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Ed Bott: How should MS fight Vista criticism.

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  • User profile image
    Ray7

    Another frighteningly insightful article from ZDNet's Ed Bott.

    He hits on many of the marketing issues that have been talked about here, as well as the company's poor decision to put Intel's profit statement before the needs of its customers.

    Right now, much of the world sees Microsoft as rudderless and unable to deliver a competent product. Apple has reduced Vista to a pitiful caricature in ads that are brilliant and memorable, even if they are grossly exaggerated and occasionally just plain wrong. Microsoft has responded with white papers, keynote addresses, and spin-laden press releases. They brought a knife to a gunfight.


    Yup.


  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    I think his proposed solutions would be bad: he wants Microsoft to act as if it's admitting that Vista was this huge, gigantic failure by kissing everyone's feet. There were a couple of mistakes Microsoft made with Vista, but its not exactly a failure like what Vista critics would have you believe, and if they made it look like they believe it was a failure, it would give Apple a new ad where they can say "even Microsoft admits Vista sucks".

    Where Microsoft did make mistakes, they should make up for it. Offering support is a good first step, but in Ed Bott's version of it, its a huge signal to people saying "Vista is so bad, you'll need to call for support, while if you buy a Mac you won't need to".

    First off, Microsoft doesn't need to step away from the fact, that if people have compatibility issues, its either they have old computers, or their computer manufacturers were idiots; its not out of flaws with Vista. Microsoft doesn't need to step away from the fact, that if people's old anti-virus programs aren't working, its because the way they worked, they posed security problems. Microsoft doesn't need to admit failures on their part that don't exist. The reason these things don't work is because Vista needs better technology. The marketing needs to be "Make your computer ready/optimized for Vista"---not "Fix problems with Vista."

    Microsoft also needs to own up to their mistake in marketing too many versions of Vista, and then not regularly producing Ultimate Extras. Upgrade everyone from Premium to Ultimate, and give Ultimate users something else in addition, if they don't plan Ultimate Extras in the future.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    Ray7 said:
    Test


    Mmm...

    Well, what you're describing still sounds like a pretty far-reaching apology to me. I would agree that a lot of the issues are down to folk not having the right hardware, but on the other hand, a lot of folk didn't have the right hardware because Intel and MS cooked up a little scheme to make them think that they had ...


  • User profile image
    Minh

    Ray7 said:
    Ray7 said:
    *snip*


    Mmm...

    Well, what you're describing still sounds like a pretty far-reaching apology to me. I would agree that a lot of the issues are down to folk not having the right hardware, but on the other hand, a lot of folk didn't have the right hardware because Intel and MS cooked up a little scheme to make them think that they had ...


    MS should t straight-up say they goofed w/ Vista, ie, over promised, under delivered, troublesome roll-out. Admid your mistake. We're a forgiving country.

    If they can't do that, then at least dump the "Vista" name. 500 million dollars ago, that brand had intrigue. Now it's just poisoned. Don't throw out more good money after bad.

    They should find a new name, otherwise, Windows 7 would be called "Microsoft Windows Vista XYZ", where the "XYZ" would stand for "this isn't Vista, believe us"....

    And that would fall right into the MS naming trap. Why not go with "Windows XYZ". That should be good enough.

  • User profile image
    stevo_

    Two wrongs don't make a right!.. apple will burn in hell for their lies! in hell!*

    * By this I mean apple will burn in their offices from mobs of people who realized ".. wait a second, what apple said was all lies!... get them!"

    The thing is.. its going to be very hard for microsoft to fight back against the 'cool' attack.. luckily they probably won't need to considering like all things cool.. they become drastically uncool rapidly.. *cough* apple.

  • User profile image
    mstefan

    brian.shapiro said:
    I think his proposed solutions would be bad: he wants Microsoft to act as if it's admitting that Vista was this huge, gigantic failure by kissing everyone's feet. There were a couple of mistakes Microsoft made with Vista, but its not exactly a failure like what Vista critics would have you believe, and if they made it look like they believe it was a failure, it would give Apple a new ad where they can say "even Microsoft admits Vista sucks".

    Where Microsoft did make mistakes, they should make up for it. Offering support is a good first step, but in Ed Bott's version of it, its a huge signal to people saying "Vista is so bad, you'll need to call for support, while if you buy a Mac you won't need to".

