Ballmer: Vista A Work In Progress

Windows Vista not ready for prime time

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Microsoft’s CEO admits what thousands of techies have thought of the company for years: they toss stuff into the user community and need a couple of additional releases to make it work.

Vista isn’t finished yet. That’s not another hack writer’s opinion, but an assessment of the operating system from the man who runs the company. Steve Ballmer made an admission about Vista that, in the wake of internal emails at Microsoft criticizing the product, really serves as a footnote to the kerfuffle.

Ballmer’s blunt commentary occurred at an event for the company’s Most Valuable Professionals in Seattle. In a transcript of his remarks, he made this observation about the beleaguered Vista:

Windows Vista, a work in progress. (Applause.) Seriously, a very important piece of work, and I think we did a lot of things right, and I think we have a lot of things we need to learn from. Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases. And we just sort of kiss that stone and move on, because it turns out many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles. The design point, what you should be targeting, we can never let that happen again. We had some things that we can’t just set the dial back that I think people wish we could.

Vista is bigger than XP, it’s going to stay bigger than XP. We have to make sure it doesn’t get bigger still, and that the performance, and the battery and the compatibility we’re driving on the things that we need to drive hard to improve.

Kissing the stone refers to the legendary Blarney Stone, reputed to give the gift of eloquence to the kisser. We’re not sure what eloquence has to do with Vista’s driver incompatibilities, but to cite the immortal movie Animal House, forget it, he’s rolling.

As we noted earlier, no one with a history of following Microsoft through the years will be surprised for a picosecond that Vista arrived not ready for prime time. Microsoft’s need for three releases to bring software up to speed is legendary.

One need go back no farther than the browser wars of the early days of the Web. With Netscape winning that category, Microsoft released its free-forever Internet Explorer version 1. Awful. Version 2. Less awful. Version 3.02 came along, and Microsoft pulled even with Netscape.

The big difference with Vista is people paid actual money for the OS, whether as a standalone installation or as an OEM license with a new PC purchase. Enough people have been unhappy about Vista to get noticed, especially the Microsoft insiders like Steven Sinofsky, to make Vista look like a bad proposition for PC users right now.

Even Ballmer thinks it has issues.

Ballmer: Vista A Work In Progress
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  • http://www.vistaphotos.net/vista Jeff

    AMEN! comes from the masses!!
    I’ve not been to eager to upgrade my working desktop (photographer with well over 10K pictures) I got a new laptop last summer and I’ve been slowly learning to navigate vista (the kicker is my Company name is VistaPhotography.com) :-)
    Anyway one of my favorite things is the Raw viewer that came out for XP but was not updated for V. This allowed you to view a thumbnail of a raw file from anywhere on the system. To do so in V, I had to load picasa on the laptop to do so convienently. They say you can but the method is so convoluted that going to Google is a no brainer…

    In the end we all ask the basic question. Why upgrade for the sake of upgrading. If you have a benficial tool or speed boos to a OS upgrade then I’ll upgrade with all the other lemmings but I’ll be damed if I’ll upgrade to V before it proves itself.




    • Lyle

      I still have plenty of issues with XP and would have updated my last PC with an Apple machine if I would have had any idea how difficult it was going to be to get XP to work with the new PC upgrade.

      I was also not happy with how difficult Microsoft XP made it to upgrade my QuickBooks to 2008 version.

      In fact it looks as if I would have to upgrade all of my software to a “Vista version” in order for it all to work with Vista. Wow how much would that cost the average guy? It’s a no brainer.


  • Guest

    If you haven’t upgraded your RAM ( 2gb min.) you can’t even run Vista!

    With such an OVER PRICED, FAT operating system, will users be compensated?

    Microsoft has done a really lousy thing with this "new" OS. Maybe it’s time to say sorry and nothing says sorry better than a big fat rebate.




    • http://www.stuffdone.com Guest

      Microsoft has done a great service for someone else. Vista is the best possible advertisement for Apple and the great Open Source OS, Linux.

      Yes Linux is free, Installs easier than Windows now and has every application you can ever want.  Also free. 

      Unlike Vista, Linux will let you choose what features you need so you don’t have to dump in all the bloat you don’t need.  Don’t worry about drivers any more. Virtually every piece of hardware you have is supported and detected automatically.

      It is the BIG secret Microsoft does not want you to know about. Free and reliable.

      Apple is good but expensive. Not much free there even though it is based on a linux type OS.  Applications not cross-compatible.

      Let’s not mention IBM’s "Warp" OS…superior to Windows at the time…but IBM could not sell snow shoes to eskimos and it died.

  • http://www.sandysandy.net Guest

    I seem to be one of very few who actually likes vista. I’ve had no problems with it. Well, there was a problem when I installed IE8 but I expect the with beta.

  • Ron

    Talk about frustrating!!  Since V is on my wife’s laptop (unfortunately she’s not as "literate" as I am (that’s not saying a whole lot (;-))  I can’t tell you how many HOURS I have spent on the phone MS tech support (yeah, the call is toll-free but what about my time?) over the past 10 months.  They – MS just doesn’t understand that we consumers want & I dare say expect that the product should work as advertised right out of the shoot.  We shouldn’t have to wait for a SP to "fix" what should have been addressed in the first place.

    Now don’t get me started on QB!  QB is going to have to wait a LONGGG time for me to do the 2008 upgrade especially if Vista is involved.  When we upgraded QB to QB POS latest version, we paid for it in 3 months of non-stop head aches because there were a few "bugs" that hadn’t been worked out.

    Intuit’s main problem from what I can see is that you are FORCED to upgrade or you’re just SOL when they choose to stop supporting the product.

    I think they’re all in cohoots!

  • http://www.fromtheabbey.com/ Jeff

    The worst thing about the deal is that Dell didn’t even give me the option of buying a new laptop with XP instead of Vista!  Knowing the new OS would be hinky, I asked if I could get XP instead of Vista and was told that the model of laptop I wanted was only available with Vista.  Now I’m stuck with a machine that only works some of the time, after pumping in a lot of money to upgrade my programs and add RAM.  I think a refund would be the least Microsoft could do.

  • http://www.compmonster.com Eric

    If Windows Vista is still a work in progress, than maybe what people pay for Vista should be a work in progress.

    Hmmm….probably not going to happen.

    I don’t hate Vista and really have not encountered too many problems with it yet, but it still isn’t right to pay for something that just isn’t quite done yet.

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Partners in Grime

     I’m surprised they’d say this in public … talk about killing the golden goose.

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