PCA mag review of Windows 7 pre-beta

  TopCat® 14:38 07 Dec 08
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I see the PCA reviewers have really gone to town on this forthcoming OS in the current magazine, issue 163, page 60. What I've read there will further entrench my desire to stay with WinXP.

Randall Kennedy writes at the end of a most revealing review: "One thing's for sure: Microsoft's once unassailable dominance of the desktop OS market is wobbling on a precipice. Vista has permanently eroded the company's reputation and, from what we've seen of Windows 7 so far, Microsoft still doesn't 'get it'."

For their sake and for that of their consumers, I hope MS take a long, hard look at this OS before it's too late. TC.

  Forum Editor 15:09 07 Dec 08

I find that an interesting comment, and it revives a question that's long been in my mind. The amount of feedback that floods into Microsoft is phenomenal - the company is inundated with it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Microsoft software developers couldn't be given a better picture of what their end-users like, and what they dislike, and it's been going on for years.

When you go to the Microsoft headquarters in america and meet the people who formulate plans for future software releases your overriding impression is that here is a bunch of people who really know their subject - they're enthusiastic and motivated, and the one thing they want to know, above all else, is 'what do you think of it?

'It' being their product, their baby, the application or operating system that occupies their every waking moment. They are hungry for feedback and clever enough to know that what they think the market wants isn't always what it likes in the end. Microsoft has been at this software development business for many years now, and the one thing the company must have learnt in all that time is 'listen to what your customers tell you'.

How is it then, that the company 'still doesn't get it'? How is it that some of the brightest software developers and business managers in the world can't see what we ordinary folk see; how can they be blind to what is so obvious?

Microsoft's answer - at least one of Microsoft's answers - is that its critics are a vociferous minority, and that the vast majority of those who use its products are perfectly happy with them. They say that they're used to their company being pilloried for this or that, and that they're a soft target - it's pretty easy for anyone to take a crack at Microsoft on a web forum or in a magazine, knowing that there'll always be people who like that kind of thing.

I admit to being puzzled. On the one hand I've seen the irritating face of Microsoft on many occasions - the face that doesn't want to address criticisms,or engage with its end-users in any meaningful dialogue. That's the Microsoft of the press release and the curious jargon - the Microsoft that hands down tablets from the mountainside. On the other hand I've been on numerous beta testing panels and seen the painstaking way in which a giant company sets about gathering in detailed feedback and acting upon it. I've seen bug after bug revealed in special beta panel forums, and seen them being directly addressed by the people who actually design the software. I've experienced the way the Microsoft Press Office can be enticed into helping people like me to get access to decision-makers and problem solvers. It doesn't always work, and a great deal depends on your method of approach - I've found that if you don't treat these people as enemies of journalism, they respond accordingly.

The company is something of an enigma as far as I'm concerned, but over many years I've learnt that it's far from being monster some people make out. Whether Windows 7 is a triumph or a turkey remains to be seen, but one thing I do know is that Microsoft is very well aware of what's riding on it - bad press is bad press, when all is said and done, and there's not a business in the world that doesn't care about bad product or service reviews in the press.

  TopCat® 17:11 07 Dec 08

That's very well put, if I might say so FE, and from someone with inroads to some 'inner circles' of Microsoft you must feel quite frustrated with them at times.

From just an observation from what I read about MS, it seems to me that the organisation is so huge that critisisms they receive never seem to reach those that really matter. Those that can command changes to be made when many potential consumers voice their misgivings on, as in this case, software they would like to adopt.

It's high time they took due notice of expert critisism and produce products that work properly straight out of the box. After all, it's in their interests as well. TC.

  spuds 18:38 07 Dec 08

That might be one of the failings of Microsoft, its far to big to listen to the small guy on the street, and perhaps the FE as stated this in his press office comment. Its a case or appears to be, of moving on for perhaps 'bigger and better'. But is this a failing or wise move.

No one wants a new product thats going to cost them, yet again, a fair bit of money, and at the same times have noticeable problems, which requires constant updates, some of which may not necessarily resolve an issue.

  QuizMan 19:15 07 Dec 08

I must say at the outset that I do not like Vista. I have stuck with XP, but it's on my wife's laptop plus friends' PC's. However, I think that here at PCA speakers' corner we are computer savvy lot. We know what we want from our PC's and how to configure our operating system to match those needs. Currently XP does that for me so I see no need to change.

That is not the same the world over and I am never surprised when asked by less experienced friends to explain seemingly simple tasks. Microsft has to allow for these people too and it is in a no win situation. Unlike FE, I've not seen Microsoft in action and only get to see the end product, but with a truly global product you are never going to please everyone.

I am looking forward to the arrival of Windows 7. As yet, I have know idea if I shall take the plunge. As TC intimates, Microsoft has a reputation to rebuild and it will be fascinating to watch how they go about it.

  amonra 19:25 07 Dec 08

On all my visits to the US over the years, I am continually amazed at the response of most Americans when you dare to criticise anything American. Doesn't everyone love America, its people and its products ? They are aghast that anybody should even consider using anything other than Product X designed and manufactured in the good ole US of A. It's the best, period !
I think the staff at Microsoft are in that position, everyone is too frightened to think of criticising their boss's opinion. It cant possibly be wrong !!!
Just mention that they were a tad late entering the second world war.................

  Forum Editor 23:36 07 Dec 08

Your comment about the war is tasteless and completely inappropriate here, and it's also ill-informed, but this isn't the place for that debate.

Microsoft has plenty of global experience - there are Microsoft Offices all over the planet, and a lack of awareness of the global market isn't something that's a problem. As for criticising their boss, that's not an issue either. Bill Gates is primarily a software engineer - he understands software writers, and he knows the problems associated with product development.

When contemplating Microsoft it's important to understand what it must be like to work for one of the world's most successful companies. The people at Microsoft believe in the company's products with a fervour that should be the envy of many UK and European businesses, but they're not blinkered - they're well aware of their failures, and they know how important it is to get things right next time.

I think the company's failing is its reticence to engage in a meaningful way. I can talk to a senior Microsoft person if I ask to, but only if I submit a game plan in advance. The person will want to know what I'm going to ask, and sometimes I'll get no more than an emailed response from the Press Office. People are frightened of talking off the cuff, and sometimes I feel that I'm shovelling smoke. I don't want to appear to single the company out for special criticism on this - other big companies often try to speak to you via a PR interface - but over the years Microsoft has tended to be less approachable, although there have been some improvements of late.

Windows 7 will be an important moment for Microsoft, but then so was Vista. Perhaps we'll all get a pleasant surprise come launch day, or perhaps we'll be underwhelmed. My hunch is that we'll see both responses - there will be brickbats and bouquets.

Sometimes I wonder what we would all talk about if we didn't have good old Microsoft and Windows to chew on.

  jimv7 19:12 08 Dec 08

Windows 7 is only a rough draft of the os at the moment, no more than xp beta or vista beta, a lot can and will change before the final release.

  skeletal 18:26 09 Dec 08

FE has produced a good “essay” on M$; I myself both love and hate them. I do some small scale software development using VBA in Office and I am amazed at how clever Office is. I would imagine that 99% of people using Office know only 1% of its capabilities (particularly when adding functionality via VBA).

Thus, at this point I bow and scrape at the phenomenal intellect of the software developers that can produce such an outstandingly brilliant product.

And then, the same product has a number of stupid bugs and anomalies that the average two year old would have sorted out before release.

My views on Vista have been well aired on these forums before and thus I will not repeat them here and I pray their next OS is a considerable improvement.

M$: is it the greatest anomaly of the modern world??!!

Skeletal

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