Saturday, April 30, 2005

Microsoft Monitor: Microsoft Monitor: "I've blogged before about the 'good enough' problem where people don't upgrade Windows versions because they don't see the benefits. Without ever releasing Longhorn, Microsoft has innovated in Tablet PC and Media Center user benefits that should be good enough for many people. All this done without some whizbang, dramatically different OS upgrade. Fix the messaging, fix the problem; OK, just some of it. Now, please, pardon me while I go install Tiger."


Anonymous said...

While I'm not a champion of M'soft by any means, I'll take some issue with Joe Wilcox here:

"I argued that Microsoft would be better off taking the whole package called Windows XP Service Pack 2 and turning it into an interim release ahead of Longhorn."

Microsoft would still have had to put out a SP2 for XP, so there would have been yet another product line for the service organization to keep track of.

This is a nontrivial thing to do - remember that Microsoft has 600 million Windows machines out there, and that a single Windows Update screwup could BSOD much of the planetary computing infrastructure. Microsoft has to be careful about their updates, and they undoubtedly don't want to have two maintenance streams out there when they can get away with just one.

BP/CMB said...

Yeah, I wondered about that too, and came to the conclusion that people (like me) would jump all over them for milking their customers for an extra release (like they did with Windows ME). On the other hand, and ignoring any cash-flow issues they may have, if they could bundle a FEW of the features with what was a problematic "update" it might have made some sense. One thing that Allchin promises will be in Longhorn is a different maintenance process than that which we have been forced to live with.

A few years ago I was exposed to this process of "ghosting" or "imaging" a freshly installed Windows system by making a CD from it (using a Norton utility) an that, then became our official CD for installing new systems. With a large world-wide organization with thousands of PCs you could in no way be certain that every PC that this ghost image was applied to would resemble our prototype system, in fact you could be quite certain that some would not. After I pointed out all that could go wrong with this, and even proved it in the lab, I was told that after all it *was* an officially recommended process from Microsoft. Would I have the network admins do a full installation on every machine instead? Well, yes I would have, had the decision been mine. I would have chosen a network install process. But I was overruled by a team of trade school graduates who liked to carry their own back full of CDs from one PC to the next as they ministered unto them.

Not surprisingly no two PCs in the organization work quite the same, and some of them barely seem to work at all. Since I left I've heard of one important manager that had a minor driver problem with her PC, and after the tech was through with it, her 60G disk appeared to be a 30G disk, and no, the tech had not done a backup or used used a previously unused partition, etc. Not sure what they did, or how long they took to tell her that her stuff really was lost. I had this story repeated by an old friend who called me from a charitable organization at which she works. Her tech claimed to have backed her PC up, I suggested she ask him whether that backup was on tape, CD or a network drive. His reaction to that question apparently convinced her I didn't need any convincing) that no such backup took place.

At one point Microsoft was hot on the notions of third party support companies springing up and playing middleman in both supporting (and promoting) MS products. The TCO debate, coupled with rampant incompetence among these providers has given MS second thoughts about this strategy I suspect. Hopefully that will be reflected in easier to install products in the future that don't involve imaging software. Such a process, if it is already ready would be worth a new release all by itself I would say and it would simplify all future releases as well.

Apt-get Windows anyone?

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