The positive buzz for Windows 7 is creating an interesting challenge for Microsoft: It appears to be making it tougher to get businesses to move to Windows Vista.
And it's not like there has been a mad rush on that front to begin with.
Gartner did a survey in October that found about 30 percent of large businesses were likely to skip Vista and a significant number of other companies still hadn't decided what to do.
Plaudits for Windows 7, combined with a weakening economy, could mean that as many as half of businesses decide to skip Vista … Read more
Microsoft launched a new ad this past weekend showing a delightful four-year-old girl using Windows Live Photo Gallery to upload, edit, and share pictures. At the end of the ad, she shows how "easy" it is to perform those basic functions and says, "I'm a PC and I am four and a half."
Once again, Microsoft is trying to show that there's a lighter side to its operation, which has taken a beating from Apple over the past few years. During Apple's "I'm a PC and I'm a Mac" ad campaign, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company continually suggested the software giant is dull and that Vista can't compete on any level with Mac OS X.
Microsoft's public image declined as Apple gained control of the topic. The average consumer only heard one side of the story.
Microsoft was forced to fight back against Apple and it started its $300 million campaign by enlisting the help of Jerry Seinfeld. The Gates-Seinfeld spots didn't discuss the value of owning a Vista machine and said little about Microsoft itself. Instead, they used Seinfeld's image and humor to convey a message: "Bill Gates is synonymous with Microsoft and just like him, we're able to loosen up, poke fun at ourselves, and we want you to realize that although Apple has painted us in a certain light, we're nothing like that."
Those who follow the tech world, readers of this column, and others [like your editor, Don] believed those ads failed to capture, well, anything positive. They believed that Gates looked awkward on camera. The humor was lost on them, and because they didn't discuss Microsoft products, they saw them as a waste of money.
I couldn't disagree more.… Read more
In an interview with Computerworld UK, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had some interesting things to say about the enterprise and its desire to keep Windows XP instead of switching to Vista.
"If you deploy a 4- or 5-year-old operating system today, most people will ask their boss why the heck they don't have the stuff they have at home," Ballmer told the publication.
Ballmer went on to say that it's incumbent upon the business world to make employees happy and comfortable and the best way to do that is to deploy Vista as soon as possible.
According to market research firm Forrester, Windows Vista can be found on less than 10 percent of all the computers companies in North America and Europe are running. Windows XP can be found on over 71 percent of enterprise computers. Ballmer wants that to change.
But his premise that an increasing number of people will be asking for Vista doesn't really make sense. According to research firm Net Applications, Windows XP still controls almost 64 percent of the worldwide consumer market. It's trailed by Vista and Mac OS X 10.5 with 27 percent market share and 5 percent market share, respectively.
Based on those figures, I'm not convinced that there are that many people walking into their supervisor's office wondering when Vista will be deployed at the office. In fact, it's far more likely that they would rather use something they know--XP.
But Ballmer's desire to get enterprises to switch to Vista has me wondering what's so bad about Windows XP. Is it really such an awful operating system that every company should switch?
No way.… Read more
Despite criticism that Windows Vista came in too many versions, Microsoft is moving ahead with plans to offer just as many editions of Windows 7.
Although the software maker will offer at least six distinct versions of the new operating system, Microsoft said to expect almost all PCs sold in the U.S. to come with either the Home Premium or Professional editions of the operating system.
"We're going to focus on two versions," Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte said in an interview, noting that those two versions will likely account for 80 percent of Windows … Read more
According to the report, Zheng believes that because Windows 7's User Account Control isn't as annoying as it was in Windows Vista, Microsoft is leaving its users open to more threats by third parties trying to exploit vulnerabilities. Zheng contends that due to changes in UAC, "malicious code could turn off alerts entirely with the user getting little notice that such a change had been made."
Zheng said in a blog post that he and a fellow blogger, Rafael Rivera, have designed a proof-of-concept code to prove his theory. He believes, "at a minimum, that Microsoft's default setting (should) also warn users if a change is being made to UAC itself."
In Windows Vista, a UAC prompt popped up each time any major change was made to the system. Some users found that annoying. Realizing that, Microsoft decided that in Windows 7, users would be able to decide how often they want to be notified. The default setting in the beta release of the OS only notifies users when a third-party application is making a change.
It should be noted that Zheng's contention is based on the Windows 7 beta, which means practically nothing until the final build hits store shelves. Microsoft can change that setting at any time and make this issue go away. More importantly, it can be changed by the administrator, so the issue, while present, shouldn't be blown out of proportion.
But it's because of that setting that Windows 7 is less annoying. But should we accept annoyance anyway, if it means more security? I think we should.… Read more
I don't know why it took so long, but Microsoft has finally fixed Vista. Only it isn't calling it Vista. Instead the company is working on what it's calling a new version of Windows, Windows 7. The operating system isn't commercially available, but is likely to be out by the end of the year.
I don't know how much Microsoft plans to charge for the upgrade once it's officially available, but the company should give it away free to anyone who bought Vista or a PC with Vista preinstalled. Even though there are some new features, Windows 7 strikes me mostly as a bug fix. It speeds up Windows and fixes one of its most annoying "features" and makes one particularly useful change to the user interface. It seems to me that anyone who paid for Vista is entitled to this upgrade.
Microsoft has launched a free, public, beta test of the software, but to participate you must download it by Feb. 10. It's not for everyone. Microsoft strongly recommends that "only experienced computer users sign up" for the beta program. Displayed on the screen is the caveat, "For testing purposes only." The beta will expire in August, but should be replaced by a newer beta or the real product. If you're game, you can download the beta test of Windows 7 at Microsoft's Web site
I installed it on two machines, a brand new desktop and an older notebook PC. The notebook installation was an upgrade of an old copy of Vista that I've had for a couple of years. As is often the case with Windows, the OS on that machine got pretty slow after two years of use. But Windows 7 sped it up. Until now, every new version of Windows was slower than the one it replaced.
Georgetown University is banning the use of the Windows 7 beta, informing students and faculty it will not support the trial version of Microsoft's latest operating system, according to a report in InformationWeek
The university's information technology group notes it generally does not support any beta version of software, unless otherwise noted.
And in the case of the Windows 7 beta, the Georgetown IT group reiterates Microsoft's warning that the beta could disable security software, as well as cause other hardware, such as printers and video cards, to function incorrectly, according to the report.
The university IT … Read more
While the world and its dog awaits Windows 7, Microsoft has another Vista service pack waiting in the wings.
Service Pack 2 is now into its release candidate phase, and Redmond has made an "escrow" version available to certain testers.
ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley got her hands on the e-mail that accompanied this week's news:
We are excited to announce RC-Escrow build as the next milestone release of Windows Vista SP2 / Windows Server 2008, now available for download. This build is available on Windows Update for download and install, or by a number of other package … Read more