Tag Archives | Windows Vista

Microsoft Seems Eager to Divorce Vista

vistalogoWasting no time, Microsoft appears set to stop sales of Vista as soon as Windows 7 ships.  Official support from the company would be provided through April 2012, however.

This would be a change from the last OS revision, where XP was sold long after Vista’s 2006 debut.

In a somewhat cryptic statement, Microsoft General Manager Richard Francis wrote in an internal e-mail that he was “not sure” if computer makers would be able to ship Vista after Win 7’s launch, PC World reports. That doesn’t make much sense, since Microsoft is in control of the OS reaching its manufacturers.

I might be reading too much into it, but it sounds to me like Microsoft is trying to carefully word a quick exit from Vista, without actually saying its dumping the OS. Everybody knows that in terms of success, Vista was just about as popular as Windows ME (we all know how well that one went over).

Add to this the fact that XP will continue to live on in netbooks until at least 2010, and it seems to further my supposition.


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Denial of Class Action for “Vista Capable” Suit Could Be a Bad Thing–For Microsoft

lawsuit-microsoft-vista-capable-stickersI’ll preface this with the fact that I am not a legal expert by any means, however at face value the denial of class action status in the ongoing lawsuit over Microsoft’s “Vista Capable” program may actually prove to be more problematic for Redmond in the long run.

The gist of the suit, led by consumer Dianne Kelley, accused Microsoft of labeling computers that could only run the most basic version of Vista — which does not include any of the user interface enhancements — as capable of running the OS fully, thus defrauding consumers.

Seattle US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman has ruled that the individual cases could proceed, however she would not grant class action status because universal harm to all consumers who bought “Vista Capable”-marked PCs could not be proven.

Microsoft had attempted to have the case dismissed, however Pechman denied that motion.

So, how is this problematic to Microsoft? If Kelley and company end up prevailing, it could set a precedent for other jilted consumers to sue, entangling Redmond further in the legal morass.

In class action suits, typically the only beneficiaries of significant settlements are the chief plaintiffs. The members of the class-action, who technically could be considered plaintiffs in their own right, usually get a significantly smaller settlement in exchange for the stripping of their rights to sue.

Here, Microsoft is getting no protection at all. Thus, it keeps the door open for additional folks to press their luck in the courts: here’s where a negative judgment may have been the best solution.

So while some may be saying the thunder may have been taken out of this case, I think it may have made Microsoft’s problems regarding this not-too-well-thought-out program potentially worse.


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Microsoft May Have Made $1.5 Billion from Vista Capable Program

lawsuit-microsoft-vista-capable-stickersMicrosoft’s “Vista Capable” program has gotten it into a good deal of hot water, including a class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of allowing the sticker to be placed on PCs that could only run the most basic version of Vista. That version came without all the bells and whistles, including the Aero UI which was the signature feature of the new OS.

Well, a monetary figure can now be attached to this program, showing the windfall profit Microsoft made from just allowing manufacturers to put a simple sticker on the PC. $1.5 billion. Yes, with a “b.”

That is the opinion of expert Keith Leffler, called on by the plaintiffs to estimate how much Microsoft may have made from the program. Leffler is a associate professor of economics with the University of Washington.

In a statement for the court, Dr. Leffler says his calculations indicate that Microsoft made $1.505 billion in licensing fees from the licensing program. A portion of his statement was redacted, but it seems as if Leffler estimated his figure from data from data provided by Redmond itself.

$1.5 billion is not chump change by any means. In fact, its practically pure profit as the company has to do little if anything other than print out the stickers for the manufacturers to use.

If the courts do find that Microsoft did indeed mislead consumers, you better believe they’ll be looking for the company to forfeit some of that money.

(Hat tip Seattle P-I)


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An Open Letter to Windows Vista

Dear Windows Vista,

First of all, I’m sorry it took me so long to sit down and write this letter. You’ve been an unusually busy operating system lately, starting with the official (if less than utterly final) demise of your predecessor Windows XP at the end of June. Then you spent some time helping with a Microsoft marketing experiment by pretending to be a new version Windows code-named “Mojave.” This week, however, seems to be a relatively quiet one for you–and so I wanted to take the opportunity to bend your ear.

We haven’t talked, but I’ve been watching you from afar and feeling your pain as you’ve dealt with more than your fair share of challenges. Eighteen months after your debut, you simply don’t have an aura of success about you. Worse, your aging predecessor, Windows XP, has unexpectedly gained armies of devotees who refuse to give it up. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs–your original marketing tagline may have been “The Wow Starts Now,” but many people remain steadfastly unwowed.

