Windows Vista? All Hail XP

By Paul Chin

Originally published in Intranet Journal's Chin Music (21-May-2007)

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I've never been one to follow the waves of mania that occasionally sweep through the IT community when some unstoppable goliath threatens to leave a path of destruction in its wake, but I can't seem to get away from this one. Godzilla is bearing down on Tokyo, and I'm trying to get away on a tricycle with a rusty chain.

Having encountered average consumers and experienced IT professionals alike telling nightmarish tales of losing entire days to this Vista upgrade vortex, I didn't feel the need to add to the hysteria. I already made my views on Windows Vista quite clear in February and had no plans to harp on the matter. My philosophy has always been to make your point and move on. Unfortunately, my days and nights are dogged by the same question from friends, colleagues, and clients: How do I go back to Windows XP?

Then it hit me. Is Windows Vista actually a complex and elaborate stealth marketing ploy—a form of guerilla marketing where the target audience isn't aware it's being marketed to—for a "next generation" Windows XP? Is this a shadowy scheme by the Microsoft intelligentsia to extend XP's life cycle by another decade? They could be amassing their forces as I write this, using Vista as a diversion to fund their real intentions. Maybe they're going to surprise the world with the real Longhorn and introduce the new and improved "Windows XP Millennium Edition" next year.

Think about it... When XP was at the top of the Windows food chain everyone loved to gripe about all its shortcomings. After Vista was finally released, stripped of its "beta" tag for the first time, something strange happened: People started praising Windows XP. In fact, I've never heard so many good things about XP before. Could this be Microsoft's way of telling the world, "You want to cry? I'll give you something to cry about!" After all, no one is going to complain that their soup is cold with the knowledge that the replacement will contain a giant stag beetle doing the butterfly. It's a stroke of insane brilliance.

What little positive attention I've seen toward Vista has sounded more like consolation than praise. Rather than a flood of loud and glowing testimonials, comments such as "it's not so bad" and "it could be worse" trickle out like droplets of water from a leaky faucet. High praise indeed.

I mean, really, how can this be anything but a calculated maneuver? Do you believe that a large company like Microsoft—with all its money and all its talented resources; and after all the years of Vista research, development, and testing—would release a product that's garnering such negative reaction and criticism? And then to further confuse consumers, why not go ahead and release six versions of it? What happened to the "keep it simple" principle? It's ludicrous! I have enough trouble picking from the myriad of sunscreen products at the pharmacy.

I've never been a conspiracy theorist, but everything I've seen and experienced since Vista's release tells me we should put this in the "who shot JFK" file. What's Microsoft really up to? Is this actually some sort of marketing sleight of hand? I truly hope it is because I fear for the future of the software industry if it isn't. But alas, deep down, I think I'm giving Microsoft too much credit here. Perhaps this isn't an elaborate scheme after all. Perhaps Vista truly is where the future of Windows is heading. Perhaps this is the second coming of "New Coke"—and we all remember what happened to that, right?

Copyright © 2007 Paul Chin. All rights reserved.
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