Now, there are three fundamental laws of computing for end users which we are all driven by because they are the fundamentals of how we are driven as humans. I bet you're wondering what the hell it could be -
1. I paid money for my computer. I own it AND I want it to work.
2. I paid money for my Software. I own it AND I want it to work.
3. I don't like change and when I do need to change I like them visual and simple.
4. I don't like choice. Tell me what I need to do what I need to.
Now, for all the people reading this who are sure saying "what bollocks" - sit back and think about the mean of user sentiment. Think about it through your organization - not the tech savvy or trend setters, the average punters who are the ones spending most of the money around the globe.
The fundamental premise of this article is that rule number 2 is being violated in very subtle ways. BUT since it has been that way as long as most people can remember it is maintained due to a state of stasis cause by rule 3.
Vista violates many of these rules in new ways and it will be up to the final acceptance of the implementation to determine if it really is the longest suicide note in history; with respect to the DRM issues which have been raised, I fundamentally lose control over facets of my hardware and as a simple end user it stops working as advertised depending on the kind of content I put in. BUT rules 2 and 3 are somewhat intact - so again, it makes it past the post as far as general public goes.
I have been growing with my sense of discontent; as many others have been - with what Vista represents in regards to rule 1 violations. But lets look at what MS is doing right - even if it is a user illusion - to see why they dominate the market:
* Whilst they have always added new features between version steps, they have always kept rule 1 sacred. They make stupidly obese bloatware, but you can generally turn it off to some extent.
* Rule 2 is GOLDEN for Microsoft. They even make kernel patches in new versions of the OS to maintain functionality in legacy applications which are popular at the time - have a read of http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/ to get some context on this front. Raymond Chen sheds some light on the hows and whys on this front. VERY interesting reading.
* Rule 3, well each version step has added different lipstick on the pig. When things finally went beyond the visual trappings to a general consensus that whats under the hood makes a difference (See the state of the world before XP service pack 2) and started paying attention to security, MS responded. Now, Vista is trying to balance both with the established, yet enhanced user experience feel in Aero and also the full secutiry model changes.
* Rule 4. Well, I don't need to say much on this front - but if you ever wondered why MS seemingly does everything - its not because its good at it - its because they realize that it will sell due to the power of the brand and the drive of rule 4 in the minds of many average users.
If you look at the four rules, you can also see why different vendors are successful in some areas and not in others. Look at Linux - RedHat has always had trouble getting traction because rule 2 is void - so there is no perceived value - and rule 4 is massively violated. Then look at the traction of Ubuntu thanks to the simplicity it introduced to the idea of a distro.
OSX had a great transition from OS9 because rule 2 was not violated. OSX PPC to OSX Intel was the same deal. But then OSX also violated rule 2 AND rule 3 by bringing out too many versions of the OS every year which were paid upgrades which also caused many new apps to fail compatability on the older versions of the OS - but it was all OSX.
You start to see the pattern?