Ballmer: Vista A Work In Progress

    April 18, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

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.