Windows 7: Release Candidate 1

When we wrote our Windows Vista Performance Guide, we were left wondering about Microsoft’s ability to sell Vista to a community of users well entrenched with Windows XP

Among those that won't become switchers, Microsoft's own worst enemy is itself, as it needs to prove that Vista is a worthwhile upgrade to XP when XP is already so refined. For many users in the consumer space, Vista is simply a version of Windows where (to borrow a quote from Field of Dreams) "If you build it, they will come." These people will get Vista on their new computers and they'll like it because it is good, but having never had the chance to decide if they didn't want it.

Now two and a quarter years later we can see the outcome of that. It’s not favorable to Microsoft.

While Vista’s adoption has not been a failure, it hasn’t necessarily been a success story either. Microsoft’s own worst enemy was XP, and the users complacent with it have been in no big rush to upgrade. The primary vehicle for moving Vista has been new computers, and even that has taken a hit in the kneecaps with the sudden rise of netbooks, which fit poorly with an OS that was made for newer, faster computers.

Further complicating matters is that the quality of Vista wasn’t particularly stellar at launch. We’ve already covered this with our Vista SP1 article, so we won’t completely rehash this, but specific performance problems such as file copies (local and networked) and Vista’s hunger for virtual address space quickly made themselves evident. Netbooks drove this point home even harder –Vista doesn’t do so well with so little RAM.

Finally, Apple deserves a great deal of credit here for driving the stake into the public opinion of Vista. The extremely popular Get a Mac campaign took the dissent from above and managed to amplify it and sew it into the public at large. Apple made it popular to hate Vista, and Microsoft did too little too late on the marketing front to counter that. Never underestimate the power of marketing – many people can tell you they don’t like Vista, few can tell you why. That’s marketing.

Even though many of the technical problems were fixed before or at the launch of Vista SP1, by then it was too late. The public had become permanently dissatisfied with Vista. Regardless of the quality of the OS these days, the Vista name has become poisonous.

Of course as far as consumer sales are concerned, this hasn’t significantly dented Vista adoption. Vista’s still going out on virtually every new consumer-level computer shipped. People may be dissatisfied, but so far they’re not doing anything about it other than complaining. Business users on the other hand are acting, or rather are not acting. They’re not upgrading to Vista on existing computers, and on new computers they’re still installing XP. Vista’s not taking at the corporate level, and that’s Microsoft’s more immediate problem.

So here we are today with Windows 7 Release Candidate 1, Microsoft's grand attempt at taking Vista and building a more palatable operating system out of it. With Windows 7, Microsoft has ripped the Vista playbook to shreds and they are going an entirely different route. The goal: make Windows 7 successful before it even ships.

Windows 7: A New Marketing Approach
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  • thebeastie - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I guess what would be the most naive is to think that Windows 7 is about anything else but money, I mean they could easily improve Vista to have every feature that Windows 7 has, but they wont.
    MS has handed out whole new versions of DirectX and just about every other type of similar feature that is in Windows 7 so forth via service packs in the past.
    Some how come that is not possible these days? Its just about treating us like complete fools.

    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    ...You do know you're talking to yourself thebeastie??

    Are you really this stupid or is apple paying you to write this?
    Reply
  • SkateNY - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Microsoft is a company in decline. It's top managers, supporters, fanboys, and investors are all in denial about this.

    Their most recent OS was and remains an abysmal failure. Their attempt at competing in the MP3 market is a disaster, no matter how many people tell us that they love their Zune. Their "loss leader" in game consoles is just that...a leader in losses.

    Want proof? Look at the stock price for the past five years...at least five years.

    MSFT investors are desperate. They'll say and do anything to make others believe that the company is doing as well now as they were doing before they were adjudicated by the US Department of Justice as violating the Sherman Anti-trust Law in restraint of trade.

    They've lost a great deal of their investments over the past ten years. They're so desperate that they need to tell themselves -- and anyone who will listen -- that this is a great company.

