Way down deep it's the same old you
Way down deep you ain't hiding the truth
Just for a minute you had me confused
Baby way down deep it's the same old you
~Tom Petty, Same Old You.
My colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols in his aptly titled Cyber Cynic column on Computer World is always good for a reality check for all things technology, especially Microsoft. This week Vaughan-Nichols takes a look under the hood of the highly-vaunted Windows 7, and he finds nothing more than warmed over Vista stew, the same OS we didn't like much the first time Microsoft served it.
Seems Randall Kennedy over at InfoWorld put the new version of Windows through its paces and found, surprise, surprise, that it's no different than the old Windows. I've never hidden my disdain for Vista (as I wrote in How Much Does Vista Suck, Let Me Count the Ways) and ever since people have been gushing about Windows 7 at the recent Professional Development Conference, I have warned that controlled presentations do not mean diddly. As usual, Vaughan-Nichols has found me proof.
Microsoft's Marketing Machine Goes To Work
For all its problems, and Microsoft is facing many on a number of fronts these days, it still remains a formidable company with huge cash reserves. This means they can dazzle us with presentations and fancy conferences. They can trot out the company's stars to mix and mingle with the technology industry and press glitterai. They can show off new technology in the comfort of their own playground surrounded by big screens and fancy presentations. But you can't judge any product from any company based on what they tell you at a marketing convention with the hype machine in high gear. You can only trust what you see in your own lab under your unique conditions. That's why Kennedy's research is so important.
As I wrote recently in my post Microsoft Tries Desperately to Turn the Corner on Vista at PDC, you have to look at all of this with a healthy dose of skepticism:
It all sounds lovely and some of this technology, especially exposing some key software such as Exchange and Sharepoint as services could potentially be very interesting, but today we don't have much more than some controlled demos and early prototypes. All of this technology has a long way to go before it's market ready.
You Believe What You Want to Believe, Baby
Of course, Kennedy's experiment is just one look at Windows 7, although one that appears to be quite comprehensive and fair, but we are very early in the game. It's possible that Microsoft will improve it along the way. Yet Microsoft has had no problem stoking the hype machine having us believe that it will be different this time, that Windows 7 is better and faster than Vista. Kennedy's work shows us that it's not.
It also provides further proof, if you needed it, that where Microsoft is concerned, keep your eyes wide open, be critical and be skeptical until you have a product in hand that you can test on your own machine under your own conditions. You would be foolish to do anything less.