    First off, Microsoft doesn't need to step away from the fact, that if people have compatibility issues, its either they have old computers, or their computer manufacturers were idiots; its not out of flaws with Vista. Microsoft doesn't need to step away from the fact, that if people's old anti-virus programs aren't working, its because the way they worked, they posed security problems. Microsoft doesn't need to admit failures on their part that don't exist. The reason these things don't work is because Vista needs better technology. The marketing needs to be "Make your computer ready/optimized for Vista"---not "Fix problems with Vista."

    Microsoft also needs to own up to their mistake in marketing too many versions of Vista, and then not regularly producing Ultimate Extras. Upgrade everyone from Premium to Ultimate, and give Ultimate users something else in addition, if they don't plan Ultimate Extras in the future.
    Mistakes were made all around. The amount of time it took Microsoft to actually roll out the operating system had a lot of hardware and software vendors thinking that it would never see the light of day. When it became apparent that Vista was actually coming down the road, there was this scramble and the result was absolutely craptastic drivers by Creative, nVidia, etc. Honestly, I don't even know how they got WHQL certified.

    The second issue was that Microsoft was far too accomodating to their business partners. And on the consumer end, they were allowing system builders to slap the "Vista Capable" stickers on systems that -- quite frankly -- I wouldn't install XP SP2 on. So people get these low-end droneware boxes thinking that they're going to be able to do all the cool stuff they've seen in videos (Aero interface, Dreamscene, Flip3D, etc.) and find out that it can barely chunk along with the basic interface.

    And the third issue was that Microsoft didn't enforce the principal of LUA software design on the NT-based platforms from the start. I understand the desire for backwards compatibility, but the path of least resistance that they had choosen came back to bite them. And so rather than developers being used to the idea that you don't have access to every nook and cranny of the computer system (just as UNIX programmers were), Microsoft was forced to pull out the big hammer of UAC and start thumping developers over the head. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues.

    Where Microsoft gets points is for finally getting religion. And I don't dispute that idea that it was necessary to use something as intrusive as UAC to get complacent developers to actually rewrite some of their software. But it didn't have to be this painful for the end-user. And they really do need to revisit UAC in Windows 7 to lower that "annoying factor". Because users really don't need to see a never-ending array of warning dialogs when they're just copying files around C:\Program Files. Warning dialogs that, by the way, don't actually tell you anything useful other than "This might or might not be bad, are you sure you want to do this?"

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    mstefan said:
    brian.shapiro said:
    *snip*
    Mistakes were made all around. The amount of time it took Microsoft to actually roll out the operating system had a lot of hardware and software vendors thinking that it would never see the light of day. When it became apparent that Vista was actually coming down the road, there was this scramble and the result was absolutely craptastic drivers by Creative, nVidia, etc. Honestly, I don't even know how they got WHQL certified.

    The second issue was that Microsoft was far too accomodating to their business partners. And on the consumer end, they were allowing system builders to slap the "Vista Capable" stickers on systems that -- quite frankly -- I wouldn't install XP SP2 on. So people get these low-end droneware boxes thinking that they're going to be able to do all the cool stuff they've seen in videos (Aero interface, Dreamscene, Flip3D, etc.) and find out that it can barely chunk along with the basic interface.

    And the third issue was that Microsoft didn't enforce the principal of LUA software design on the NT-based platforms from the start. I understand the desire for backwards compatibility, but the path of least resistance that they had choosen came back to bite them. And so rather than developers being used to the idea that you don't have access to every nook and cranny of the computer system (just as UNIX programmers were), Microsoft was forced to pull out the big hammer of UAC and start thumping developers over the head. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues.

    Where Microsoft gets points is for finally getting religion. And I don't dispute that idea that it was necessary to use something as intrusive as UAC to get complacent developers to actually rewrite some of their software. But it didn't have to be this painful for the end-user. And they really do need to revisit UAC in Windows 7 to lower that "annoying factor". Because users really don't need to see a never-ending array of warning dialogs when they're just copying files around C:\Program Files. Warning dialogs that, by the way, don't actually tell you anything useful other than "This might or might not be bad, are you sure you want to do this?"
    Everything you said was fair; but Microsoft shouldn't pretend there are problems in Vista that don't exist. Microsoft should have done this better and been less accommodating to business partners, but it shouldn't give the message to consumers that there's something broken about Vista with regards to supporting hardware, when there's not. That's definitely the wrong message to send.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    brian.shapiro said:
    mstefan said:
    *snip*
    Everything you said was fair; but Microsoft shouldn't pretend there are problems in Vista that don't exist. Microsoft should have done this better and been less accommodating to business partners, but it shouldn't give the message to consumers that there's something broken about Vista with regards to supporting hardware, when there's not. That's definitely the wrong message to send.
    ...I really liked the idea of Ultimate Extras, (not necessarily getting them by purchasing a separate Ultimate Edition---I thought allowing Windows users to pay for an extra package, with  a one-time fee for a subscription  would be better)---but if they're not going to keep up on that, I think the right thing to give people who've already purchased Ultimate is a free  subscription to Windows Live services, like OneCare

