I worry when Microsoft tells me they are going to give me “the facts” about its products – the notion is to reminiscent of their Get the Facts website which compared Linux to Windows. This site was an object lesson in omission, deception, and out-and-out prevarication on the relative capabilities of Linux and Windows. With Vista on the desktop, the comparisons to Linux are so odious Microsoft does not dare to try to shade the truth – the gap, especially in performance, start-up costs and even TCO-Toal Cost of Operations, are so bad there is no shading possible.
Nonetheless, I visited the above Microsoft website and got their answer to their own question “Why do you have to stop selling Windows XP?”. This is the direct quote, copied from the website – I have only underlined points I shall address below:
“Microsoft was founded on a commitment to innovate and to provide our customers with the best software. Thats part of our corporate DNA, and occasionally it means tough decisions.
We dont make them lightly.
The lifespan of every Microsoft product is carefully mapped from launch to retirement. Windows XP is no exception. We do this to ensure you always get the most out of your PC experience. (Read about Windows lifecycle policy.)
Weve spent more than a year consulting with our customers and industry partners to ensure that were doing the right thing. We understand that not everyone may agree with our decision—just as not everyone was happy to see Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows ME retire (OK, perhaps not ME).
But we think the time is right.
We also want to underscore that were not, as some people have asserted, “pulling the plug” on our popular operating system. Let us be clear: Although Windows XP wont be sold in stores, Microsoft and its partners will continue to offer technical support for Windows XP for months and years to come. In fact, Microsoft plans to support Windows XP until 2014.
Were proud of Windows XP, a product that has empowered and entertained hundreds of millions of people in the last eight years. But technology doesnt stand still. And neither can we. ”
This Statement Has all the Earmarks of The Commander in Chiefs Remarks About Having to go War with Iraq.
This is a supremely unpopular move by Microsoft – it is another step in the ruining of their Brand as the source of innovative, low-cost, high performance software. Yet this statement has all the hallmarks of a propaganda piece.
1)First state a worthy goal – We do this to ensure you always get the most out of your PC experience.
2)Then say it was a tough decision – We dont make them lightly.
3)Then say we consulted you – Weve spent more than a year consulting with our customers and industry partners to ensure that were doing the right thing and then be absolutely mum about the fact that there has been 3-4 Web write-in campaigns that have garnered not thousands but hundred of thousands of petitions to prolong XP sales beyond June 30th 2008.
4)Then acknowledge some will disagree – We understand that not everyone may agree with our decision….
5)Then provide no reasons for making the decision – But we think the time is right. Nothing more. No rational nor list of reasons. Not even who made the decision. Just cutoff the debate – take it or leave it. At least the Commander in Chief said he called the shots on going to War in Iraq. This is a travesty and contributes mightily to the ruining of the Windows Brand. In effect, Microsoft is saying to its customers “we dont need to make any explanation for our highly unpopular move. There certainly is a rationale, but we are not offering it to you for consideration or scrutiny”.
6)Instead immediately divert attention to a sop – Microsoft plans to support Windows XP until 2014
This is a classic propaganda piece, chillingly 1984 in style – we have decided for you and we dont consider you the customer worthy, capable, discrminating enough to understanding our arguments/reasons – so we will give you only “the time is right”. This haughty hubris has some very damaging consequences.
Flak Catchers for Redmond
This is a very unpopular decision because XP outperforms Windows Vista in numerous vital categories. First, it has much better compatibility with old and new software. Second, it is more familiar and has much lower training costs. But it is performance where there is one of the strongest gaps as noted at Infoworld=>“Windows Vista is a bloated pig of an operating system. In fact, compared to Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or 3, Vista requires roughly twice the hardware resources to deliver comparable performance. Even stripped to the bone, with every new UI enhancement turned off and every new background service disabled, Vista is a good 40 percent slower than XP at a variety of business productivity tasks. “ And these results are before XPs Service Pack 3.
Clearly XP outperforms Vista and meets an OS niche that Vista is bypassing – simple desktop multi-app operations.
And so now Microsoft VARs, consultants and supporters clearly have a flak catcher role. They must defend the indefensible to their Microsoft customers. Michael Healey, in a CIOs Uncensored opinion pice in Information Week (Junee 9, 2008, p54) argues that the circle of Microsoft Flak-Catchers is expanded to IT in general. Healey shows that CEOs, CFOs and other top executives believe that IT shops, not Microsoft are foisting the unpopular Vista over XP onto their organizations. IT executives become the scapegoat for Microsofts ill considered decision. Yet recen decisions by Redmond show how reversible NO XP Can Be.
The Windows XP Flip Flop
In early April of this year, Microsoft announced there would be one reprieve for XP sales beyond June 30th 2008 – Windows XP Home edition would be allowed to be sold on Minibooks like the Asus Eee and the countless other $300 or less notebooks reaching the market now that the Asus has pioneered the segment. And lo and behold, Microsoft has announced that XP can be bought for this machine. Now why allow that ? Because a)Linux heretofore has owned this market place and b)Vista just simply wont fit into the 512to1000MB, 2 to 8 GB diskspace that is the current Mini notebook operating space. So, on Minibooks, the “time is not right”. Right now I certainly would not like to be a Microsoft evangelist, VAR, consultant, business user or employee – because you gals and guys get to be the flak catchers for a Bush League decision.