Trailing disappointments on Vista and Office 2007


As I have written before, Own Web Now is doing an experimental launch of Office 2007 and Vista to 1000 US customers. We’re basically providing our client’s main technology driver and early adopter a chance to test Vista and Office on adequate hardware and make an educated decision on whether Vista/Office are worth-while for their business based on actual experience not speculative pundants and grapevine commentary.

The results so far are not promising, not promising at all. Among the chief complaints are:

  • UAC – Users hate User Access Control and rightfully so, Microsoft did a poor job stealing this technology from Unix. You see, in Unix the su and sudo commands allow you to either permanently or temporarily execute commands on behalf of a root (“Administrator”) user for administrative purposes. By executing a sudo followed by a command, user can execute a single command, similar to Windows /runas. By executing su the user can gain administrative rights for the session and operate as a superuser. This has been an elegant way of doing administration on Unix for decades. Enter Microsoft and their innovation. They implemented the exact same concept of elevated privileges except every time you want to do something as an Administrator you have to click to approve access. No way to save settings for the length of the session so if you’re installing a new piece of hardware you’ll have to click approve a few dozen times to get anything done. It is easy to see why people hate UAC and so far it has been the #1 reason people have asked to be taken off Vista. I have personally walked several people through the disabling of UAC.
  • Office Ribbon. Customers are initially very excited with the new Office interface. However, after a few days of use they start to want to go back to Office 2003. The reason? Interface is too prohibitive to allow them to do the tasks they are used to — efficiently. We have proposed building custom ribbons, adding commands and reconstructing the previous look and feel for them. Then we encountered many plugins and addins that no longer worked with Office 2007 and a surprisingly high margin of people has realized just how effective Office 2003 happens to be. Personally, I cannot believe Microsoft did not think to include “classic” interface as an option.
  • Vista Effects – Oh they love to see them. Honestly, for the first few days the users cannot get enough of the eye candy that is Vista. Even the one button launch functionality from the keyboard is getting rave reviews. However, thats when the honeymoon ends. Users start to complain about the slowness and lack of responsiveness to some actions. I addressed this issue personally with a local client – and they are not “slower” but they are more animated. For example, windows fade in and out of the view. Same speed, but that half a second that people like to use to review documents or compare things side by side is really irritating our customers.

So far the experience across the board has been similar. Here are the stages of Vista/Office adoption:

1. Acknowledgment – “They finally did something to make me more productive instead of same ol'”
2. Admission – “I have to say, I love it, I can’t believe how smooth it is!”
3. Denial – “Really, it won’t work with Vista? I have to click on it every time?”
4. Anger – “I can’t believe this is so slow. I can’t handle clicking on 3 menus just to format my spreadsheet.”
5. Acceptance – “I can’t believe how good we have it on XP. We won’t be upgrading…”

So dear J Allard.. I would love to see you make me eat my words and fix the above pain points before Vista/Office 2007 becomes generally available and your arrogance puts both Microsoft and Microsoft Partners out of billions of dollars. No, those are not fighting words, those are the facts as my fellow partners and customers see them.

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