Vista Sales Are Quiet. Will Steve Ballmer Help Matters?

In grade school, while I wasn’t really a geek or a nerd — not that I’m aware of anyway — I was that one kid who always wanted to find out what they were up to. The kid who was pretty much got along with everyone, and would make occasional heroic attempts to stand up for the picked-on crowd. I’ve never liked bullies. Still don’t. I’ve been that way all my life, and consider it one of my better qualities. That’s probably why I like Bill Gates as much as I do. He knows he’s a nerd, and doesn’t shy away from it. He’s cool with being Bill Gates, and I believe he would be even without the billions (that he’s having a blast giving away, btw!). Steve Ballmer is another matter.

While I don’t know the man personally, I have a lot of difficulty dealing with the Steve Ballmer he allows me to see. He does strike as a bit of a bully. There’s no question the man is smart. He’s helped Microsoft become what it is. Nevertheless, every now and again it seems he can’t help taking the opportunity to let us know just how human he can be. Here is a fine example.

I don’t know what’s going on in that shiny head of his — btw, I have a bald head, so please try not to be too offended — but something’s not right. It’s lines like this that make me wonder if “Houston has a problem”:

“We have new technologies built into Windows Vista, something we call Windows Genuine Advantage [that] we’ve really dialed up in capabilities with the Vista release…” “…I do think that will bring some revenue growth. We will have strong growth in the Windows business in emerging markets: China, India, Brazil, Russia and many others. Those markets are very high piracy.”

Aaaah. Okay. I see. Piracy. Let me get this straight. Microsoft is going to help fight piracy through Vista. Hmm. That doesn’t sound too bad on the surface. But how’s that going to impact consumers who simply want to continue using their PCs like they’re used to? The folks over at Security Now did a fine job of answering this question for me. I recommend you have listen to their podcast or read the transcript from the show when they had Peter Gutmann as a guest. Peter Gutmann is the fellow who’s stirred the hornet’s nest, so to speak, with his Cost Analysis of Windows Vista. And he’s not some disgruntled ex-Microsoft employee or such with an ax to grind. He’s one of those fellows who modestly shies away from his accomplishments, but when you examine what he’s done you simply don’t want to waste time arguing with him because you know you should really be paying to listen to what he has to say. I’m guessing he’s not Microsoft’s favorite guy at the moment. In any case, it’s good to have a listen to this before grandma calls you up and asks you why she can’t do such-and-such like she used to.

Anywho, if Microsoft is going to start tightening there operating system up so much that users and open source folks can’t use it as freely as they’d like, write apps for it, or come up with a driver that really works for their old printer they want to keep a bit longer, I wonder what the argument will be for folks who tend to accuse Apple of being too “proprietary”? Will it be a case of the proverbial shoe being on the other foot? And more importantly, why should anyone buy it?!? This adds to my reasons for delaying purchasing Vista. I don’t see the organization I’m working for going to it any time soon, so I may as well keep my job-related focus on XP.

When I think about it, I think someone should see if the folks at Apple have come up with some sort of mind-control device they may be using on the Microsoft folks. I can’t believe Mr. Gates would willingly want to go down this road. Nah. He’s smarter than this. Mr. Ballmer on the other hand? Well, he ended the interview I mentioned earlier with this little ditty:

“In other comments during the hour-long call, he repeated the promise that Microsoft would not again make the mistake of taking half a decade developing the next Windows. ‘We won’t go five years again, I promise, between big Windows releases,’ he said.”

All of you out there who are familiar with Microsoft’s history of releasing their operating systems on time know how brave or foolish (take your pick) such a promise is.

And just think, Vista has only recently been released. For those of you in the “Yeah, but it’s ALWAYS like this!” camp I’ll simply ask “Is it?” And if it is, is it possible something’s wrong with this process? Take the time to think it through now.



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