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BlueWolf's Howl

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February 01, 2007

To Vista or not?

Since everyone else is talking about Vista, I might as well. A recent article that I read discussed Microsoft's lack of support for Office 2007 and Zune on Windows 2000. According to the article, the installation restrictions are because Microsoft is trying to compel people to upgrade to Vista.

Although I can understand some of it, I think it's very poor timing. I can understand Microsoft's reluctance to support every version ever created. As an administrator, it was frustrating and burdensome to support multiple versions of the OS simultaneously. Imagine being in charge of a large network of say 500,000 users. These users are running a mix of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000 Pro, XP Home and XP Pro -- all based on user preference for operating system of choice. And you have to be able to troubleshoot any problem (hardware or software) that may arise from anything the user does with that system. This is a task of near-Herculean proportions. Now narrow that down to one or two current operating systems and compare. Say all of those 500,000 computers are running Windows 2000 Pro. Or even Windows 2000 Pro and XP Pro. Now you have something that you can wrap your arms around. Work with the current stuff and you can keep everyone up-to-date and fix just about anything that comes at you.

I can understand Microsoft's desire to push people along. I can understand that you don't want to come out with a Great New Product [like Zune] and have to write software to make it compatible with Windows 95. And yes, there are some people who are still running Windows 95 and Windows 98. But the demarc should have been between Win 9x and 2000 instead of drawing the line at 2000 itself.

With Windows 2000, there was a drastic change in the operating system. The operating system no longer allowed direct access to devices. The differences between 2000 and XP are not as drastic. And even Microsoft recognizes this in an off-hand way. Look at the certifications from NT and 2000. You had to take quite a few exams to move from MCSE NT to MCSE 2000. An 'accelerated' exam was available for a limited time but was outrageously hard, ambiguously scored, and seemed to be a 'bone' thrown our way to prevent too much protest. Compare this to the MCSE 2000 -- MCSE 2003 upgrade path. Two tests are all it takes. The tests have been available since the inception of the MCSE 2003 certification. They're certainly not a walk in the park, but are comparable to Microsoft's other exams (the limited-time, but 'free' Accelerated exam was not).

Another reason I dislike this line drawn in the sand is due to Vista's requirements. It WILL require hardware (memory and CPU) resources that most computers do not currently use. But I haven't seen yet that Vista is all that drastically different to require such upgrades. Perhaps it's because Vista is doing many things -by default- that were previously options in 2K/XP? But for whatever reason, Vista will require new hardware. 2K was an easier path - since you could upgrade your current system with a bit more RAM and keep your system. For Vista, most motherboards will not handle the CPU and memory requirements -- therefore, you're really looking at a new computer.

But will most people bite? If I don't plonk down a ton of money and upgrade, what will I not be able to do? Oh... I won't be able to run Office 2007 or Zune. Hmmm... well, Office 2000 (which runs great on Win2K) still works fine and does what most people want in office productivity. And Zune... well, regardless of Microsoft's marketing budget, most people think music = iPod. So neither of those apps are going to compel me to run out and buy a new computer with Vista on it.

Granted, I will personally want a new computer soon. But that's personal motivation just because I'm a puter geek. And I want an almost-top-of-the-line CPU and as much memory as I can stuff into it. I might as well run Vista. But that's not everyone. Most people I know probably won't budge from their current OS. But they'll probably try to shove Office 2007 on their computer and get frustrated because it won't work.

But I think Microsoft missed the timing for a line in the sand. It should have come with 2000. Now it's a bit too late.

Posted by BlueWolf on February 1, 2007 05:56 PM