Its difficult to imagine that the future of a company like Microsoft could rest on a single product, but its been about five years since Windows XP first hit the market and thats a long time in the computing world a lot has changed since then, and XP hasnt kept up.
Microsoft Windows users, which represent about 95 per cent of the personal computer market, have been patiently awaiting Microsofts next generation platform, once code named Longhorn and now being beta tested as Vista. Vista even started out as an XP upgrade, but after a while Microsoft realized that it was actually creating a whole new platform. Vista was expected to be released in late 2005, then was pushed back to early 2006. Now the business editions are supposed to be released by the fall, in time for the Christmas shopping rush, while the home and student versions are expected for January of 2007.
Last week Microsofts CEO let it slip that the release could be delayed another few weeks to give the company more time to address issues and incorporate ideas brought up by people testing the second beta version. Microsoft has since denied the delay, but at this point despite the fact that every delay is costing Microsoft $150 million to $200 million a month in lost revenues its more important that Vista be perfect than on time.
Its all a matter of long waits and higher expectations any glitches or gaps will create a firestorm of negative publicity that Vista could probably do without. Even small problems will take on mammoth proportions because of the amount of time Microsoft has had to get it right.
It has to be secure, because hackers around the world are probably already testing the beta versions for holes.
It has to be crash-proof, because its going to be the new standard for businesses and homes and people put their computers through the paces these days editing movies, playing graphic-intense games, and using half a dozen large applications at once. Vista has to be everything for everybody, despite the fact that seven different versions will be available.
Most of all Vista has to be good value, because in the end most reviewers are going to come up with a final verdict based on price as well as the functionality and features of the operating system.
Not that all Microsoft users are suddenly going to switch to Linux or Mac if Vista doesnt live up to expectations chances are good most of the PC faithful will buy it no matter what the reviewers say. But theres a big difference between buying a product with a smile and still smiling a few months later and buying a product because you have to, to get your new software to work, and then discovering its not all you hoped for.
For details about Vista in all its different forms visit www.microsfot.com/windowsvista
Webbies winners something to see
After reporting on the Webby Awards for four consecutive years, and watching the same sites win year after year Ive given the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences website awards events a bit of a break a little time to come up with a few new sites.
The value of the Webbys is that they hand out awards from their own panel of judges, while also taking votes from the public for the Peoples Choice Award in each category. Its a great way to learn about new sites if youre getting bored of your regular surfing routine, and with five nominees in 78 categories there is something in there for everybody.
Website of the week
Like anyone who spends an inordinate amount of time with his/her face 24 inches from a computer screen, I sometimes take online breaks read the news and sports pages, or check out a few of my favourite daily comics (cant go wrong with Monty at www.comics.com. Most of all Im always looking for a laugh, which is why I visit The Onion www.theonion/ and The Ironic Times www.ironictimes every week. Through the Webby Awards Ive been turned on to another off-beat humour site called McSweeneys Internet Tendency at www.mcsweeneys.net. Humour is subjective, but I find the writing hilarious. Ross Murrays The 4-Year-Old Enters Anger Management alone is worth a visit, while Teddy Waynes Why There Arent Many Right-Wing Observational Comedians hits every nail on the head.