Leopard vs. Vista: Litigation Email Points to Apple's Advantage: Page 2

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Why Shouldn’t IT Get A Vote?

Actually IT does get a vote but that vote needs to come through the OEMs who will be delivering the related solution, not come in around them. IT has as a primary responsibility containing costs. Even if they wanted to drive though a new OS, if the user doesn’t want it, the line organizations they report to can easily say no (as we have seen in the Vista early adopter sites which stalled).

For some time now IT analysts have recommended that new OSes primarily come in on new hardware. This avoids much of the related support problems that seem to result when putting a new OS on hardware that wasn't designed for the OS and couldn’t be tested by the OEM with it. In my experience much of the cost and most of the problems associated with a new OS, including Apple’s platforms, have to do with upgrading hardware.

IT is not generic and every company has different requirements. To address these requirements each OEM has specific tools they use, for instance Lenovo has ThinkVantage Technologies. If the OEM’s needs are the focus then the OEM solutions become optimized to overcome the IT objections. When Microsoft goes directly to the IT managers the solutions they have and the solutions that OEMs have come into conflict. And conflict lowers adoption.

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In the months that preceded the launch of Windows Vista the OEMs increasingly reported their frustration with Microsoft and felt the firm simply wasn’t listening to them. The end result was that Vista has not been a launch anyone has been particularly proud of. These same OEMs are saying that Microsoft is listening to them now which suggests SP1 (to some degree) and Windows 7 (to a great degree) will benefit from this thinking.

Love or hate Apple they clearly lead in the user experience department and that is primarily because they can focus on one customer and this customer rewards them with loyalty unmatched in the technology space. Apple isn’t perfect however, and often seems to take these customers for granted, which suggests another firm could do better. The OEMs led by HP, Dell, and Lenovo are trying but they can’t get there without Microsoft stepping up. At a recent meeting with one of them it became clear that their biggest impediment to being successful was Microsoft.

At the core of the Vista problem is complexity. In this case it is complexity of direction, but it extends to the complexity of the organization itself.

So, in the end, in many ways, I do see Microsoft getting better but it is taking longer than it should. At some point, they are really going to have to start treating the OEMs as their primary customers if they want to avoid a repeat of the problems they have seen with Vista. The fact that it appears to take large fines and litigation to focus Microsoft on making needed changes is troubling and probably should be the focus of some of the thinking there.

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