Vista has probably been one of Microsoft’s most problematic OS releases it has ever experienced. With high hopes from day one and an openness that was heralded by the like of Robert Scoble when he was their main blogging front man Microsoft laid bare the roadmap to Vista.
Such was the openness that the Wow campaign; which was meant to send us all running to the nearest Best Buy to get our copies, pretty well fell flat on its marketing face. There was no coolness, no Rolling Stones theme song, no revelations found through individual playing with the new OS.
Some said this was the new Microsoft – a Microsoft open to its consumers. At the same time this also set up Microsoft for that inevitable fall when reality didn’t meet the heralded projections of wishful mockups.
On the other side of the fence we have Apple who is well known for its lawyer enforced secrecy where nobody knows anything and gawd help you if you leak anything. Almost sounds like pre-blogging Microsoft doesn’t it; but where people condemned Microsoft for this practice people in turn think it cool when Apple does it.
It has been the constant rant against Microsoft that it is a monolithic corporation who would step on anyone to get ahead; but when Apple does the same thing it’s cool. Microsoft gets dollar signs in it’s name so the l337 can feel they are cool in their against the man puffery but Apple gets drooled over because it’s cool as it slams take down notices down website owners throats.
As Matt Freestone at Windows Connected points out:
First, does Apple pre-release information about upcoming products or OS releases/features? Absolutely not. In fact, Apple is notorious for being highly secretive, to the point of leaking false information (even internally) firing people for even breathing a product name, suing blogger’s who dare mention something they’ve heard, etc. (The iPhone is a perfect example.) And yet, with Apple, and the iPhone specifically, did you hear outrage at Apple’s secrecy? No, everyone thought it to be ‘cool’, and it helped hype the product beyond appropriate levels.
In his post he comes to the defense of Microsoft over it’s air of secrecy for Vista SP1 and the upcoming Windows 7 which is an attitude I am coming to agree with him on.
Openness has its place but both from a development and marketing point of view I am beginning to question the whole idea. Not to mention that it bothers me that while it is cool for Apple to live behind a wall of lawyers, proprietary software and hardware exclusivity the case is the exact opposite with Microsoft as it is proclaimed as the big evil beast.
Do you think Steve Jobs and Apple would not do anything that Bill Gates and Microsoft has done if the tables where turned – not a chance. So you can all get on your high horses about the need for openness but the fact is that the only thing this openness is doing is puffing up a bunch of bloggers ego’s. For the rest of us who like to be surprised; like to not always know what is in the box, it’s like being told Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
So if Microsoft wants to return to keeping its operating system development under wraps, to keep the service pack details in a lead lined box I don’t have a problem with it.