On the elevator to my hotel room, a 20-something man, too tanned and relaxed to be in the tech industry, spied the massive logo on the shopping bag-like tote that Microsoft doled out at its Professional Developer's Conference. "Windows 7, huh?"
"There's always another one," I said.
Without missing a beat, he replied dryly, "They need another one." This gentleman is not a registered PC. Ironically, my tote's straps were tied around the handle of a less ostentatious rolling bag that cradles a new unibody MacBook Pro. Some things aren't worth getting into in an elevator.
It's really difficult for a savvy user not to bring a cynical, or at least skeptical, viewpoint to Windows 7 after the foot-shooting that was pre-SP1 Vista. What many end-users will see in Windows 7 is an effort to Mac-ify Windows, right down to enabling multitouch gestures on Tablet PCs, and copying Apple is instant, certain buzzkill.
[ See Tom Yager's first look at Windows 7 | Join the Windows 7 conversation in Randall C. Kennedy's Windows Sentinel blog | For more news from Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, check out InfoWorld's special report ]
Apple claims that Microsoft is suffering a drought of original ideas. Reading between the lines, Microsoft counters that Vista, before Service Pack 1 (it's proud of SP1 and later), was a mess for many reasons, but in part because every yahoo on the Internet was invited to transmit his gripes and fantasies directly to Microsoft product managers, who were then duty-bound to take them seriously.
Look, don't listen
That probably works when you're architecting the next rev of SQL Server, because the only people who supply feedback are those with specific expertise. Poll the public at large about what it wants from a client operating system, and you end up with a lot of data that can't be parsed definitively. I've put that too kindly. It's like trying to diagnose a hypochondriac's true ills based on self-reporting of his perceived ailments. It just wastes the time of people who have better uses for it. It's better to tell the patient to shut up and get the story directly from his body and blood.