    Sorry, but as is true in the rest of the real world, what has Microsoft done for anyone invested in them lately? The soft answer would be "nothing." The truth is that they've damaged their investors through bad judgment, poor management, and malfeasance.

    What they've done is move a great deal of their previously loyal customers to Apple and Linux. And a large percentage of them who haven't made that move are looking into it.

    It's a sad story. With so many resources, the best they could do was barely maintain their core products...Windows and Office. Not enough. The rest of the tech world is passing them by, and they don't seem to have a clue.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    Huh?

    Microsoft aren't going anywhere.
    Reply
  • SimpleLance - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    "It's a sad story. With so many resources, the best they could do was barely maintain their core products...Windows and Office. Not enough. The rest of the tech world is passing them by, and they don't seem to have a clue."

    Who in the tech world is passing them by? Linux? There is nothing in the Linux world that is an innovation. Everything is a just a bad copying of what they see in Windows. Same goes for OSX. Name a technology from Linux or OSX, and you will find that in Windows years ago.

    In the mean time, there is a lot of Windows features that neither OSX or Linux has.

    BitLocker drive encryption - OSX only has folder encryption. Windows has had that since Windows NT 3.x.

    Active Directory - now being copied by Linux

    Access Control List - only recently added in OSX. Has been in Windows NT 1.0.

    Remote Desktop - no equivalent at all in Linux or OSX. All they have is VNC. VNC started in the Windows world that got implemented in Linux and OSX. That is the worst form of remote desktop (screen scraping). Its like a high school student's home work. With Remote Desktop, Windows users threw away VNC as trash, and Linux/OSX picked it up - they really have nothing else, but junk.

    SMB - copied as Samba. Where is AppleTalk now? Apple does not know how to write an OS. They had to take BSD.

    DirectX - makes Open GL like a kid's work.

    Etc. etc.

    Who again is overtaking who?

    New in Win7...

    BITS Branch Cache (Vista had something called Peer Cache) - serverless P2P.

    Support for TRIM command for SSD - now perhaps being added to Linux. Another me too effort. Definitely not in OSX.

    Improved (less chatty) SMB - Samba is behind again. Nobody in the Linux world could make a better SMB. MS had to do it.

    VHD Booting - Linux folks probably scratching their head now. What is that? they say. How do we copy that?

    Plus all the other eye candy that people talk about.
    Reply
  • Hgr - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    "In the mean time, there is a lot of Windows features that neither OSX or Linux has."

    I am sure of that, but of those you are listing here, many simply do not apply.

    "BitLocker drive encryption - OSX only has folder encryption. Windows has had that since Windows NT 3.x."

    BitLocker is a trademark of Microsoft, so it will be difficult to find it in non-Microsoft operating systems. If you're looking for drive encryption in Linux, distributions have been supporting this for years.

    "Active Directory - now being copied by Linux"

    Yes, the Samba folks are quite active in reimplementing AD in Samba 4 - as a means of Windows interoperability. Note that DNS, LDAP and Kerberos, the three most important of the protocols that AD is built upon, have been copied by Microsoft from Unix systems. They have been available for Linux de facto from their inception.

    "Remote Desktop - no equivalent at all in Linux or OSX. All they have is VNC. VNC started in the Windows world that got implemented in Linux and OSX. That is the worst form of remote desktop (screen scraping). Its like a high school student's home work. With Remote Desktop, Windows users threw away VNC as trash, and Linux/OSX picked it up - they really have nothing else, but junk."

    Just because you don't know better solutions does not mean that there are none. VNC certainly isn't a native Linux remote desktop protocol, much less a universal tool for everyday work (it has not been designed to be one). For years, X11 SSH tunnelling has been available. For those who want a low-latency remote desktop, the NX compression protocol and software suite have been available for quite some time, and many are perfectly happy with it. Linux's NX can compress even Windows RDP even further. ;-)

    "DirectX - makes Open GL like a kid's work."

