With Microsoft, the incident seems almost routine -- there is a reason that many (including me) avoid dot-oh releases from the company. But with the disaster that was known as Vista and the critical need to keep people happy (as well as the common sense realization that the new version would get a big pick-up from all who had passed on the previous one), you'd think that the company would have exercised extraordinary care with Windows 7. And, to be fair, something as complex as an operating system is a tough thing to thoroughly debug, even if the company significantly changed the way it was doing development.
But we're talking about the marketplace, and fair doesn't apply. People want a good experience, and if you can't guarantee it, there may be problems. Microsoft is far from the guarantee stage. There are plenty of reports of major upgrade failures. And the problems don't stop there. From DVD drives not found and iPhones not synching to missing applets, there are already "common" Windows 7 problems.
In comparison, Apple did relatively well in two recent product launches. But when you trade on user-friendliness, potentially major oversights are something to be avoided. The most recent version of Mac OS, Snow Leopard, has seen a number of problems:
- Personal data could go missing after users logged into the guest account. But although the problem was first publicly noticed in early September, Apple didn't bother to acknowledge it until the middle of October, and didn't have a fix ready even then.
- Some people have found that some mobile broadband dongles haven't been working with Snow Leopard.
- There are other conflicts with software, like the PhotoStitch panorama editing tool from Canon. In fact, Apple has a list of incompatible software, though it doesn't mention PhotoStitch, so you have to wonder what else isn't listed.
- There are rumors that Snow Leopard breaks support for Intel's Atom processor.
- There is evidence that it "prevents users from opening multiple recently downloaded files simultaneously."
Operating systems aside for the moment, there's also the new version of Apple TV. The company had to tell people to immediately upgrade to 3.0.1 to keep content from temporarily disappearing. And even then, the update didn't address other problems that arrived with the new version, including "periodic freezes, random restarts, overheating, sluggishness, disappearing networks, screens going 'blocky red', etc."
Why is it that to of the biggest companies in computer products deliver new versions of existing products that don't work out of the box as advertised, or as users might reasonably expect? Is it that they can't? Or that they don't bother?
Image via stock.xchng user actruncale, site standard license.