Vista: will the onslaught be enough ?

In New York it was impossible to ignore the mounting media wave supporting the launch of Vista. You can tell it is a defining moment for the giant of redmond by the sheer breadth of the campaign.  $500M …

Take this discrete billboard as an example:

Whilst Vista undoubtedly makes Windows somewhat sexy again, I wonder if this is the moment when MS really stumbles as a consumer product under the combined pressures of:

  • The disapperance of apps: I don’t know about you, but apart from Excel I very rarely use any of the office suite anymore, and I would gladly move off Outlook tomorrow if you gave me a good alternative.  Internally we stopped using any kind of complex templates for presentations.  More and more we can survive on the very simple collaboration apps of the kind provided by 37 Signals.
  • The XUL Brigade: so Vista is finally starting to look like iLife.  But is this enough? Can they cath up with these fast moving targets:  Look at Mozilla / Flock for browsing, Songbird for Music, VeniceProject / JOOST for TV, as a few examples of XUL based applications that are picking up steam and building up to a significant competitive threat.  If IE7 is anything to go by, I would really worry.
  • The Consumer: Vista is very secure, great, but you the choices made by MS are without a doubt designed to please the embattled media industry, not consumers. 
  • Its own weight: I can’t believe the hardware replacement cycle required by Vista will happen at the speed required to meet the forecasts of the Microsoft financial planners.

I have no doubt that most mainstream users will embrace the simplicity, security and sexiness.  I question the ROI of the media campaign and wonder how much market share can be taken away from the mighty MS in each of the core apps of the digital lifestyle. Gates himself seems to be nervous and resorting to tactics more usually seen in election campaigns…

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