Welcome to the last few relatively quiet days of the year, at least for the tech sector.
In an article seeded by Linsys: We Don't Need Windows Vista After All, an author at thetek.net provides an interesting insight into some of the challenges faced by Microsoft in selling a new version of their flagship product to the modern computer market.
The funny thing is, there were a lot of people online (before the concept of the blogosphere exisited) who said the same things about Windows XP when it was released.
Almost every release of Windows has faced its biggest competition from the previous major OS release that Microsoft had put out. All the way back to Windows 3.0 and 3.1, which did not face face half as much competition from other GUI based platforms of its day, as it did just convincing all the computer users still running progams on MS-DOS that there were compelling reasons to upgrade. (One of the bonuses of buying a computer with Windows 3.1 was that it included a cheap way to upgrade to DOS 5.0 at the same time).
And with every past version of their Windows, there is some feature or features that initially flies under the radar of all the hype surrounding the product launch, but somehow gets picked up as a common meme within a few months of that event. Windows Vista appears to be filled with such features. At the face of it, there appear to be few items that one can point to and say "that alone is a must have feature", but the accumulation of "want to have" features along with a couple of must haves hidden below the surface may be enough to build momentum for the OS after the splashy launch period.
The thing is, a lot of momentum will already be built up before the big Vista launch party in New York.
Right now, Microsoft finds themselves in a unique position to almost spoil their own end of month party.
The real "need" for Windows Vista may start to show in the pent up demand for new hardware coming in the next year or two. People usually complain that when a new version of Windows comes out, they are left waiting for the hardware to catch up to it. But, for once, Vista may be releasing when it is in a position to catch up with the hardware instead. The ongoing competition between industry heavyweights such as Intel, AMD, Nvidia and ATI (now part of AMD), puts Microsoft in a position to be able to showcase Vista on the hottest new hardware that these other companies are eager to have an OS to showcase with.
If you ask among the designers and developers of Vista, many of them truely believe that this is the most significant release of a Microsoft Operating System since Windows 95. Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, that kind of excitement coming up from the programmer level is likely to spread to the other companies that deal in Vista compatible hardware and applications; ready to burst out at the earliest opportunity.
If you think that the earliest opportunity will be on January 30th, 2007, you will miss the front edge of the marketing storm by a couple of weeks.
Even before they plan to take the stage for the retail launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft is going to have help the rest of the computer industry with the biggest early opportunity that could fall into their laps: the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV.
CES is where most of the big players in consumer electronics bring out their new wares, and every company there even remotely connected to the Windows sphere of influence will be looking at this show to leverage their positions on the Vista bandwagon. Microsoft will be there too, eager to show not only what Windows Vista can do, but to partner with all the companies that they will be doing it with at launch, and for the marketing blitz beyond.
Even following the controversy over the "donated" laptops to some promenent bloggers, the ability to have Vista projected in front of every major news outlet and tech blog for an entire week dedicated to the best in upcoming technology is going to create a buzz that will carry over into the mainstream media, and give the blogosphere fodder for a couple of weeks, coincidentally leading Microsoft right into the launch event at the end of January.
So enjoy the quiet for now, because the new year is going to be flooded with tech news, and Vista is poised to ride the wave for months to come.