Microsoft’s Annual Meeting and Vista
Last week Microsoft held its annual meeting for financial analysts and media. Attendees left the meeting with some questions about Vista’s release date. They also left with a few good laughs.
Vista comes with built-in speech recognition technology. At the meeting, a Vista product manager demonstrated how well it works.
He started by saying, “Dear Mom, comma”, which immediately came up on the screen as “Dear Aunt.” He then said “fix aunt”, which the computer recognition software interpreted as “let’s set.” From there the errors just kept coming. Ultimately the computer screen read “Dear Aunt, let’s set so double the killer delete select all”, much to the amusement of the audience.
CNBC ran a video of this, and Microsoft wasn’t happy. They claim ambient noise was the problem. All I can say after viewing the video is that seemed pretty quiet to me.
CNBC’s commentator ended by stating that it is no wonder Vista keeps getting delayed. This fit in pretty will with the view of financial analysts attending the meeting, who are still asking if Vista is going to be delayed again.
It’s not the video that kept them questioning the latest release date. According to Reuters and others, Kevin Johnson (co-president of Mircrosoft’s platforms and services unit) said at the annual meeting that Vista will be shipped when it is available. That ties in with earlier statements from Bill Gates confirming a 20% chance that Vista will be delayed. Gates said that if beta testing shows that Vista is not ready by the announced date, he will delay it because Microsoft wants to get this “absolutely right”.
So how well has Vista been working in Beta? Symantec (which you might remember suing Microsoft over storage technology), released a report on July 18 indicating that Vista has some major security flaws.
Symantec claims that the User Account Protection (UAP) feature has implementation flaws that could allow outside attacks. Another feature known as Mandatory Integrity Control could be exploited, allowing malicious users to take control of a PC that has been infected. These are just a couple of the issues reported by Symantec.
Of course, the point of beta testing is to find the flaws and fix them before the final release. PC Advisor quotes Stephen Toulouse, a Microsoft security program manager, as saying that Symantec’s reported issues were all addressed in Beta 2.
Still, with such a massive piece of software it would be difficult to get it “absolutely right”. The question will be how close to right Vista will be and when it will be released. The demonstration of their voice recognition software didn’t exactly bring comfort to those who are hoping for a product that is fairly close to problem-free.
After Vista is finally released, what happens next? Steve Ballmer concluded the annual Microsoft meeting by promising that there will never be a five year gap between major releases again. Apparently they won’t just “promise them to customers and hold up big releases.” This is probably a good thing. Frustrated Windows users all over the internet are saying they are considering not bothering to upgrade from XP at all.
There is no indication what to expect out of Vienna, the next scheduled flagship product.