Last year when Windows Vista shipped, I enthusiastically installed this latest-and-greatest Microsoft Operating System on a couple of my computers. I was quickly dismayed to find it completely unusable on both computers because Vista drivers that I required were not available.
One of my computers could not see the internet because Vista didn’t ship with a driver for my network card. This was a bit of dark irony as Microsoft was really pushing the message: “Vista ships with bunches of drivers, and many more are freely available online!” Since my computer lacked a Vista network card driver, I couldn’t connect to the internet and… thusly I could not download new ones. So, in my situation, what good was it that Microsoft was busily posting new drivers on Microsoft Update? Hopefully, Microsoft documented this Lesson-Learned from Vista: When shipping a new Operating System, don’t forget the Network Card Drivers.
I installed Vista on another computer, and… Vista could not see my SATA hard drive. This really was unfortunate as this XP-based computer had been reliably using the SATA hard drive for years. This drive contained all my data: music, photos, videos, work documents, spreadsheets, application source code, databases, etc. So, even though I could boot Vista and access the internet, I could not actually use this computer for work, or for leisure. In this case, I could access Microsoft Update to check for new drivers but… none were available for my SATA hard drive.
I was a little disappointed, but mainly confused. The Microsoft’s PR machine was loudly broadcasting the news that Vista shipped with an amazing quantity of drivers. In fact the actual language was something like: “Vista ships with more drivers than XP had when it shipped”. On a large scale, I feel the Microsoft PR machine was really communicating this broader message: Run, don’t walk, to your favorite computer store and buy Vista today! Because this OS will work with your hardware, and you will be happy!
At least, that’s the message I took away from Microsoft’s marketing colossus. Looking back, I’d wasted a dozen hours and was considerably less than happy.
What I find slightly dishonest with this marketing tact is: statistics can be made to lie. Let’s look at the situation from a different and truthful angle. Vista did ship with a bunch of drivers, but many mainstream and very functional computers could not run Vista because drivers were not available. Bunches of people purchased Vista and quickly realized that drivers they needed were not available for their existing hardware. I wonder if anyone has readily available statistics showing that when it first shipped, Vista ran on a smaller percentage of available hardware than XP did when it first shipped.
Now that Microsoft has had a year to improve Vista, they’ve been working like the world’s biggest hive of busy-bees. I sincerely hope Microsoft’s extensive hierarchy of executives and management has been focusing on the right things. I guess you could say: that’s why they get paid the big bucks. And, that’s why we consumers are paying the big bucks to them.
In Microsoft’s defense, they have developed a bunch of drivers over this past year. And good new for me: the driver I require for my SATA hard drive (NForce2 SATA controller) has been developed (by Microsoft) and published a couple months ago (by Microsoft). So, I can now use that computer with Vista, but in all truthiness I think Microsoft was about a year late.
My personal opinion regarding non-cutting edge hardware: driver development is the responsibility of the operating system maker. Case in point: Nvidia was not going to develop my SATA driver because… Nvidia won’t see a dime of profit if they developed the driver (but Microsoft will profit from more Vista sales). In fact, Nvidia officially stated that nForce2 hardware was “too old” and they are only developing Vista drivers for NForce3. So, about a year after Vista ships… Microsoft finally develops and ships the NForce2 driver. Problem solved… about one year too late.
As I like to say: software is always a work in progress because it’s never really done. Instead, software continually delivers different levels of user satisfaction to different users. It’s up to the software maker to continually make the right decisions. Hopefully, Microsoft will re-focus on: the end-user, quality, performance, reliability and usability. If they don’t… I’m increasingly becoming enamored with Mac OS-X.