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Don Reisinger is a TWiT!

October 1, 2007

Vista busy cursor Don Reisinger is the freelance technology writer who caused a stir last week by suggesting, on his CNet blog, that Microsoft should abandon Vista to save themselves.

I mentioned his article in my recent post: The Vista backlash gathers momentum.

Don’s withering attack on Vista makes some of mine seem positively restrained. He has certainly attracted the attention of the great and the good, and also Leo Laporte. Specifically, Don was rewarded with elevation to TWiT status, appearing on Episode 115 of This Week in Tech over the weekend.

It turns out that Don is a Mac user who used Vista for two weeks at the end of which he was so shocked by its failings that he came to the conclusion that Microsoft was doomed, unless it cried “Hasta la vista, Vista!”

Now I feel oddly uncomfortable finding myself almost leaping to Vista’s defence, but having read Reisinger’s article again I am less than overwhelmed by his objectivity and extensive research. When I slam Vista I do it because it deserves it absolutely, and based on an objective appraisal of its performance in a particular set of circumstances.

Don, on the other hand, is indulging in unashamed sensationalism to get cheap web traffic and for self-promotion via invites onto tech podcasts.

Don doesn’t really address what’s wrong with Vista. He just cites disappointing sales figures and the fact that buyers of the ultra-expensive Ultimate edition of Vista have been short-changed by Microsoft. Well the disappointing sales figures are some evidence of the disquiet I predicted in June, with the likes of Dell forced to allow buyers of new PCs to opt for XP and Microsoft obliged to postpone XP’s official demise as a supported OS. But this observation does not shed any great light on the underlying market issues. And there weren’t enough Windows fanboys dumb enough to shell out for the ludicrous Ultimate version for that particular debacle to have much impact on Microsoft’s fortunes.

He also makes too much of the DRM issue. It may raise ethical issues, or questions about Microsoft’s motives in pandering to the studios, but it makes very little difference to the millions of buyers of new Vista PCs, the vast majority of whom are probably blissfully unaware of Vista’s DRM-riddled interior. And whereas it is true that on the same PC Vista runs slower than XP, it is not clear cut that DRM is to blame.

There is a wider question of why Vista succeeds in being quite so bloated and resource hungry compared to XP when it offers so little more in terms of features. I do really wonder how much longer Microsoft can go on bolting bits onto an ageing kernel before the whole house of cards collapses in an ugly heap, but that’s more of an issue for Vista’s replacements in future years.

Meantime it is patent nonsense to suggest Microsoft must walk away from Vista to save themselves. There is damage being done to Microsoft, and Redmond’s monopoly of the OS market is starting to loosen irreversibly, but we are talking about a long slow process. Sorry Don but we are not all going to go Mac overnight just because you had a bad fortnight with Vista. By the time Windows becomes just one OS of many on the market, there might well be a stronger contender than Apple around.

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