I've been bored lately. There's really not a lot going on in the software world at the moment. We see the occasional acquisition but we seem to be in more of a stage of fine evolution rather than gross level revolution. So I've had a chance to play with some stuff and I thought I'd share my findings.
I have a fairly new computer (well, new for me, it's about a year old) that came with Vista somethingorother pre-installed. I say somethingorother because Vista has so many different versions that I can no longer keep track. This is one of many computers at my house running lots of different OS's - Mac, Linux, Windows/XP. All doing their own things. The Vista machine, however, is really one of a kind. It appears that many of the operations that I need to perform I need to confirm many, many times. After clicking on all of the "are you sure" buttons the screen goes black, everything hesitates and a final confirmation comes up asking me if I'm "really, really sure". Apparently, Vista's new security method is to ask as many times as possible before doing something dangerous. There are, of course, exceptions. The other day Microsoft's One-Care asked if I wanted it to clean up some un-needed startup programs. Knowing the number of confirmation levels I would go through I said yes, expecting it to show me the list of startup programs. Instead, it blithely deleted One-Care as a startup program with no further warning. Everyone's read about Vista everywhere else but I thought I would rate it anyway as Spectacularly Crappy.
The next product on my list is my Microsoft XBox 360. Besides the fact that it heats my bedroom to uncomfortable levels, it's extremely noisy and prone to repeatedly needing to be restarted. I also have a Sony PS3 which is very quiet and hasn't yet needed a restart. Again, Microsoft's products come in at the Spectacularly Crappy level.
Years ago I had two Unix servers in my office to conduct some testing for NIST related to the SQL standard. One of the vendors came in to ask if I had any feedback on their server. I told them they could do a lot to reduce the noise level as it sounded much like a hovercraft about to take off. I shut it down so they could hear the sound level of the other machine as a means of comparison. Once there machine was shut down they asked me to start up the other so they could hear the difference and they were quite disappointed when I told them it was already running. This is what that XBox 360 is like - a frikkin' hovercraft about to take off. My wife can hear the fans down the hall and talks about how peaceful it seems when I finally shut it off.
I mention the comparison because I was once asked by stock analysts my thoughts on Microsoft stock. I told them that I didn't see a strong future for Microsoft for back-end IT operations (I still don't) but that if they were bullish on Microsoft because of the consumer market then I couldn't provide a strong reason to disagree.
Today I'm sure Microsoft is incapable of doing anything innovative and I suspect that they really can't do anything competent either. From failures to force their products as standards, to XBox 360 to Vista to HD-DVD they keep coming up with the same level of product review from across their markets: Spectacularly Crappy. Have they no shame? How embarrassing it must be to be involved with any of these products or the company that produces them.
When I grew frustrated with both Vista and XBox I starting watching TV. Lo and behold there are now a series of Ford cars that have Sync powered by Microsoft to do things like listen to music or make telephone calls. WTF. My wife listens to me cuss out Microsoft's products almost every day; there's no way she would ever let me drive down the road attempting to get a car to play my music instead of hers. I can see it now, cruising down the road and saying, "Play Johnny Cash" and all of a sudden having Yanni come up. I'd probably just drive off a bridge.
Why would anyone want to take the frustration they experience in front of a Windows PC or an XBox 360 and transplant it inside of their car.
The problem is that Microsoft doesn't appear to see it. Each issue is isolated and completely unrelated. The reality is that all of these issues are evidence of a company out of touch with the market and with themselves.