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Reader Feedback: Windows 7 and Microsoft BI

We're cleaning out the reader e-mail cupboard this week, so let's get started.

On Microsoft's apparent return to its roots in 2009, we got a comment from longtime friend of RCP Ken Thoreson, who now has his very own, very good blog on RCPmag.com. Anyway, here's what Ken had to say:

"Absolutely the right spot to be. What made Microsoft was excellent execution...something that has been lacking in many aspects of their day-to-day operations."

Ken, we'll count you as more familiar with the daily grind at Microsoft than we are, but we couldn't agree more with your point. It's time for Redmond to stop scatter shooting and start aiming at the targets that made it so rich: Windows and the enterprise. Vista should serve as a warning -- a lack of focus can come back to bite even the most powerful company. Some ex-Wall Street firms and a couple of automakers might have something to say about that. In retrospect, of course.

On Windows 7 possibly arriving in September (and possibly cleaning up Vista's mess), a few users sound pretty excited. Tyler reports:

"I just wanted to comment that for business, I know I'm not going to make the jump to Windows 7 on all the company computers. In fact, we are still using Windows XP. However, for personal uses, I have used the beta of Windows 7 and find it to be a much better environment than Windows Vista. Just like Vista, I still have problems with some hardware, like the built-in EVDO modem in my laptop; however, I'm sure that Verizon will fix this once 7 is released. I think that for myself I would purchase Windows 7 Ultimate once it hits the shelf. As for the company I work for, I think any upgrades in OS are a few years out."

We like the positive review of 7, Tyler, but your company is going to be on XP for an awfully long time if upgrades are a few years out. Microsoft and a partner or two might like that process to speed up a little bit. But on the other hand, XP will probably work just as well a few years from now as it does today. So we see where you're coming from.

Norm seems pretty psyched, as well:

"I just installed Windows [7, we're guessing --LP] on a test machine. Old HP tc1100 tablet. Then removed Windows, old files. Looks like I now have a new tablet! When Vista came out, I could not install it on this machine. What an improvement 7 is. I'm an ISV and will test my ClickOnce code written with Visual Studio on this machine. Looks like I will be giving Microsoft a big 'THANK YOU.'"

Great news, Norm. And we're sure that Microsoft will respond with a friendly, "You're welcome! And thanks for hyping Windows 7."

Arthur, however, is taking a more cautious approach to the magnificent 7:

"I am currently in the market for two new computers but will not buy any that comes loaded with Vista. Windows 7...I'll wait and see!"

Fair enough, Arthur. Maybe you won't have to wait too much longer.

One more topic, this time business intelligence and Microsoft's contribution to it, with which Barry is, uh, less than impressed:

"The real problem with Microsoft BI is the immaturity of its products. We made the transition at [organization redacted, just in case --LP] last year from Cognos to MS. Our productivity plummeted due to the tools not having key capabilities found in mature BI tools. Visualizations are much more difficult because of the 'you can always write C# to fill in the gaps' mentality of MS tools. Excel doesn't cut it for the kinds of advanced visualizations we need and SQL Server Reporting Services is like using stone knives and flint axes to build a Saturn V rocket. What Microsoft still doesn't get is that BI is not just financial, not just a bunch of tools, and not for IT shops to build. Self-service data analysis is just not possible with the MS tools -- even the new ones in SQL Server 2008. They need about a decade of maturity to catch up to the likes of Cognos or the other mature BI suites."

Yeesh. Not sounding so good there, Microsoft BI. It's true that companies like Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion had a big head start on Microsoft in BI (and basically invented the category), and if Barry's experience is any indication, Microsoft is still miles behind its now-acquired competitors. Should Redmond be rethinking not snatching up BO or Cognos? Maybe.

We're always open to whatever you have to say about whatever you read here. Or other stuff -- whatever strikes you when you're at your keyboard. Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/12/2009 at 1:22 PM


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