Ever since Microsoft released Vista to the masses, most people knew just how bad the operating system was. Instead of offering the kind of functionality already found on Linux or Mac OS X and the stability that we had come to welcome in XP, Vista was nothing more than a beta release on day one, and very few improvements have been made to change that.
To make matters worse, most companies and individuals are more than happy to keep XP running, and even Apple has been able to capitalize somewhat on the issues people have had with Microsoft's latest operating system.
Obviously realizing that there is some trouble afoot, Microsoft on Thursday announced price cuts on its most expensive versions of Vista and said those discounts will range from 20 percent to 48 percent. Ironically, those discounts are designed to coincide with the release of Vista Service Pack 1, which according to Microsoft, will usher in a slew of security fixes and improvements that should make the Vista experience much better.
And while I applaud Microsoft for finally dropping the price on its ill-fated software, the price drop looks more like a PR move than something that will have an impact on consumers and, most importantly, shows just how much trouble this company is in with Windows.
First off, let's not kid ourselves. This price drop will have no impact on Microsoft's bottom line and is nothing more than a ploy to show that it's trying to do all it can to attract customers. After all, how many people actually buy retail versions of Windows?
According to Goldman Sachs, approximately 5 percent of all Windows sales are executed through retail chains and the vast majority--80 percent--come from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Knowing this, what sort of impact does anyone actually think this will have?
If only 5 percent of Microsoft's customers are affected by this price drop, why is this even news? Wouldn't it make more sense from a business standpoint to drop the price to OEMs (which it hasn't done), if all it really wants to do is sell more copies of Vista? If it did that, OEMs would finally feel a little bit better about the software and could pass some of that savings on to the consumer, who would then more readily choose the more expensive Vista over XP.
But alas, this price cut has nothing to do with revenue or any other excuse Microsoft can come up with. The Vista price cut is designed specifically to show people that this company is doing all it can to create a worthwhile product and is trying to make its customers happy.
Of course, what it fails to realize is what the customers really want is a robust operating system that offers the stability and functionality this one is missing. And although Microsoft would be quick to mention that it's doing just that with SP1 and the price cut is making its product more attractive, I would argue that the company is ignoring consumers and doing all it can to force a crappy product on you so it can turn a profit on its huge investment in Vista.
But in the end, I just don't know if that will ever happen. As long as companies like Dell and Acer continue to have reservations about Vista and Microsoft tries to play the PR game instead of the "make this crap better" game, Windows is in trouble.
Vista is a damaged product that lacks many of the important elements a good operating system would boast. And although it may be a bit cheaper, it's still not the OS XP was. Say what you will about Windows, but as it stands, XP is one of the best operating systems on the market today and Microsoft shouldn't lose sight of that.
The future of Vista is bleak and regardless of what Microsoft tries to do to erect a facade that entices consumers to buy a dilapidated operating system, eventually it will come back to haunt this company and that will be bad for everyone.
Go back to work, Microsoft. We're waiting for something better.