As Microsoft executives stood on a Sydney stage to launch Vista and promising business "efficiency at the desktop", my taxi inched down Melbourne's Russell Street, snared by thousands heading to the MCG demanding workers' rights not efficiency, and protesting against WorkChoice. Ironic. Microsoft and I had something in common. We were both late - 15 minutes in my case, two years in theirs. You know my excuse.
Vista finally arrived in Microsoft style - two years late, less than its original specification and endorsed by nervous customers, gun-shy and dodging questions. The sceptical journos like those with no Vista vision. One is the NSW Department of Education and Training; a mighty user of Dell and Windows but not an institution to inspire my tech strategy. (Though the CIO is a good guy).
The question of who will buy Vista is not relevant. What is best for you and your organization is the issue. Microsoft's biggest sell-job is to convince you that swapping over is worth the hassle. If you sit in the camp where XP and Windows 2000 get the job done . . . then, so what? Conversely, if your colleagues metaphorically scramble around with screwdrivers and diskettes, patching holes in previous Microsoft genius, then you might want the Vista story. If it is the last thing you want to hear, then think again.
Vista spin will have various versions. Having read the white papers, watched some Yank actor called Tom do multimedia demos, and talked to a few people, it seems some elements of Vista are worth knowing but getting powerful insight into its value is difficult.
Firstly, it takes enterprises a couple of years to jump on a train like Vista. Flicking the switch from XP or Windows 2000 is not easy. If Vista is adopted in big numbers - and this validates something for you or your C-Level peers - then do not expect to be overwhelmed by evidence until 2009. Microsoft says it will have 200 million on the drip within 12 months. We'll see. The marketing budget will eclipse the $US500 million spent on XP. Nice to be that rich, I suppose.
More interestingly will be what Microsoft says, and then compare it to what it has achieved. Gates has stuck the biggest, reddest, juiciest bulls-eye on his head. Vista, apparently, is the most secure software the company has produced. And by claiming this, he has unleashed millions of socially-dysfunctional, iPod-wearing Beastie Boys fans to hack, go phishing, ride Trojan horses or whatever to unmask Vista as the same old Swiss cheese.
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