Passing the Microsoft Buck

My original post on Vista and Office 2007 -- along with the scores of other negative opinions voiced by other influencers at the same time -- appears to have damaged Microsoft's PR launch of their long-awaited new operating system and desktop application suite upgrade. As it should. But in the dialogue that followed, a number of commenters and observers noted that it's not all Microsoft's fault -- the hardware manufacturers should be held accountable as well. Hmmm.

Here's an analogy. Let's say that you're sourcing parts from Asia. The parts themselves are fine when they leave the factory, but inevitably, they always arrive late to the domestic facility and are usually damaged in transit. This happens regardless of the logistics or 3PL providers who you work with. Who is to blame? The manufacturer or the logistics and transportation companies? Clearly, it's the logistics providers, right? Well what if I told you that the manufacturer was not palletizing their shipments (which caused the delay) and also failed to package them to certain specifications (which was what was leading to the damage on each shipment). Then, what would you think?

In my view, since no one is running Redmond hardware on their desktop -- I perish even the concept of the thought -- Microsoft clearly has an ethical obligation to test all of the popular configurations of Vista and Office 2007 on at least their top ten OEM resellers. To not do this is akin to shipping parts overseas knowing full well that they will arrive damaged and late. Sure, you might say, they left my factory in perfect condition. But the question is not how they will perform in a laboratory -- it's how they'll behave in the real world.

Just as in almost every other major initial enterprise product release they've had, Microsoft blew it. That is, unless you think that they're under no obligation to work with their top OEM providers to get things right the first time. In my view, it's a good thing that Microsoft is not providing engine management or climate control technology to Honda and Toyota. Could you imagine their PR team trying to tell consumers that it's the auto maker's fault for not installing the system properly on the production line during the first model year? Given their track record, I'm sure they'd try.

Jason Busch

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