Now here's a prediction you can believe in: Sean Maloney, the chief sales and marketing officer for chip maker Intel, predicted yesterday that Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 operating system will be welcomed and adopted by consumers and businesses much more quickly than Vista.
In a story in InformationWeek, Maloney said that Windows 7 will be happily embraced after Vista was shunned by millions of users who had heard about Vista's poor compatibility with older printers and other peripherals, and its slow performance.
Windows 7 looks to be "just one big positive" for the marketplace, Maloney said to InformationWeek while making an appearance at Intel's Technology Summit in San Francisco. "This time, we think it will go faster."
I second that emotion. Here's why:
* Even Intel itself shunned Vista last time around. Vista wasn't enough of an improvement over Windows XP; it just wasn't as reliable and well-developed. Intel didn't upgrade some 80,000 of its own workers to Vista from XP because of the issues with the OS, according to a report in The New York Times last June. To me, that's a very telling move from the world's largest and most popular computer chip maker.
* For whatever reason, there's a pattern with releases of new "improved" versions of Windows being skipped over on a regular basis. Windows 95 was a giant success when it was released, in large part because it truly moved computing forward. It improved on the trusted but less-glitzy and less-polished Windows 3.11 for Workgroups and DOS 6.22
But then came Microsoft Bob, which was a huge dud, with its animated help feature and other nonsense, and Windows Millennium Edition (Me), which was named to PC World's "25 worst tech products of all time" list.
The successes, Windows 95 and Windows XP after it, come after waves of expensive embarrassments. It's as though Microsoft brings these things out without enough testing, lets consumers and businesses act as their beta testers, then later saves the day by bringing in the much-needed fixes as a new and improved product. How else can you explain it?
* Maybe Microsoft really, truly believed in all of these operating systems when they created, developed, and released them, but perhaps the company is just so huge that it's lost touch with what consumers and business want. In the lab, maybe those animated dogs and other objects in Bob made perfect sense as a way to help nervous first-time users get acclimated to computers. But did they actually think about using such "innovations" themselves and how ridiculous they would appear?
Some people talk until they are blue in the face about Microsoft being the evil empire that is uncaring about what consumers and businesses want from their computers. I disagree strongly. I think Microsoft's shortcoming is its girth and its layers and layers of insulation from the real world of its users. I think if it listened more to us, they never would have given us Bob and Me and Vista. They'd have given us the good stuff from the start (button).
(Todd R. Weiss is a freelance technology journalist who formerly wrote for Computerworld.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TechManTalking)