Gnomie Elayne D. Cipolla writes:

Hello Chris, Just finished watching the video on Vista and MS’s “tell it to the hand” attitude toward its bread and butter… the consumer. Having just purchased a Toshiba Satellite laptop at the beginning of February and didn’t hear about the nightmare that is Vista until after I purchased this machine, I started having troubles from the get-go… one day, two weeks after purchase, the machine refused to boot. Tried using the recovery disk that came with it and it worked fine for two more weeks, then the same nonsense started happening all over again. I bit the bullet and took the laptop to the local Toshiba authorized repair facility and it found it had bad sectors on the hard drive. Because the machine was still under warranty, the repairs won’t cost me anything. However, I will find out how well the Vista OS works once I pick up the laptop later today. I inquired about having XP2 installed in place of Vista and was told that the laptop would not accommodate XP in any way, shape, or form whatsoever. The machine was “made” to run Vista and Vista it will be.

So much for my story. To answer your question as to what MS needs to do to improve itself… that’s relatively easy. Test, test, and test again… with average folks and not just tech types. And as you said, listen to the people who use it. Just because someone doesn’t have a line of letters and degrees after their name doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about. MS is in a competitive field and wants to remain on the top, but if it only keeps its eyes on the bottom line… well, it’ll be on the bottom looking up before long. Change for change’s sake is not progress. My dad used to tell me, “When Detroit comes out with a new model, don’t buy it the first year. Wait a year and let them get all the bugs out of it. Every new model has problems even the most diligent engineers can’t foresee.” I think MS needs to see that the consumer has the opportunity to purchase a computer with the option of using the proven, older OS or the new one and stress to the OEM that it’s important that the hardware be made to accommodate both versions in case the consumer wishes to go back to the tried and true. XP had a boatload of problems when it first came out and look how long it took before Microsoft finally got it working right. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there should be some kind of major overlap when a new OS comes out. Something that even a non-techie or non-geek can install, complete with drivers. (“so simple, a caveman can do it!”)

I can remember the first thing that was told to me by my professor in my Web site design/development class. It was the first rule of computers for him: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Always keep in mind that not everyone is computer savvy and make the design simple enough so that a first-time user won’t feel overwhelmed, but a tech-savvy person won’t be insulted. It’s a lot like writing… always take into consideration who your audience is.

Thanks again for all the good work and information you’ve been providing over the years. It’s been a real help.