Last time we chatted about how the Windows 7 launch looked like a Windows 95-like event, which for IT typically isn't necessarily a good thing. This time, I'd like to touch on a group of folks who feel more like Mac OS customers who have been demanding Windows Vista.
Vista vs. Windows 95
Unlike Windows 95, Windows Vista clearly didn't start that auspiciously. There were no lines, no magical moments and few people trying to load it on old hardware. IT really didn't want major changes in the operating system and, in a strange way, that's kind of what it got in Vista. It has a lot of plumbing changes behind the scenes, but overall doesn't appear that much different. Granted, it is vastly easier to get a Vista machine onto a wireless network, it doesn't need to be patched as often and needs to be rebooted far less when it is patched, it makes better use of current-generation hardware and no longer needs a floppy drive as part of the installation process.
Yet, I can count only two applications that make Vista really shine, and neither is from Microsoft: the IM client for Vista from Yahoo, which was due last June but still is in beta, and CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4, released last week.
Corel's customers demanded that this product be optimized for Windows Vista and it's the first time I've run into any customer base doing so with Vista.
The result is actually very Apple-like. Given that CorelDRAW's customers are mostly graphic artists, I find this fascinating.
Why Folks Similar to Apple Customers Like Vista
Think of CorelDRAW's customer base. These folks build graphics for signs, ads, publications, billboards, Web sites, and edit photos professionally. In short, these folks make up the core of Apple's professional target market and, according to Corel, they demanded Vista native support.
The result was an offering that, together with the OS, created a better package than anything I'm aware of from any other vendor, including Microsoft.
Does this mean Apple users will switch to Vista? Hardly. But there are a lot of folks that can't, for a variety of reasons -- starting with corporate standards -- use a Mac for graphics work. It's clear these people are talking and Corel listened.
Be Careful What You Wish For
So you have to wonder how many other segments out there would like more-integrated offerings. Windows Vista was largely built under the belief that IT wanted to use existing applications that were not optimized for Windows Vista. That's probably a big reason the product hasn't been that exciting.
Stop and think for a moment: When does IT ever want exciting products? Generally we like offerings that aren't disruptive. But power users like to see change, particularly when it enhances what they can do. It's also clear that users prefer highly integrated offerings. For instance, Apple's highly integrated iLife showcases to an extreme the advantages of its new hardware and software platforms.
I think Microsoft has gotten this message. So it's likely the next version of Windows will be closer to the big move that Windows 95 was and a much bigger jump than Vista.
Next we'll talk about why Windows Vista SP1 should be considered a hedge against premature Windows 7 adoption.