 RC). In truth, Vista has been stable since before SP1 shipped, so one shouldn't expect too much. SP2 is an improvement but it is not as big an upgrade as XP SP2 was, nor does it accomplish the performance gains found in Windows 7 RC.

Vista SP2 is not going to change the minds of Vista detractors -- nor will it keep the hardcore among us from leaping to Windows 7 when given the chance. That said, with SP2 released, no one should feel compelled to abandon Vista prematurely. On sufficient hardware, Vista is a very good OS. On lame hardware, don't expect much improvement.

I've just installed SP2 but it's too early to comment on it. A thought occurred to me this morning about Windows 7, though. My impression is that Windows 7 is basically Vista with a few extras bolted on. Think about Microsoft's version numbers: Windows NT was Windows 4, Windows 2000 was Windows 5, Windows XP was Windows can see where this is going. Windows Vista must be Windows 7. What do you think?

One reader last week commented that a Mac is like a Mercedes in that its price is linked to its "identity." A few of you don't think that comparison holds:

Roberto wrote that "making a Mac cheaper is like making a Mercedes as affordable as a Camry." But Mercedes does have the A-Class that is as affordable as a Camry. The catch is that you have to buy it in Europe.

A better comparison for your opinion of Macs would be something like the Coach purses that my wife buys or just about any other designer fashion accessory that's desired as a status symbol just because of the price -- there's no functional difference between it and a cheap one. The same argument could be made for operating systems, since that's really what we're talking about, but I would hope an IT professional would be willing to admit that functional and useful differences exist between OS X and Windows.

We hear comments Roberto's a lot. My question is this: If Apple can make the Mac cheaper but is afraid of losing its identity, aren't you really saying that there is nothing to a Mac other than marketing? Aren't you really saying there is just no substance to it? If that's true, what's to stop Apple's customers from figuring that out? If you just want to pay more for a computer, why not buy a more expensive PC with more power and more substance to it? If a Mac is really better than a PC, then lowering the price will not change that, and it will only make it sell faster.

In the '60s, cigarette manufacturers were telling people through TV ads that smoking is healthy for you and makes you look cooler. Consequently, there are a lot of walking ashtrays running around with lung disease. The reality is you can't hide the truth forever.

Andrew writes in with one more thought about locked-down OSes (about which there's no shortage of opinions, as Friday's mailbag will show):

OS lockdown? Oh, yeah, for some situations. For the power users, developers, etc., locking down an OS usually does not make sense. But for many tasks, it does make sense. Any single-use machine, one that is closer to an appliance, is a perfect fit -- cash registers, handheld scanners, shipping docks, production lines, bank tellers, clerks, etc.

But let's turn this on its head. The open source revenue model tends to make money from support (Red Hat, for example). Microsoft's revenues model leans more toward sales of new products and patches are free -- at opposite ends compared to open source. And we know from economics that the long-term cost will move to the marginal cost, and with open source, that is near zero. What a strategic problem. We'll find out some day, but this could be part of their contingency plan in case they decide to alter their revenue model. One where perhaps they give away the base product and charge for updates and enhanced features, where the updates are part of a support contract. Only time will tell.

And finally, Miles leaves us with a Freudian slip:

Monday's headline: "Gates and Ballmer Bullish."

What I read: "Gates, Ballmer Bullsh*t."

I thought: It's Monday everywhere.

Check in on Friday for more reader letters! Meanwhile, share your own thoughts by writing a comment below or e-mailing Doug at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/03/2009 at 1:16 PM


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