    Just because DirectX is good for making games does not make OpenGL "a kid's work". After all, DirectX is more akin to SDL than to OpenGL. OpenGL has clearly a different target audience - it is used to build industrial software. Is it surprising that it's different?

    "SMB - copied as Samba. Where is AppleTalk now? Apple does not know how to write an OS. They had to take BSD."

    Actually, SMB was not invented "at Microsoft". It is an intellectual child of three companies - IBM, Microsoft, and 3com. Many operating systems have later adopted this protocol. Surprising, again? We want to be able to talk to other systems so we adopt it. In Linux, you can use at least half a dozen networked file systems.

    "Improved (less chatty) SMB - Samba is behind again. Nobody in the Linux world could make a better SMB. MS had to do it."

    Why hasn't it been less chatty before? :-) Well, of course, Samba is behind, Microsoft is in charge of updating their broken protocols, the Samba team is not going to do this for them. A Linux user simply uses a less chatty (less broken?) protocol.

    "Support for TRIM command for SSD - now perhaps being added to Linux. Another me too effort. Definitely not in OSX. "

    Linux kernel and its file system modules have been ready for this since half a year ago, according to one of the leading Linux file system developers. And it is no "me too effort", not as long as it is not Microsoft that invented it a started manufacturing the devices. Are you trying to imply that for any hardware feature, there is only one OS allowed to support it without being accused of me-too-ism, and that all other systems that include support later are just copycats? Great, I've mentioned Kerberos. Good to see that MS joined the "I want it too" crowd. :-)
    Reply
  • andrihb - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    In your dreams, maybe. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, there are plenty of applications that don't run natively in any *nix (Adobe is my problem) so some version of Windows is the only option. Reply
  • coolkev99 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I don't buy an OS based on company stock price. Reply
  • C'DaleRider - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    [quote]Look at the stock price for the past five years...at least five years.[/quote]

    OK...I did....and the stock price 5 years ago was in the $24/share range, as it was 4 years ago, 3 years ago, 2 years ago, last year. In fact, it's been around $24 per share going back almost 10 years ago.....although just after the beginning of 2000 it spiked to $48 per share, but then the dot com bubble burst and every tech stock fell, MS's included. The release of XP did give a bump to roughly $34/share, but again fell back to its "base" of around $24/share.

    Sorry, but this is the first fact you are sadly misinformed on.

    Then, the investors. Don't think most are crying and desperate at all. MSFT has been paying dividends every quarter, like clockwork. Granted, since Vista's release, it's not been spectacular, but has been fairly consistent.

    Consider MSFT's 5 yr. net profit margin, 27.9%, is still well above sector and industry average. The company's low price-to-earnings ratio -- which Oakmark Fund places at less than nine, based on estimates for this year's earnings -- is closer to seven if you exclude the $4 a share in net cash.

    Nicely, the stock is also currently sporting a dividend yield of 3%. But one problem is that investors, especially individual investors, put too much focus on growth expectations and too little focus on price.

    Here's another tidbit you overlooked in your bashing.....MS had an EPS of $1.87 in '08, its highest EPS pay since '99. And MS's net profit has grown from '04-'08, every year. (FYI...net profits were, from '04-'08: $8.1B, $12.2B, $12.6B, $14B, and $17.6B).

    Granted '09 will be "dismal," it's been dismal for everyone. But MS will still show a net profit and is paying nice dividends on its stock.

    And as for everyone crying and gnashing teeth about MS, I wonder why Barron's, and every other analyist, puts Microsoft as a strong buy and NOT ONE has MS as a sell of any sort.

    And game consoles? MS never planned to turn a profit on each...it IS a loss leader, just like the PS3. The games themselves are the profit center. Always has been like that and probably will always be like that.

    So, where's the panic? Where's the problem? MS is still sitting on over $640M in cash reserves.....something a lot of companies can only wish to have.


    Reply

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