Anyone who knows about the history of Microsoft knows the company works best when challenged. While I can't imagine many reasons people would question XP vs. Vista, nobody can argue Microsoft has made a lot of stupid mistakes with this release. I foresee a change with Windows "7," tho. I'm expecting Windows "7" to be more focused on user experience and consumerisms than some of the previous releases. If not "7," then the follow-on release. Why? Because Apple is picking up steam.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Apple gets user interface design. Microsoft needs to take this to heart a bit more and strive to innovate on how users interact with the OS. I see this being the key differentiator in years to come. We've grown accustomed to the same old thing and I think we think there has to be a better way. I'm not saying today's computing experience is flawed. I merely think there's probably a better way to make the computer act like we do and predict our actions more than it does today... which is none. Microsoft started with Office 2007, so now it's time to do it with Windows.
Usability is one thing, but there's more to the equation. Let's face it, consumers have different needs than enterprises and Microsoft has seemingly put more effort in meeting enterprise needs than those of the consumer. How will Microsoft seek to improve on this? Today, I think the answer to that question is easy: Windows Live. The itch of the consumer is scratched with what comes in Windows Vista, but there's still much to be desired. What's the answer here? The growing suite of Windows Live products, of course. We're starting to see a one-to-one mapping of core Windows apps (i.e. mail and photo management) to Windows Live apps. Coincidence? I think not. Microsoft is treading new territory with the Windows Live suite, tho. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out over the next year or two; especially with the next release of Windows. With or without Windows Live, Windows is what needs to change to keep people from switching. Perhaps the Windows Live suite will replace what's built into Windows, perhaps not. I have to admit I can see that being a possibility. My only concern would be antitrust issues. Then again, most of the Windows Live apps I've used work with other services, as well, so maybe that won't be a problem. I imagine we simply need more of a plugin model or standardized service interfaces to augment that more for other service vendors. Hmm... maybe I'll stick with that. Windows Live being part of Windows just seems to make sense. With this, the software plus services (S+S) vision could almost be fully realized within Windows "7."