Microsoft sent a TechNet newsletter to my immediate boss saying it was a "...special bonus edition of TechNet Flash featuring content specifically selected to inform and ease your Windows Vista deployment." Now in the first sentience of the TechNet newsletter, they admit that this is selective data rather than an unbiased information. Now given Vista's track record, lets be honest, unbiased facts that promote Vista are few and far between. "...content specifically selected to inform..." I'm guessing that Microsoft does not trust me to not look at all the mountains of information showing the exact opposite of what they are trying to sell me. Well lets take a look at this information and break it down piece by piece to see if there is some real information sprinkled on top of their Vista propaganda.

A Short introduction

There is first a short paragraph talking about Vista in general. Stating that security was a top priority, compatibility at launch was not ideal, and after 18 additional months Vista is now where it should have been at for RTM. I'm paraphrasing but thats the general idea. First off UAC part of the new security focus can be easily coded around already. They have effectively proved that the UAC dialog boxes can be completely bypassed with a few extra lines of code. What a surprise then when you look at the fact that the UAC when left on just teaches users to click [OK] all the time and allow what ever pops up to run. When reading the arstechna posts about switching from Microsoft to Apple from a programming perspective, we learn that Microsoft does not actually use its own tools it creates for manufactures to write drivers. How do we know? Well if your too lazy to read the whole post, they essentially wrote in a way to handle things like real time audio but never really tested it so when people made drivers they made it for a broken system. Right before launch Redmond attempted to fix the problem and then rewrote the audio framework. This made it so that when Vista launched there were hardly any audio drivers. Knowing this is it a surprise that the decent video drivers have only come to market in the past few months?!

Facts, What Facts?

  • Windows Vista now supports more than 77,000 printers, cameras, speakers and other devices

Ok great. What printers? Do you mean that there are 77,000 printers, cameras, speakers and other devices in production? Maybe but I doubt it. It is really more likely that a decent chunk of those devices are all from 2005 to present. Another large chunk of those devices use common drivers. The printers for example. HP has at least 200 printer models on the market since 2005. Why write a new driver for them? Well they didn't. HP uses the exact same PCL drivers for just about all its printers. The 5 that don't? I don't know I've never ran into them. Next, what about cameras? Well since most people now have memory card readers or the cameras just show up as one, is it any surprise that they work? It would be more impressive if they didn't work. Speakers, why list speakers? How on earth could there be a need to count speakers for hardware compatibility? Last time I checked the 1/8" headphone jack was pretty standard. Maybe things have changed though since the last time I looked at the back of my computer let me check...nope same old same old. Other devices, aka theres more stuff but not many people use them. Don't forget, the manufacturer has to write drivers for most of the products without any help from Microsoft. Some exceptions are the universal print drivers (like PCL), UVC based webcam (UVC is required for webcams to become Vista certified and there is UVC built into OSX and a module for Linux), USB storage, speakers. All that stuff doesn't need a driver to be installed. But what about iPods, special printers, sound cards, video cards, network cards and the like?

  • More than 2,700 software programs are "Certified for" or "Works with" Windows Vista-logoed; 97 of the top 100 consumer applications are compatible.Congrats? Should you be rewarded for doing whats expected already? Last time I checked there are over 5,000 open source projects being tracked on sites like source forge and Google code#.
  • 62% of small businesses said Windows Vista saves them time, and 70% said it makes them more productive, according to an independent survey.Sure, I mean you had to buy faster hardware so theres gotta be a performance increase. Let's back up, how do you even measure something like this?
  • More than 140 million copies of Windows Vista have been sold, making it the fastest selling operating system in Microsoft history. Even Macs run it.

OK now thats a big number. However how many people are actually running it? Isn't that whats really important? What about the actual market share? Market share is as fallows:

Or from another source:

2008 WinXP W2000 Win98 Vista W2003 Linux Mac
April 73.3% 3.3% 0.5% 8.8% 1.9% 3.7% 4.6%
March 72.7% 3.7% 0.6% 8.5% 1.9% 3.9% 4.4%
February 72.4% 4.0% 0.8% 7.8% 1.8% 3.8% 4.3%
January 73.6% 4.0% 0.8% 7.3% 1.9% 3.6% 4.4%

So depending on who you ask, Vistas penetration is only 9-16 %. Now where did those 140 million come from? Lets take a look, the 140 million, that is the total of sold copies including VOLUME LICENSING TO OEM RETAILERS. That means they sell 30 million copies to Dell, but not CDs just 30 million license. Now do that a few times over and you get 140 million.

  • 71% of Windows Vista customers like it better than their last operating system.

Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, 71% of 16% of all computer users or about 11 out of 100 are glad they upgraded. I mean 71% is a C- and thats with Vista users alone!

  • People familiar with Windows Vista are two to three times more likely to have a favorable impression of it.Really? Well lets see 71% are glad they upgraded. And 2:1 is 66% and 3:1 is 75% so between 2-3 times more likely to have an positive impression? Umm, if I'm not mistaken thats the exact same fact just displayed as a word problem.
  • Every 10 PC's that switch to Windows Vista is the equivalent of taking an automobile off the road.

Wait what? Fortunately they link you to the study of power savings with this little gem (PDF) nested in the conclusion section:

Leaving PCs on constantly consumes large amounts of energy-mostly wasted energy. Organizations should be aware of this and the associated impact to the organization's bottom line as well as the environmental impact. Wasted power results in higher utility bills and significant environmental impact. Using the Sleep feature on Windows Vista PCs offers organizations significant cost savings, helps to maximize energy conservation, and improves the overall user experience through instant on accessibility.

In other words, if your a business and your a regulated industry, you will see no power savings. Why? Updates. In order for updates to be installed all computers must be left on overnight for places like banks. And home users? Well you can let vista auto download install updates at the default time but you'd have to turn off the sleep mode so you computer actually stays on over night to do it automatically. Don't forget the anti virus updates and scans that auto run. How bout the power consumption while running? On a Lenovo Thinkpad vista consumed 10% more power than Ubuntu 8.04. So where are the power savings?

More FUD And The Like

The rest of the newsletter states more detailed manufactured results to convince you that you need this when the truth is you don't. Don't settle for less strive for more. More freedom, more performance, more stability. Do you self a favor and try Ubuntu or openSUSE. If that is too scary, just go the OS X rout.

Original Technet Article