So Vista versus XP (maybe versus Mac?) has replaced Twitter as the collective angst moment du jour. At the end of the month, big computer makers won't any longer install Windows XP on their machines.
Amen to that.
Has the hand-wringing over Vista's shortcomings been overwrought? You bet. Vista is hardly the disaster portrayed by its most severe critics. As Windows XP takes a final bow, let's not forget the initial reaction when it debuted in late October 2001. The country was already in a fretful mood because of the September 11 attacks less than two months earlier. Despite a big marketing push, the product had its automatic legions of detractors. Frankly, Microsoft never receives uniformly glowing reviews for its various operating systems upgrades. That's been the case with every incarnation of Windows I can recall.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the project formerly known as Longhorn, promised more than it delivered. Without revisiting all the gory details, the product that finally showed up was a disappointment, considering the advance hype. Even today, based on anecdotal evidence, networking on laptops is finicky and it's easier to upset Vista than XP. Meanwhile, lukewarm developer response continues to be a problem. If you want to entertain yourself reading more about what else is screwed up about the product, check out CNET's Windows Vista Forum.
But if past is prologue, many of these issues will fade away. Microsoft rarely produces "wow" products straight out the gate. But it listens to customers and finally fixes most of the really annoying problems. The more immediate problem facing Microsoft is the dearth of Vista-specific software. A recent study claims that 92 percent of developers are sitting this one out.
My guess is that this is just a moment in time. Microsoft may be surprised by the study's lopsided findings but over three decades, but it's learned how to cultivate developer support. This too, will pass.