Michael Gartenberg, VP & Research Director, JupiterResearch: According to an old industry joke, IBM was once so poor at marketing that if it had invented sushi, it would have called it "cold, dead, raw fish." This occurs to me because I've been thinking of Microsoft's Vista as the sushi of operating systems.
I'll explain what I mean by that, but first I have to wonder whether that old line isn't more applicable these days to Microsoft. The company has done a lackluster job of getting PC users fired up about its latest operating system, now a year old. It's that birthday that has me musing about all this. And how is the one-year-old faring? Well, it's really been getting slapped around lately. One online technology site called it one of the "top 10 terrible products" of all time. A trade magazine was a bit kinder, only calling it one of the "15 biggest tech disappointments of 2007." Still, as Steve Ballmer pointed out at CES, more than 100 million Vista licenses ave been sold.
So, why is Vista like sushi? No, I don't equate it with cold, dead, raw fish. But I'm not someone who craves sushi. I'll eat it if it's well prepared, fresh and the only thing around. My overall attitude: It's not bad.
It's the same with Vista. If it's on a machine that has proper driver support, isn't loaded with junk applications and has a fast enough processor and graphics card, Vista's not bad. I'd choose something else if I could, and I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to use it.
This is the core of Microsoft's problem. Few consumers are buying PCs just so they can run Vista. Why should they? Operating systems are inherently boring, and Microsoft has failed to articulate sufficient reasons to make the switch.
The following should give you an idea of how badly Microsoft is doing at selling the benefits of Vista. I recently asked several Microsoft executives for three reasons why a consumer should move to the operating system. The first answer was always security. The second, if there was one, was something about the Vista experience. No one had a third reason. I finally asked another executive for just 10 words extolling Vista's benefits. Couldn't do five.
Microsoft, Windows Vista, Licenses, Licensing