  • User profile image
    Dovella
  • User profile image
    Ray7

    Dovella said:
    Okay, your first quote was actually from Microsoft, and I would be surprised if they said their OS wasn't superior to Linux and MacOSX (actually, looking at the way MS has been marketing itself recently, I don't think I would be that surprised.)

    And that graph just seems to show that Microsoft's system for dishing out OS updates has better availability than Ubuntu and MacOSX.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    brian.shapiro said:
    mstefan said:
    *snip*
    Everything you said was fair; but Microsoft shouldn't pretend there are problems in Vista that don't exist. Microsoft should have done this better and been less accommodating to business partners, but it shouldn't give the message to consumers that there's something broken about Vista with regards to supporting hardware, when there's not. That's definitely the wrong message to send.
    I don't think there is anything in Bott's piece that indicates they would be apologising for a problem that doesn't exist.

  • User profile image
    Bass
  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    Ray7 said:
    brian.shapiro said:
    *snip*
    I don't think there is anything in Bott's piece that indicates they would be apologising for a problem that doesn't exist.

    Way too many people have the impression that they're only having problems in Vista, because Vista is a bad OS. It doesn't matter how much Microsoft is at fault for the driver and compatibility situation, reinforcing the impression that Vista is broken doesn't help Microsoft.

    It might look like as if it would give them more sympathy for doing something that looks like its the right thing to do, but it would give people more reason--not less reason--to think about getting a Mac. If Microsoft were to find some way to address this, it would have to be to try to give people Vista support , while convincing people that Vista isn't actually broken, at the same time.

    A Vista support line by itself doesn't offer much confidence in the product, and it wouldn't even help assure users who have problems, given that users hate having to deal with phone support. Do you think people will actually like calling in for tech support and talking to people who have scripts? People buy Macs because they want to avoid calling tech support.

    Ed Bott's not wrong, about needing to address the problem, and he also says that a positive campaign about Vista at the same time is a good idea. But addressing people's real problems with Vista has to be done a lot more creatively than with a Vista issues support line.


  • User profile image
    Ray7

    brian.shapiro said:

    Way too many people have the impression that they're only having problems in Vista, because Vista is a bad OS. It doesn't matter how much Microsoft is at fault for the driver and compatibility situation, reinforcing the impression that Vista is broken doesn't help Microsoft.


    The problem here is that you are trying to hide something that everyone already seems to know. Not that Vista is broken (it is not), but that for what you get, it isn't worth the time, trouble and expense to upgrade your PC.

    A support line would do nothing to damage the Vista's reputation which is pretty much shot to hell anyway.  And of course a support line is only part of the story. The main problem is that MS gives the impression that they're ashamed of Vista, and that has nothing to do with Apple's commercials . They're just doing what any company would do when seeing a self-inflicted open wound; pushing the knife in a bit deeper.

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    Bass said:
    Dovella said:
    *snip*
    Not in a zillion years. Mac has waaay more awesome brand than either Ubuntu or Windows. Windows trails by a margin (in terms of brand image) but is a stronger altogether brand.

    And for all you can say about Ubuntu's greatness, they suffer exactly the same inability to get their message out that Windows does. Ask your average guy on the street, he'll say that he doesn't trust Microsoft ("they're evil") and Ubuntu/Linux is "for nerds, not people like me" whereas Apple "is cool".

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    Personally I thought that the material presented has been covered before in bits from various other articles. My response is to the title of this thread.

    Vista as a ‘topic’ is now like an unpopular Prime Minister/President or Political Party. Generally, when they make a mistake, they never ever admit to it. Unless a scoop is made by a newspaper witnessing the politician with a rent-boy, or official documents are leaked, then their instinct is to not admit anything! Admitting getting things even slightly wrong precipitates further damaging admissions, so the rule is don't admit anything. Julie Larson-Green will write her memoirs in 30 years time and will state that "Microsoft cocked things up quite a bit with Vista" - or similar sentiments. Microsoft functions in a not too dissimilar way to a government. Scathing or negative press is likely to never stem from the Mothership in Redmond.

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