By: Roger Whitehead, Associate Analyst - Collaboration, Bloor Research (Moved)
Published: 5th December 2006
Copyright Bloor Research © 2006
That seemed to be the message at the London launch of Microsoft Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 on 30 November 2006. Gordon Frazer, Microsoft’s UK managing director, devoted most his opening speech to a gallimaufry of statistics and quotations intended to show that buying these new offerings would somehow make Britain more competitive.
Nowhere (of course) was there any suggestion that making better use of organisations’ existing computer investments might be just as effective in improving their efficiency. Nor (ditto) was there any acknowledgement that the wholesale adoption of these new products would lead inevitably to a productivity decline for a period, as it would with any large software installation.
In the dream world proposed by Microsoft, users don’t have to spend working time and ingenuity getting used to new software; systems departments don’t need to drive themselves to distraction ironing out the wrinkles in the new systems; and trading partners don’t have to run around in ever-decreasing circles trying to get their systems to work with them. These are petty details.
Later, there was even the suggestion from one of Frazer’s colleagues that there was a link between introducing Windows 95 and a rise in the increase in UK productivity in 1995 (“nearly doubling” from 1.9% to 2.9%, i.e. increasing by just over half). I was expecting him to finish by saying, “Coincidence? I think not.” Anyone who struggled with Win95 at the time will understand how ludicrous a claim this is. Any rise will have been despite the introduction of Win95.
Samuel Johnson’s dictum—“patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”—came to mind while I sat through this bombardment of dodgy stats and implausible insinuations. I doubt that Gordon Frazer is a scoundrel, or any of his colleagues there that day, but I did think they were desperate.
There were many references to this being the biggest launch in Microsoft’s recent history and I think the clue lies there. The marketing difficulty Microsoft has is simple: Why should people care? So what if you’ve made a bet-your-company decision? So what if thousands of programmers have spent millions of hours producing unimaginable amounts of code? So what if this has been the most extensive beta testing programme since Neanderthal man emerged? These things matter to you, Mr (or Ms) Microsoft, but all we users care about it is whether the software is of value to us.
This question was not adequately dealt with during the afternoon. Microsoft had gathered some corporate users there (and I know how hard that can be) but we didn’t hear enough from them. There was a short panel session with three of them, from CapGemini, QinetiQ and Newham Borough Council, and video testimony from a couple more. What they had to say was interesting but there was no time for a sensibly paced presentation of their evidence or for any examination of it. And you can’t cross-question a video.
Oh, and there were also some glimpses of the products involved, delivered in high-speed demonstrations and viewable in blurred form on too few and too small screens. What was the point of that, I wondered? Admittedly, we were granted a whole 15 minutes afterwards (gosh!) for a closer look at all the products but I forewent the opportunity. Another day.
Given that the afternoon was labelled “the launch for business”, I was hoping for more about business and what this new software could do for it. Perhaps this trio of products will have a dramatically beneficial effect on the productivity of the organizations that use it. If so, Microsoft failed to offer convincing evidence of it. I also remain sceptical that any piece of software can have a measurable effect on the performance of the UK economy.
Posted: 5th December 2006 | By Just Say No :
Just say NO
Posted: 5th December 2006 | By Scott :
Well, at least we know that the extra 70% we're asked to pay isn't going to go overseas! See: www.pcpro.co.uk/news/98967/
Posted: 5th December 2006 | By anonymous :
I would rather download Linux ;-)
Posted: 5th December 2006 | By euthyfro :
i just switched from MS windows XP to Ubuntu linux & not only is this an improvement in my computing needs, i also feel better about myself, don't catch colds as easily and have lost 5 pounds.
Posted: 5th December 2006 | By SyN :
How talk about hate Do you own shares in Apple or something?
Posted: 6th December 2006 | By tek :
^^ Already did quite a few years ago ;)
Posted: 6th December 2006 | By Chamelion :
Just say Linux.
The city of Munich in Germany has.
I would not buy a car that is faulty regardless how good it might look.
Vista and the new office is overblown, very unsafe and when it comes to value a rip off. Most people will have to update their computer just to run it and to accommodate the never ending security patches.
Posted: 6th December 2006 | By James :
In a profession where change is a goven and innovation is saught, it amazes me to see these thing crop up everytime MS releases a product. Linux - who wants a clone of a 35 year old operating system ? Freaking stupid !! News Flash !! - software CHANGES because computers get faster and cheaper, innovation in software design and programming goes on DAILY, and the World continually comes up with new requirements! It ain't your fathers mainframe or RISC box anymore folks!
Posted: 6th December 2006 | By Roger Whitehead (Author):
It's interesting, but rather sad, that some people are responding here as though I had attacked Microsoft's products in this piece. I expressed no opinion either way about what was launched at the event. This was a critique of the presentations and a comment on Microsoft's marketing stance, nothing more. Indeed, one of my points was there was too little time to form an opinion of the new software. The only product I said anything about was Win95, which is -- let's see now -- somewhere around 11 years old. Hardly applicable to the current situation, is it?
Posted: 6th December 2006 | By JJ :
My sentiments exactly. We should be encouraging constructive feedback and not petty flames.
Posted: 7th December 2006 | By Business patriot :
this reads like a comment on a local play...
evaluating what is directly in front of you.
This kind of style may not be apt for what is being presented.
The point is that the proof is in the pudding.
If we look back over the last 10 years and the changes Microsoft has brought about, it is something to take serious note of. And judging by the past, the future is going to be very interesting indeed..
So it is indeed a pity when Microsoft presents a vision in such a way that the future potential is lost on people like Mr. Whitehead, especially when you can use Microsoft to unlock huge business value.
Something to take note of Mr. Microsoft.
Posted: 23rd February 2007 | By Lisa Stiller :
Doesn't your affinity with Microsoft undermine your independence as a Bloor analyst. I would change that title!!!!
Posted: 23rd February 2007 | By Roger Whitehead (Author):
I surprised you think my article suggests an affinity with Microsoft beyond the usual that any analyst has with any supplier. We don't work that way.
I'm equally surprised you should feel that what I wrote was in any way complimentary to Microsoft. They certainly didn't.
As for the title, it's ironic.
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