I was at an event last week where Gareth Hall, UK Product Manager for Windows Server 2008, commented on the product’s fantastic press reviews, with even Jon Honeyball (who it seems is well known for his less-than-complimentary response to Microsoft’s output of late) commenting that:
“Server 2008 excels in just about every area [... and] is certainly ready for prime time. There’s no need to wait for Service Pack 1″
It seems that, wherever you look, Windows Server 2008 is almost universally acclaimed. And rightly so – I believe that it is a fantastic operating system release (let’s face it, Windows Server 2003 and R2 were very good too) and is packed full of features that have the potential to add significant value to solutions.
So, tell me, why are the same journalists who think Windows Server 2008 is great, still berating Windows Vista – the client version of the same operating system codebase? Sure, Vista is for a different market, Vista has different features, and it’s only fair to say that Vista took some time to bed down, but after more than a year of continuous updates and a major service pack is it really that bad?
This week, IT Week is running a leader on the “migration muddle” that organisations face. Should IT Manager’s skip Vista and go straight to Windows 7, with Bill Gates allegedly saying that “sometime in the next year we will have a new version [of Windows]“?
The short answer is “No!”. My advice is either to move to Vista now and save the pain of trying to jump two or three releases to Windows 7 later, or accept a more pragmatic approach of managed diversity.
The trouble is that Microsoft has muddied the water by dropping hints about what the future may hold. What was once arguably the world’s biggest and best marketing machine seems to have lost its way recently – either maintain the silence and keep us guessing what Windows 7 means, or open up and let us decide whether it’s worth the wait. With the current situation, IT Managers are confused: the press are, by and large, critical of Vista; consumers and early adopters have complained of poor device support (not Microsoft’s fault); and even Microsoft seems ready to forget about pushing their current client operating system and move on to the next big thing.
In all my roles – as a consultant, an infrastructure architect, a Microsoft partner and of course as a blogger, I’d love to know more about Windows 7 – and Microsoft does need to be more transparent if it expects customers to make a decision. Instead, they seem to be hoping that hints of something new that’s not Vista will help to sell Enterprise Agreements (complete with Software Assurance) to corporates.