Microsoft’s equivalent to Duke Nukem Forever, Windows Vista, is caught between Scylla and Charybdis: if they delay, they’re facing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, the continued rise of Linux, OpenOffice.org, Firefox and other FOSS. If they ship on time, they’ll cement their reputation for shoddy software, find adoption slow and still face the continued rise of Linux, OpenOffice.org, Firefox and other FOSS :)
Update Sept. 26, 2007: So its a year later and the verdict is:
With each passing day, it’s becoming blatantly clear that Microsoft released Vista too early and the company’s continual mistakes and promises that can’t be kept are further annoying the Windows faithful. [...] Never before have I seen such an abysmal start to an operating system release. For almost a year, people have been adopting Vista and becoming incensed by how poorly it operates. Not only does it cost too much, it requires more to run than XP, there is still poor driver support, and that draconian licensing scheme is a by-product of Microsoft picking on the wrong people. [...] As a daily user of Mac OS X, Ubuntu and Vista, I’m keenly aware of what works and what doesn’t. Mac and Linux work.
Update October 4, 2007: Some comments from two posts by Chris Pirillo:
I’ve long contended that Vista itself is still very much acting like a beta. [...] I’m fed up with Windows… and I’m not alone. Microsoft dropped the ball in a very big way when they released something they never should have. They left themselves wide open to losing a very large number of people.
Everyone agrees that Vista was simply not ready for release when Microsoft let loose Vista on the general public. Unfortunately, we all also agree that it would take drastic overhauls to make Vista better.
Update March 21, 2008: An article titled “10 Things I Warned Microsoft About Windows Vista” sums up the disappointments of Vista fairly well.
Update April 17, 2008: An article discussing the bloatware that is Vista.
And speaking of…
Vista is a mediocre operating system, when Microsoft needed to release something great. Vista is to Windows XP what the old Elvis was to the younger one. Gray best sums up Vista’s perception problem in this sentence: “Forrester has spoken with dozens of companies that are internally debating the possibility of skipping Windows Vista entirely and going straight to the next release, known as ‘Windows 7.’” Considering that about six years separate XP and Vista, such willingness to wait even longer is sad commentary on Microsoft’s current Windows version.
Update April 24, 2008: John C. Dvorak writes of “Vista’s 11 Pillars of Failure“