Vista (in)Capable: New price, same old ****

Microsoft have never before slashed the price of its own operating system

Stop the presses: Windows Vista Ultimate is now cheaper than ever!

Yes, Microsoft has done something I can't remember ever doing before: it slashed the price of its own operating system. You can now upgrade your XP machine to Vista Home Premium for only $199 (versus $299) or to Vista Ultimate for $399 -- a $96 saving, order yours today!!!

I don't think my heart can take all this excitement. But Cringester BD puts it in perspective nicely:

Let me get this straight: I get a price cut on an OS upgrade that will not run on the computer I purchased just one year prior to the Vista release? I think I will run out right now and not buy a copy.

It's hard to suss out what the Redmond Radicals were thinking with this price cut. Microsoft won't release the figures, but it's safe to say the vast majority of the 100 million copies of Vista foisted unto an undeserving world came pre-installed on machines. The relatively few intrepid souls who upgraded older machines to Vista did so mostly out of curiosity, not necessity. Surely there can't be many of those suckers people left. So why cut prices now?

There are two schools of thought. One is that this price cut is really about the international market. Vista prices in poorer countries will drop closer to 50 per cent -- though, given Vista's costly hardware requirements I don't see how it's going to make a difference. (Hey, you can upgrade to Vista or you can feed your family for three months. Your choice.)

The other theory is that this is a pitiful attempt to distract attention from the emails that surfaced last week in the "Vista capable" class action suit. You remember, the ones where MSFT's own executives thought Vista was such a turkey they considered bundling it with giblets and cranberry sauce?

If you believe a 20 to 30 per cent price cut will wash away that delicious memory, I've got an operating system to sell you.

The problems with Vista are simple: a series of stupid marketing decisions by Microsoft and general apathy by vendors, who've been dragged down this road by Microsoft so many times that they weren't really motivated to rewrite their stuff from the ground up to support Vista. As those emails reveal, given how Microsoft treated longtime partners like HP (while kissing Intel's muscular buttocks), who could blame them?

Bottom line: Stupidity is expensive, no matter what price tag you slap on it.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
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