In my younger years (and when I still lived near Jericho Beach in Vancouver BC), the lyrics from one mid-30s female singer at the annual Folk Music Festival stuck with me: "Ladies! Can you hear it? It's your biological timebomb." The dilemma of holding off having children, yet knowing the deadline was approaching.
Microsoft's multi-year delay of Vista reminded me of that moment on the beach. In today's case, the dilemma for the software monopolist is being late selling software no customer needs. Almost all the computers in our office run Windows 2000; the exception is my new notebook with Windows XP, and I found XP has no advantage over 2000. (Well, XP can access 3GB RAM over 2000's 2GB limit, but our computers have 1GB, so the benefit is theoretical.)
Microsoft makes money automatically and monoplositically because its software is installed on nearly all computers sold. The consumer gets XP (and next year, Vista) "free" with the purchase of a new computer. With computer technology stalled (except in the area of graphics boards for games), consumers have little need for new computers. Hence Microsoft pledging to spend a half-billion dollars on convincing consumers and businesses to be unsatisfied with 98/Me/NT/2000/XP -- you know, all those other really great, mind-blowing, all-capable releases of Windows.
Wanna chuckle? Install Windows 98 just to read the screens where Microsoft boasts of its Internet and multimedia capabilities. Yup, in the past the future was fabulous. But now we're cynical. Listen to what the anonymous author of Mini-Microsoft writes from within the bowels of Microsoft:
In the meantime, the discussion of how you'd sell Vista in 30-seconds to a non-techy consumer hasn't come up with much Abbie-understandable reasons other than "cooler games!"
Sure, Abbie probably spends a lot of time with solitaire and minesweeper, so that's good. But most of it focuses either on issues so deep and technical that the average consumer is going to shrug and say, "H*ll, I don't think I need any of that!" or on issues that make you think that XP is a ticking time-bomb of unstable code ready to explode 1s and 0s over anyone who looks at it wrong.
And as for Alpha Geeks and super-users, it sounds like LUA [Least-privilege User Account prevents access to Adminstrator privileges -- another Vista "feature"] is going to be a daily pain in the patootie.
The good news? Well, we've got plenty of time to conjure up reasons why Vista is going to be better than XP in a way that anyone can understand and agree with. Plus $500 million to spend doing it.
And that, folks, is the best that the smartest people in the world were able to come up with. Mini-Microsoft her/himself wishes the entire Windows management team would get fired for endangering the rest of Microsoft.