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"Shame on You, Microsoft"

Via EmBlog, Paul Thurrott (of Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows) reviews the latest build of Windows Vista, and in the process, one of Microsoft's most durable fans has a change of heart:

Windows Vista... has been an utter disaster. And it's not even out yet. What the heck went wrong? ...

Microsoft has made some mind-numbing mistakes... The company itself has turned into that thing it most hated (read: IBM), an endlessly complex hierarchy of semi-autonomous middle managers and vice presidents of various levels and titles, many of whom can't seem to make even the smallest of decisions. The company is too big and too slow to ship updates to its biggest products. It's collapsing under its own weight...

When Bill Gates revealed in mid-2003 that he was returning to his roots, so to speak, and spending half of his time on what was then still called Longhorn, we should have seen the warning signs. Sadly, Gates, too, is part of the Bad Microsoft, a vestige of the past who should have had the class to either formally step down from the company or at least play just an honorary role, not step up his involvement and get his hands dirty with the next Windows version. If blame is to be assessed, we must start with Gates. He has guided -- or, through lack of leadership -- failed to guide the development of Microsoft's most prized asset. He has driven it into the ground...

Shame on you, Microsoft. Shame on you, but not just for not doing better. We expect you to copy Apple, just as Apple (and Linux) in its turn copies you. But we do not and should not expect to be promised the world, only to be given a warmed over copy of Mac OS X Tiger in return. Windows Vista is a disappointment. There is no way to sugarcoat that very real truth.

This is like David Pogue of The New York Times being so disappointed in the next version of Mac OS X that he calls for Steve Jobs' resignation. It's almost unthinkable. And yet here it is.

Near the beginning of the review, Thurott says of Microsoft:

The company is literally filled to the brim with some of the brightest, smartest, most insightful, and friendliest people I've ever met.
It's true. I've never met someone from Microsoft and said to myself, "They just don't get it." People there are bright and smart and insightful (and often, though not always, friendly). But in the Windows division, they're weighed down by the magnitude of the task they face (as I wrote recently), as well as, according to Thurott, some people who really need to go:
[T]he Windows Division retains, as employees of the software giant have told me, the last vestiges of the bad, old Microsoft. This is the Microsoft that ran roughshod over competitors in order to gain market share at any cost. The Microsoft that forgot about customers in its blind zeal to harm competitors. The Microsoft, that frankly, all the Linux and Apple fanatics always imagined was out there, plotting and planning their termination.
So Windows Vista is going to be a failure. It will end up being two years late and missing large chunks of promised functionality. Here's the question for Microsoft: whose heads will roll for this? Because heads need to roll. If they don't, the next version of Windows will be a failture, too, and Windows will become less and less interesting -- and I want Windows to be interesting for all the same reasons I want Mac OS X to be interesting. Microsoft pushes Apple. Apple pushes Microsoft. Everyone wins.

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