See Windows Vista: nice try, but failed

Microsoft got a special website up dedicated to showing off Windows Vista. The site is… interesting.

In it, you are greeted by a full-screen Flash animation, in shades of blue and green. While floating screens hover in the center, an actor (I’ve been told it’s Tom Skerritt, but I’m not even sure who that is) tries to convey enthousiasm through a very slow-paced and flat monologue. He fails. Instead, he pauses at awkward moments and sounds awfully bored, as other people have noted.

Anyway, all these small floating screens in the center should be where the real fun is, right? While moving around they show glimpses of (I’m sure) kick-ass demonstrations of Vista’s abilities. Let’s click on one… Huh. Nothing happens. Oooh, wait, you’re not supposed to click on these! You’re supposed to click on one of the big dull grey text buttons on the side… Either this site designers are still stuck in the 90s, and have no grasp of how interactive the web has become nowadays, or they are trying to appeal to dumb people that are easily confused.

Anyway, let’s click on one button. The guy blurs so the new video can start in a smooth way. Again, this is straight from the old CD-ROM PC games, the first ones to feature full-screen video. The actor resumes his sleep-inducing speech – I mean, you have to hear it to believe it, are they targetting retirement homes? – and you are once again asked to choose a button. The real fun begins now.

Well, they certainly understood that 3D looks good: the first presentation shows you videos and other applications mapped on 3D windows that zoom and swirl around the screen. Nice, I guess, but useful? Not sure. “See and buy your jacket in 3D”, says the guy. Mmh, I’m not sure this is going to change my life. (It’s all the more fun that this advertisement-based product, and the next one about Mercedes, are both featured under “Connecting with People”, while I was expecting video conferencing and social networking, but hey).
The rest of the demos come from the same place. This whole thing is obviously aimed at CEOs and powerful people in suits, not at us poor customers, as why should we care that EADS or Thomson are gonna use Windows Vista? It can’t be just a big mistake, can it? Oh.

Minor rant: I’m really disappointed to what Windows Vista has become. When the first previews were out, it looked really promising and interesting: A massively rewritten filesystem with lots of innovative ideas, new ways to explore your files with prominent “smart” folders, easy access to media everywhere…
As time went by, all these new features were dropped one by one or downsized, to keep only small improvements to the original Windows XP, which are basically ripoffs of Mac OS X (search folders and taskbar thumbnailing come to mind). At the same time, crazy paranoid “security” features (really a lame-ass excuse for Microsoft to cop out on liability) were added that require you to go through 7 steps to delete a shortcut. We’re supposed to get excited over a warmed-again Windows XP? FIVE frickin’ years after XP?

To me and others, it looks like Microsoft has become victim of visionless management. It’s too bad. It’s not that I like Windows, but at least (even forgetting that innovation is always beneficial in the end) it would have provided incentive to other companies to make better products. In this sad state, it won’t.

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