The idea behind Microsoft’s Mojave Experiment was to suggest that those who spurn you do so out of ignorance. It’s true that some Vista doubters base their distaste on what they’ve heard about you rather than hands-on experience. But I don’t know of anyone outside of Redmond who’d maintain that long-term exposure to you turns the average computer user into a raving fan. Sure, you’re better than you were when you first showed up, thanks to Service Pack 1 and improved compatibility with applications and peripherals. But I’ve talked to lots of people who have used you for many months, and while some of them are pleased with you there are plenty whose feelings range from ennui to anger.

Even Microsoft admits that you have a reputation as being a disappointment. The Mojave campaign sure implies that, as does the Vista site’s references to “confusion and lingering misunderstandings” about you. How often does any manufacturer of anything acknowledge unhappy customers at all?

Continue Reading →


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Microsoft’s Mojave Experiment: Fooled Ya, PC Users!

People who don’t like Windows Vista? They’re just ignorant! That would seem to be the message of The Mojave Experiment, a new Microsoft marketing site for Windows Vista. Earlier this month, the company gave 120 users of various versions of Windows, OS X, and Linux demos of “Project Mojave,” an upcoming new version of Windows. The videos at the Mojave site show them being dazzled by its features and performance.

But then Microsoft told them that Mojave was a ruse: What they were being dazzled by was Vista. Apparently Their previous distaste for the operating system was borne of misinformation; once they were educated, they became converts.

Which reminded me of another ad campaign I hadn’t seen in awhile:

Mojave is a very clever conceit, and for some Vista skeptics, it’s probably effective. But…

The folks in Microsoft’s clips must be, by definition, casual computer users–more advanced types. even if they weren’t Vista users, would have been able to tell that “Mojave” was Vista. (Microsoft doesn’t say how it screened its Mojave subjects or whether its trickery was effective in every case–I wonder if any of the test subjects politely asked, “Why are you showing me Windows Vista and saying it’s something else?”) You can see in some of the clips that these people are not deeply into PCs: When one guy is told that Windows Media Center lets him watch TV for free, he looks dumbstruck.

These people had existing impressions of Vista–most likely derived from reading about it or talking to other people who’d used it. Those impressions were negative. They were swayed by a ten-minute demo by someone working for Microsoft. The bottom line is that A) the experiment was incredibly superficial and any subject who changed his or her mind about Vista based on a brief demo is pretty darn impressionable; and B) it seems to say that ten minutes of marketing by Microsoft provides a better portrait of the OS than talking to friends and family who have spent hands-on time with it in the real world.

The whole idea is of a piece with other Microsoft marketing campaigns that have a subtext that its customers aren’t all that bright. The company’s slogan is the patronizing “Your Potential. Our Passion.” It’s compared users of non-current versions of Office to dinosaurs. It just caught flack for saying that being dubious about Vista is akin to thinking the world is flat. In short, it keeps on drawing some sort of vaguely insulting connection between being an unsuccessful schlub and not buying the current versions of Microsoft products.

Telling the Mojave subjects that Vista was a new version of Windows was as harmless as little white lies get, but it sorta makes me uncomfortable. Who wants the companies they do business with to tell them fibs of any sort? Why couldn’t Microsoft have done something similar that involved giving people a fresh look at Vista without deceiving them? A truly interesting experiment of this sort would involve Microsoft lending Vista machines to real people for a month of hands-on experience. The results would undeniably tell you more about Vista than how people respond to a demo.

The Mojave site has a page of “facts” about Vista, and while some are significant, such as the number of third-party products that work with the OS today, there’s a section that refers to “actual Windows Vista users,” and says that 89% are satisfied–but then brings up the ten-minute demo again. Looks like the facts intermingle information about Vista users and Mojave subjects in a way that’s confusing at best and misleading at worst.

The thing is, Vista’s problem is much deeper than one of perception among people who don’t know much about it. A lot of home and business users have made entirely rational decisions to avoid it. I’ve talked to countless people who have bought Vista and were either very unhappy with the experience or found it to be something less than the life-changing experience that Microsoft has promised in advertising. It’s possible to know what you’re talking about and not like Vista.

I don’t wanna come off as sounding like I’m saying that the people in the Mojave videos are dummies. Some of the smartest people I know know very little about computer operating systems; some people who are operating-system experts need to get a life. But the Mojave site really doesn’t address the millions of smart, well-informed people who Microsoft is having a tough time turning into Vista fans.

Over at CNET’s News.com, Ina Fried, who broke the Mojave story, says that Mojave isn’t part of the big, pricey ad campaign that Microsoft is planning to help turn the Vista tide. I’m very curious to see those ads. And I hope for everybody’s sake that unlike much Microsoft advertising, they feel like they’re addressing intelligent adults…


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