The message with a subject line of “Press inquiry: Phone interview w/ German radio on Vista Launch” hit my inbox late last night. I decided to respond in writing, if only to mentally prep myself for the impending phone call. Reinhard Roede wrote:

I’m preparing a short radio segment on the launch of Windows Vista, to be aired in our show called ‘Zuendfunk‘ on German public radio. And I’d like to ask you for a short radio interview on Vista and, especially, the public (blog) coverage of its development. In a bunch of websites and weblogs like yours, I’ve read many pieces of information about the beta stages of Longhorn / Vista in the last months and years – and now, I’ve got the impression that Windows Vista is the first major OS (version) ever to be developed under the watchful eyes of hundreds of techie webloggers worldwide.

Well, since America’s NPR isn’t dialing my number (or sending me emails), I’d be more than happy to seed my opinions to listeners in Germany.

How public geek-blog coverage might have changed the OS that is shipping now…

I’d say that general community feedback and communication has made a pretty solid impact on what the world will see in the shipping version of Windows Vista. Microsoft willfully opened the door to power users throughout the pre-release process. Certainly, there are hundreds of teams responsible for various parts of the platform – and some groups were more receptive to feedback than others. I know that a handful of my own suggestions actually made it into shipping code!

Which information sources and agents seem to have been meaningful in this development and which were not…

Well, I’ve been happy to pass feedback through Nick White and Aaron Coldiron – as well as Lili Cheng, Dave Vronay, and (in some cases) Jim Allchin. They were all aware that I held Windows Vista to a very high standard. Make no mistake: everybody who worked on the operating system, even the bits that will never see the light of day, has been meaningful in the process. Microsoft scores a perfect 100 in terms of community interaction and involvement, whereas Apple consistently scores a -4. In terms of external agents feeding the Microsoft machine, that would be just about anybody who got their hands on a publicly-available beta. Every bit of feedback, acknowledged or otherwise, I’m sure has been meaningful to Vista’s teams.

What did Microsoft like and dislike about (especially blog) coverage…

Good or bad, any kind of discussion is great. What you have to understand is that a lot of people who work at Microsoft aren’t outsiders to the blogosphere – they’re actually inside (and quite active) in the blogosphere. Certainly, Microsoft should be happy that external bloggers have written anything about Vista. If there’s something to dislike, it’s that more people aren’t talking about it in some way.

Oh, that’s easy: blogger reactions, mine included, have been raw. We don’t pull any punches with our passions. I see something that I feel needs to be stated, and I’m going to state it. I am my own editorial process – it boils down to the feeling in my gut. “Old school” coverage never gave us a chance to ask questions and continue the dialogue. Never before was I given a chance to tell the world what I felt was important. Mind you, I’ve been publishing online since before the release of Windows 98! Moreover, not all members of the tech press are true geeks.

Did there evolve a certain spirit of publicly shared expertise among techie bloggers during that [beta] process…

There have been quite a few agreements and disagreements surrounding Vista. More than anything, the non-technical world simply wants to know if they should run out and get the new operating system ASAP (or just wait until it comes pre-installed on their next computer). I’m giving Vista a tentative “thumbs sideways” – compared to my tentative “thumbs up” for Windows XP, and a forceful “thumbs down” for Windows Me. My unscientific hypothesis is that 50% of the tech world thinks we should skip Vista for now, and the other 50% think Vista is fine to use today.

What are your own feelings and impressions of the product in the different stages of beta versions you had in your hands…

Early on, I had extremely high hopes – and that enthusiasm faded into frustration with later builds. I couldn’t figure out why (and how) so many details were skipped in the polishing process. Mind you, I’m running Windows Vista on my desktop today – if only because I’ve got to get to know the product intimately if I’m to make recommendations for or against it.

And, of course, what are your impressions of the now-released product…

My impression of Windows Vista is generally lukewarm, given that many aspects of the OS and its apps seem unfinished, halfhearted. There are still quite a bit of software / hardware compatibility issues at play – too many. That said, I’m overly impressed with the way Vista handles drivers; in the time I’ve been working inside “gold” code, I’ve had a few problems rectified through the new Windows Update process. Windows Vista is (off-the-shelf) overpriced, and I would encourage most users to wait until at least SP1 has been released before considering migrating an existing Windows install from XP to Vista.

By the way, I think I subscribed to your Lockergnome newsletter already in the late 90s or so, but somehow lost track of all the useful hints and tools that I simply hadn’t the time anymore to try out. But when I read ‘Lockergnome’ or ‘Chris Pirillo’ somewhere, it always reminds me of my Getting-Started-with-my-first-own-PC-during-University-time ages, almost 10 years ago.

My god, I’m getting to be an old geek.

[tags]vista, windows vista, windowsvista, party, microsoft[/tags]