Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Volume 3, Number 13: Ticked Off At Microsoft

(Note: I originally posted this entry on April 23, 2008 on my Yahoo! GeoCities blog.)

Microsoft has ticked me off.

About three weeks ago, I read that Bill Gates would like to push out the next version of Windows (currently referred to as Windows 7) "sometime in the next year or so." (I personally interpret that to mean "within the next 12 months.")

That's not bad if your computer has XP on it--you might to do well to wait until Windows 7 comes out. But if you've invested in a computer with Windows Vista, you might imagine that Microsoft is throwing Vista under the bus.

I'm in the latter group. Last May, I insisted on having Vista on my computer. As I mentioned in a blog entry around that time, I figured that it would be pointless to shell out $500 for a new computer with XP on it if I was going to spend another $100 or so to upgrade to Vista down the road. It simply made more sense to pay $500 for a computer with Vista already on it.

(Yes, I know that once upon a time, some new computers were sold with "free Vista upgrade" coupons, but unfortunately for me, that only happened during a time when getting a new computer was not in my budget--I was "in between jobs" in the summer of 2006.)

While the decision made sense, Vista hasn't looked like a terribly sensible operating system. I've put up with plenty of the crap that has made Vista the worst, most bug-infested version of Windows since Windows 95: Compatibility issues with my scanner and my PDA (both needed some sort of "workaround" to get them to work with Vista), Windows Explorer crashes, Windows Explorer opening up to weird views (file names only, or music details when I was expecting file details) and more memory swallowed up. And this is after having installed "Service Pack 1" on it last week.

Now, on to my point: Why am I pissed off at Microsoft? Because despite all the trouble I and other Vista users have put up with, Microsoft is sending the following message: We have decided that we can no longer be bothered with investing any more significant time or money into making Vista a solid OS, and we don't care about the time and money you invested into it. If you have Vista, screw you, you'll just have to buy Windows 7 next year.

And if they didn't mean to send that message, they should price the Vista-to-Win7 upgrade about $50 lower than the XP-to-Win7 upgrade, as compensation for all the crap Vista users have been dealing with.

Seriously, when I decided on Vista last year, it was with the idea that Microsoft would stand behind it for at least a few years, based on their recent track record with the three previous versions of Windows:
  • Windows 3.x: Windows 3.0 came out in 1990; there was a minor upgrade (version 3.1) shortly afterwards, but it was the OS that allowed "IBM-compatible" machines to maintain their dominance over the Macintosh, and the reason why, to this day, the vast majority of computers in corporate offices today are PCs (as opposed to Macs). Win 3.1 was solid when it was replaced by the 32-bit Windows 95.
  • Windows 4.x: Microsoft may not have used version numbering on its packaging, but the first 32-bit version of Windows, Windows 95, is formally known as Windows 4.0. It came out in (you guessed it) 1995 and was full of bugs, but Microsoft upgraded it a few times (first with "Operating System Release 2" in 1997, then Windows 98 in 1998, and finally Windows Millennium Edition in 2000). In the end, Windows Me (aka version 4.9) was basically Win95 minus many of the bugs, plus a few bells and whistles.
  • Windows 5.x: This is the one we know as XP. Like the previous version, it wasn't great, but after two service packs, it's one of the most solid Windows versions ever. A third service pack is on the way and will be available to download at the end of this month.
Needless to say, I'd like Mr. Gates to reconsider his statement, or like I said, he should at least cut Vista owners a break on the Windows 7 upgrade.

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