Farewell Vista

The IT news today is full of reports that most purchasers of Windows PCs will from now be able to upgrade their system from Windows Vista to Windows 7, for little or no money, when it becomes available in October.  This – along with Windows 7’s ‘XP simulation’ mode – is indeed probably the death knell of Windows Vista.  Which will probably be unlamented by many.

That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, ‘It cannot be right that these actions should go any further.’

That’s not about Windows, it’s actually Lord Denning’s fatuous reasoning for dismissing the  Birmingham Six’s application for leave to appeal in 1980, on the startling grounds that if they succeeded in overturning their conviction for pub bombings,  it’d make it clear to everyone that there had been the most shocking and extensive fit-up. Which, of course, there had been.  ‘Appalling vista’ became a bit of a buzzphrase among people campaigning for the Birmingham Six’s eventual release.  The phrase has been coming to mind again recently.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the loss of traction by Microsoft with Vista – coupled with the explosion of platforms that aren’t conventional desktop PCs – is a recoverable blip like with Windows ME, or a clear turning point in the history of IT.

I wouldn’t bet against Microsoft’s ability to sell software at scale – they are very good at it. Writing off a company that huge with that large a cash pile and that many smart people would be daft.

But I am sure, as I said in my Babel post, that multiple platforms are here to stay, and the times when you could assume that nearly everyone using a computer had Microsoft Windows are long gone.

(Though as people have pointed out in comments and directly to me, they never really existed anyway.)

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Author: dougclow

Academic in the Institute of Educational Technology, the Open University, UK. Interested in technology-enhanced learning and learning analytics.

3 thoughts on “Farewell Vista”

  1. Whether they actually have a large cash pile is an open question. They’ve been doing dodgy accounting for the last ten years, and it’s only the past few quarters they couldn’t synthesise the planned results for Wall Street. They are also now selling bonds, i.e. debt.

    1. I’ll grant that some smoke and mirrors might be going on, but it’s a pretty strong statement to say that their annual accounts are materially misleading.

      Last results I can dig out from the MSFT Investor Relations site (dated 23 Apr 2009) states net income of $3bn for the 9 months to 31 March 09 – down on the previous year, but it’s hardly a profound challenge to the balance sheet. They give an audited figure for cash and short-term investments of $23bn on 30 June 2008, and an unaudited one of $25bn for 31 March 2009. From memory, that’s down from its peak, but it’s still a lot of money to have sloshing around doing nothing.

      1. They’ve certainly played silly buggers to a considerable extent. It’s only “materially misleading” if and when you get caught badly enough. They already dealt with one whistleblower by paying him off.

        Having lots of cash on hand is public image stuff, however. They’re not acting like a company that has lots of cash on hand. They’ve never borrowed like this before.

        Part of it is that large parts of their success relied on an ever-increasing share price. Trouble is that around 2000, they got to a size where they were too big to expand like that, so the stock flatlined. Shareholders are profoundly unhappy, but I’m not sure much could have been done about this. I suspect splitting the company up in 2000 would actually have been better for the shareholders.

        Then there’s internal technical decadence and decay, of which Vista is a perfect example.

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