Windows XP and the importance of listening to customers
On June 30, Microsoft will discontinue Windows XP in an
effort to force all PC users onto Windows Vista. As this date gets closer and
closer, they have stubbornly insisted that they will not change their plans.
Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer blinked,
but in a rather confusing way:
- The sensible part: Ballmer claimed that they might
reconsider their decision if that's what customers wanted.
- The confusing part: Ballmer appeared to be completely
ignorant of the multitudes of people publicly begging for XP to get a stay
Just want kind of customer feedback would Ballmer be able to
It's really not that hard to find overwhelming evidence of
large numbers of people who want to continue using XP. A simple Google search
for the string "save
windows XP" results in over 200 thousand hits.
Oh yeah, I forgot -- Steve probably doesn't use Google. Maybe
the problem is that he just can't find any XP fans on the Internets? :-)
Or maybe Ballmer is following the now fashionable trend of
counting an Internet person as only 3/5 of a real person?
- Sure, Ron Paul has lots of fanatical supporters, but they're
mostly just people on the Internet, and they don't really count.
- Sure, Barack Obama has raised truckloads of money, but he
mostly gets it from people on the Internet, and they don't really count.
- Sure, over 170 thousand people have signed the Save Windows XP petition,
but those people are on the Internet, so they don't really count.
Or maybe this is simply the most arrogant corporate decision
in history? Maybe Steve can hear all of these desperate cries but he simply
Power corrupts. Every monstrously large organization
eventually turns into, well, a monster. The next step is for all these
organizations to start borrowing each other's tactics. Hey Steve, why not
start waterboarding everybody who won't switch to Windows Vista? Apparently
it's legal. :-)
The whole situation is most annoying to those of us who are
running small software companies. Unlike Microsoft, we actually have to listen
to our customers. When they tell us to jump, we ask how high.
Microsoft is telling millions of its customers to jump. Out
of principle, I am doing my best not to comply:
- I'm typing this blog entry on Windows XP.
- That instance of Windows XP is actually a VMware image
running on my Mac. I started using a MacBook Pro with Leopard a couple
months ago. And I love it.
- I just donated fifty bucks to the ReactOS project. I'm figuring that in
the long run, I've got a better chance of getting Windows XP from ReactOS
than from Redmond.
Some of my readers are horrified at this blog entry. "But
Eric, aren't you a .NET developer?"
Yes, I am. My overall posture toward Microsoft is still
friendly. I still use Windows every day. I still love Visual Studio. C# is
still my favorite language ever. Heck, I'm even a big WPF fan, so I'd actually
prefer to see the world switch to Vista. I've used Vista, and while I didn't
find it to be a compelling "must-have" upgrade, I rather liked it.
But none of this means that I'm going to give my blanket
agreement to every decision Microsoft makes. In this case, I object to
Microsoft's plan, not because Vista is so awful, but rather, because ignoring
customers is so wrong.