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My Say: Microsoft's delays cause more than just frowns

My Say: Microsoft's delays cause more than just frowns

As soon as Tobey Maguire gets bit by that radioactive spider and starts swinging around on gross-looking web thingies, his uncle has that quote that defines his future: "With great power comes great responsibility." The big M needs to adopt that philosophy, too.

Microsoft has made a concerted effort to rev every product in its arsenal at least once every two years. We all know why it does that: buckeroonies. Keep pushing customers down the never-ending upgrade path and increase your revenues. But it gets a little more complex when you've got oodles of market share and some of your products require other products to do their job.

Frankly, Microsoft's been ignoring that little part of the equation and it's getting ever more annoying.

The Vista delay announcements haven't really been that troublesome; if I were contemplating a new desktop OS rollout, a sudden delay would bother me only a little.

Having the "20 per cent chance of another delay" announcement tossed at me, on the other hand, followed by yet more silence would be downright annoying. But it continues. Last week's announcement that Expressions was going to be delayed by at least a year got my frown a-wrinkling, too. Expressions Studio is what FrontPage has become.

Apparently, the product now won't show up possibly until 2008. That's not critical to system admins, but developers sure are getting a curveball tossed their way, even those with duties as small as Sharepoint collaboration. Now there's another announcement that puts some service updates for Visual Studio into question. Two of these were supposed to be delivered around this time. It looks like the first one won't be out until August, and there's been no word on when the second update will be delivered. Just service packs, true, but these contain specific feature updates that some developers are no doubt waiting for.

So up until now, I was coasting along thinking I was doing okay. But then I helped Jamie Bernstein with our forthcoming review of Exchange 2007. This is where Microsoft's laissez-faire attitude toward delivery started to spoil my day.

The problem is that Redmond is dictating a 64-bit-only future for pretty much all of its back-server products once Longhorn sees daylight. I'm fine with that -- it's the natural evolution of server-side computing, so they might as well develop toward it and cut down on complexity.

That is, it works out provided Longhorn ships on time. But it won't. Vista has already been pushed back and Longhorn will undoubtedly get pushed right along with it. Yet for some reason, back-end products such as Exchange 2007 are still shipping on time -- that'll be around November for Exchange 2007.

That means a 64-bit-only version of Exchange will be delivered several months before Longhorn. And this means anyone trying to run the thing as soon as it comes out will need to run it on Windows Server 2003 x64 ... until Longhorn comes out, at which point Microsoft will strongly suggest that you upgrade.

See, that's just blatant disregard for your customer.

Of course, the fix is easy: We just won't buy it until Longhorn sees daylight.


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