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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 18:42 GMT
Tech rant: Vista visions
Vista on shop shelf, PA
Vista went on sale to consumers on 30 January
BBC Click reporter Chris Long casts an eye over the hoopla surrounding the launch of Windows Vista and wonders if all the interest was justified.

It must have been a slow news day.

Who would have thought there would be so much fuss about the consumer launch of Microsoft's Vista (am I the only person who thinks it sounds like a brand of condoms)?

We had techies, frowning commentators asking "difficult" questions - and Bill Gates.

I've made a list of the people that the launch was really of interest to. It's not a long one.

  • 1 - people who are thinking of buying a new PC
  • 2 - technology managers who have to install it in offices
  • 3 - geeks
  • And that's about it.

    Yet a lot of people seemed forced to comment on it. One question that trotted out regularly was: "Won't a lot of people need to upgrade their computer to run Vista?"

    It is a question that misunderstands decades of computer development.

    Let's get this sorted out once and for all. New computers are more powerful than those they replace. It's the law - Moore's law, in fact.

    Computer chip, Eyewire
    Moore's law describes the growing power of chips
    New versions of operating systems have more features, to do this they need more computational horsepower. So of course a lot of old computers won't run Vista - they aren't supposed to.

    The vast majority of Vista users will be those that get it bundled with their new computer.

    We even had a lawyer, who apparently was compelled to complain that Microsoft has made Vista difficult to steal plus it doesn't let you watch High Def video for which the copyright has been broken.

    Am I wrong in thinking there are better targets to aim at?

    According to Amazon the UK prices are the same as the US dollar prices - thus Vista Ultimate in the US is $375.99. In the UK its 350.99. The Home Basic Upgrade is $99.99 and 99.99.

    Then there is the interest in Bill Gates. Nice enough bloke in the flesh, I've been bumping into him over the years since we had a row in the lobby of a New York hotel in 1986 which I guess must be around the time he stopped writing computer code.

    In 1998 he handed over day-to-day running of Microsoft to Steve Ballmer, in 2000 Ballmer became CEO and "boss" of Microsoft.

    Let's not be too disingenuous here, Gates is phenomenally important to Microsoft both intellectually and as a brand, but, I repeat, he IS NOT the boss.

    Bill Gates, AP
    The fascination with Bill Gates baffles Chris Long
    So why do we want to talk to him? Is it because he is the richest man in the world or because he is a bloke who works for Microsoft? Do we really think we can get him to say: "Oh rats, it's a rubbish piece of software and I don't know why we do it!" or are we after a loan?

    And then there is the Mac. Invariably a stick with which to beat Microsoft. Here then is a bit of perspective to the question: "Bill, are you worried about the threat of the Mac?"

    Apple sold around five million Macs globally in 2006. According to analyst group Gartner there were 230 million PCs sold to consumers during that period.

    So what is the fuss about? I think we have missed the point about computers. Ultimately they are simply our tools.

    I'm writing this on a word processor - it matters not one jot to you if it's an Amstrad 9512 or a CDC 174 (Google will help the curious). Software is only as good as what is done with it, technologically Vista is just another step to the future, but only we will decide what waits for us there.

    I still think it sounds like a condom.




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