Are the Windows half open or half closed?

In response to the recent spur of events surrounding Windows 7, I’ve seen reactions from both sides of the spectrum. I know some people including myself can get carried away sometimes staring at one side of the coin and become blinded to the truth. So out of fairness, I came up with this glass-is-half-empty and glass-is-half-full comparison of the possible Windows disclosure policies. What do you think? Am I riding a dead horse?

The recent stream of Windows 7 information provides a good inside look at the Windows organisation at Microsoft. The recent stream of Windows 7 information is selfish and damaging to the Windows organisation at Microsoft.
It happened as a result of too little information provided to the public about the development of the Windows platform. It happened as a result of growing disrespect for private information and secrecy.
People who shared the information are valuable contributors to the Windows community. Their anonymity should be protected. People who shared the information should be identified and punished so it does not happen again.
This is exactly why the Windows group should be more transparent so we receive information through official sources. This is exactly why the Windows group should lock down communication more to prevent the release of any information.
Humans have a natural curiosity to explore new things. Windows Vista is not outdated, but it is current technology. The release of Windows Vista was depreciated due to the abundance of pre-release information.
Windows is an open platform and it is expected to share early details of next versions. Details of next versions of Windows need to be more restricted to build anticipation.
The open-source community proves information can be shared openly, yet users are still excited about and satisfied with new releases. Apple’s recent success is attributed greatly to their ability to control and ultimately eliminate any pre-release information.
Longhorn “failed” because expectations were set unrealistically high. Longhorn “failed” because expectations were communicated too early.
To make sure it never happens again, ensure expectations are realistic. To make sure it never happens again, do not discuss any details.
Office 2007 succeeded because of a revolutionary and genuinely useful feature. Office 2007 succeeded because it was a closed development and users had no expectations.
Office and Windows are completely different platforms. Sinofsky brings the experience and subsequent success of building Office 2007 to Windows.
Windows 7 will be well received because Microsoft will not set high expectations. Windows 7 will be well received because users will have very low expectations.
Windows 7 may not be well received because Microsoft is communicating with its users. Windows 7 may not be well received if more information is ‘leaked’ to the public.
Long needs to be terminated.

17 insightful thoughts

  1. If we tell more about Windows 7, which is what happened with Vista, people will start expecting more. Remember, Microsoft may rule out any plans as they like after evaluating, which may be bad for some users. So, its better to publish/interact with everyone once everything is finalised. Even in the last few posts where we had seen a glimpse of some of the features makes us think why the hell it hasnt come under Ultimate Extras! So, I would suggest not to disclose any information until its necessary!

  2. I’ve just got Vista not long ago, I don’t want to be thinking about Windows 7 just yet.

    Okay, maybe I do just a little.

  3. For the most part, I agree with Long 2. Long 1 loosk at it from a non-business standpoint. If you look at this from a corporate standpoint you will agree with Long 2. Long 2 is truly logical, and talks about how a corporation REALLY works. Not how random people who don’t work for MS THINK the place should be ran…

  4. I think that it’s interesting perspectives you’ve managed to carry out. However, I feel that the new Microsoft orgnisation is the one looking at it as being more open. Microsoft has gone through several ways of doing business and I believe that Microsoft is going through another one.

    My opinion though… means jack shit :)

  5. I think you have a very valid point regarding Apple’s ability to shut out “outsiders” until they think the product’s ready to meet the world. Although Apple’s recent success can be attributed to multiple factors, the fact they are able to keep the public in suspense is their biggest asset.

  6. I think some of those are false dichotemies but I fall on the side of these individuals divulging information that they are not authorized to do so. It does make me wonder if they are explicity violating contracts they signed, as that would mean their word doesn’t mean much.

  7. I agree with the right side more. It’s technically right, and that’s the more safer route.

    That’s why Apple’s business model is much more sound and popular. Giving surprises (instead of saying “Oops – we didn’t do this) is better than dishing out disappointments.

    I remember how there was a show of Longhorn at PDC 2003, and “Instant Desktop Search” was a feature shown, and Apple placed it first in Tiger, before Vista. And of course, it seems like Microsoft just copied Apple on another concept. Exactly why showing tech ‘demos’ only leads to other smart techies to put them in first.

    Public betas are dumb. Users who experience issues and whatnot blog and talk about it, making it look bad, even though it’s NOT the final product.

    And the Office team has obviously done a better job in releasing their latest version than the Win team.

    Sometimes it’s best to keep it a secret. In the mean time, give out other things people want and they’ll be happy (like Vista SP1, Ultimate Extras, etc.)

    So the option on the right is much better.

  8. Long,
    You’re looking at this from the perspective of a consumer. The only potential ramifications of incorrect information released too early (i.e. features are cut, features don’t exist yet in pre-release builds that will come later) is that your expectations and excitement is diminished.

    But you have to remember that Microsoft isn’t Apple. Microsoft has spawned an entire industry dedicated to creating products that work with Windows – both software and hardware. Within this ecosystem, there are a number of companies that have to make “big bets” based on what they know about the next version of Windows. If features are out publicly before things are “fully baked”, these bets may turn out to be poor and livelihoods are put in danger.

    I believe this is the main reason why Microsoft is trying to keep things under wraps- not for consumer excitement, but for the actual protection of the ecosystem.

  9. The choice of early disclosure is a game that all companies have to play, and it highly depends on the product. When a company has a great innovation that is more or less complete (with relatively minor adjustments), early disclosure is a great way to get people chomping at the bit (pre-orders for video games, anyone?). But if you’re not sure if you can deliver what you promise at approximately the date you promise it, it’s best to keep it under wraps.

    Microsoft played the game and lost, fair and square. It made promises on Vista that it couldn’t accomplish, and paid the price in disgruntled customers. But this should come as no surprise: Microsoft has a history of talking about its products ahead of time and then not being able to deliver on its claims. Apple, on the other hand, knows that operating systems are pretty hard to get working, so they choose the non-disclosure route — but then again, they also make more reasonable and feasible changes to the OS per release.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft has a problem with switching from an early disclosure to a policy of secrecy. Since Microsoft has made it a prior policy to disclose innovation, customers have come to expect it, and they feel jilted when Microsoft suddenly becomes hush-hush.

    It seems, then, that the only reasonable solution would be for Microsoft to continue disclosing, but only those things that they are relatively certain of. Sure, it makes for a less exciting pre-sell, but on the off chance that they do manage to pull off the uncertain developments in time for ship-out, the customers will be that much more enamored of Microsoft and be more willing to encourage friends to make the switch after release.

    That being said, it seems to me that the issue of disclosure is somewhat irrelevant to the success of Vista, as Microsoft made plenty of other mistakes that would account for its lackluster acceptance. I know more people who were simply ticked off by Vista not working with supposedly “Vista compatible” hardware, than they were about the failed bigger-and-better promises.

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