Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Does Microsoft 'Owe' Us Anything About SP1?

Matt Freestone brings up an excellent point about all the crap going on about SP1. I've been having just such a discussion with various people over the past few days who bring up a similar point, so I thought I'd counter it here.

A lot of people misinterpret my anger over the situation as being an ego thing, like "Dammit, Microsoft owes it to *me* to tell me what the hell is going on, because I am important." That is entirely not the case, and maybe I haven't been clear about it up to this point. I know SP1 is going to be great, based on the fixes that have been put out to this point. I don't have a "deployment schedule" for updates, I just install them the second I get them and watch what happens. And it's not about me generating a crapload of content for this site so I can make more money, because my ad revenues barely cover the server bills, so it's not about money for me.

The reason I have a problem with the situation is because all of the Intel's of the world are hindering public opinion about Vista by saying that it won't be deployable until SP1, and I genuinely care what people think about Microsoft. Smaller companies listen to those kind of opinions, and say "well hell, if a multi-billion dollar company is going to wait till SP1 to deploy, why would I do it before then?" So they wait. And wait. And wait.

It's not just bloggers that want to know. There are lots of customers out there that want to know what's going on with SP1. And evading the question with statistics and saying that "we think people are happy with Windows Vista" is incredibly stupid. The only statistic that anyone cares about is units sold, and there is a vocal minority out there who is not at all happy with Vista. There appears to be a difference between Microsoft's perception and reality.

So, the "entitlement" is not about "tell me everything there is to know about SP1 RIGHT NOW OR ELSE!!!!" It's about a desire for Microsoft to be crystal clear and concise about their statements (whatever they are, without spin), and to start providing customers who want to know what's going on with a gradually-building stream of general guidance. The original press release on Windows 7 was too terse, and last week's statement was too vague. There is a happy medium in there somewhere, I know it.

Along with that, part of the reason is because the last time we had anything concrete was when Bob Muglia said that SP1 was shipping at the same time as Windows Server 2008. That was in November, folks. Windows Server 2008 is RTMing in November/December of this year, and if the statement about a simultaneous SP1 release is still correct, then it's due out in 4-5 months. We had 3 years to test Vista, so naturally, we're expecting to have some time to beat this release up. And on top of that, 4-5 months is not a lot of time to plan a medium-to-large sized corporate rollout.

But the main reason why I've been so upset is because I've been wanting to battle the misinformation going around the web about SP1, but Microsoft doesn't want to arm me with any facts. So I don't care if one of the most widely-read blogs tells people that it's coming out in 2009, because Microsoft apparently doesn't care what bloggers are saying. They're not actively trying to reach out to us, instead they're trying to "contain" us because some bloggers like to leak information. The very least they could do is explain what their communications strategy is, instead of just completely stonewalling us.

In short, the expectation comes from the fact that Microsoft used to be extremely responsive to customer requests, and we got used to it. Now customers are demanding answers, and Microsoft has stuck it's fingers in its ears. If they expected that strategy wasn't going to have a blowback, then they're not as smart as I thought.

So in the end, what does this all mean? Well, it means that I'm not going to throw myself under the bus if Microsoft's (demonstratably) not interested in the market having a clear understanding of the roadmap. The Windows Client division is going to do what it wants, the opinion of others be damned. And they're welcome to think that the Steve Jobs Reveal will work for them. IMO they're wrong, but what do I know, I'm just a blogger and I only care about myself.

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