I’ve been reading a lot lately about why people think Windows Vista has been delayed so many times. There tends to be a set of consistent theories that always appear in a discussion, which I’ll summarize here:
- The software is too complex, with too many interdependencies that are confusing or not understood very well.
- There is too much bureaucracy and too many levels of management which slows down the development process.
- Microsoft started sharing information about Vista far too early which led to unreasonable expectations for the end product.
I think there is definitely some truth to all of these different theories, but I have another one. I think another significant reason Windows Vista has been “delayed” is the media. With all of the media coverage everytime there’s a change in the Vista release schedule, one can’t help but think that something must be horribly wrong for the operating system to have been delayed. I mean it makes CNN for crying out loud! Consider the following two things:
- The average user still doesn’t really have a clue what Windows Vista is. They are pretty happy using whatever operating system they are currently using. I see this all the time when I help people with their computers and start talking up a feature of Vista. (And no, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need a new version, for the same reason that Ford still manufactures a new version of the F-150 every year.)
- Despite all of the fanboys, the other operating systems haven’t done anything particularly special since Windows XP was released. The various Linux distros are still emulating Windows. Mac OS X has some excellent eye candy, but doesn’t stand out in any other way. Of course those last two statements are just my personal opinion, but proof is in the numbers – neither Linux nor Mac OS X have taken market share away from Windows (at least in the consumer space). People are not breaking down the doors of Best Buy to purchase a Mac.
Which means what? Basically, I would argue that if the media didn’t report on every single schedule change, most people could care less if Windows Vista was released in 2006 or 2008. With no pressure from rival operating systems, and the only loud customer request being security (which was the reason XP SP2 was such a big deal) there really isn’t a huge reason for Vista to be delivered right away, and thus no reason for anyone to be up in arms about it being delayed.
Keep in mind that this theory about the media being a reason that Vista has been delayed is largely focused on the consumer/business side of things. Developers, hardware manufacturers, and of course Microsoft’s shareholders all have good reasons for wanting the OS to come faster. I think I have a valid point though.