Ballmer calls Vista a 'work in progress' during speech


Okay then. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently told a group of Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) that Vista is “a work in progress” and then asked, “Can we just sort of kiss that stone and move on? Because it turns out many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles.”

Here’s an excerpt from Ballmer’s speech, according to Ted Bishop at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,

Windows Vista: A work in progress. [Laughter, applause.] A very important piece of work, and I think we did a lot of things right, and I think we have a lot of things we need to learn from. Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases. Can we just sort of kiss that stone and move on? Because it turns out many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles. The design point, what you should be targeting. We can’t ever let that happen again. We had some things that we can’t just set the dial back, but I think people wish we could. Vista is bigger than XP. It’s going to stay bigger than XP. We have to make sure it doesn’t get bigger still, and that the performance and that the battery life and that the compatibility, we’re driving on the things that we need to drive hard to improve.

And yet, we did take some important big steps forward with Vista. So, I know I can get a lot of feedback from this crowd. The No. 1 point of feedback always for MVPs is on Windows. I know I can get a lot of feedback. I bet if I look I can get a little bit of good feedback. I’m sure I can get a lot of constructive feedback. And believe me, top of mind for me, for Ray [Ozzie], for the senior team here, is making sure that we continue to drive forward and take the good work that we did in Vista, take the chance for improvement and progress and drive forward.

In the meantime, we have some customers — a lot of customers — using Vista. A lot of customers. And we have a lot of customers that are choosing to stay with Windows XP. And as long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive and we will listen and we will hear that. I got a piece of mail from a customer the other day that talked about not being able to get XP anymore. We responded, XP is still available. And I know we’re going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available. We’ve got some opinions on that, we’ve expressed our views. .. I’m always interested in hearing from you on these and other issues. So the desktop business, it’s our heart, it’s our soul, we continue to drive forward from this foundation.

So you’ll notice that he didn’t say that Microsoft will be extending the availability of XP past the June 30th cutoff date, but he did acknowledge that he knows that people still want to be able to get XP. It also appears that this whole Windows 7 thing might be a reality as far as its launch date is concerned, given Ballmer’s “We can’t ever let that happen again” line referring to Vista’s five-year release cycle.

At any rate, I guess it’s nice to see some honest, candid comments from Ballmer about Vista — however horrifying they may be to paying consumers. Perhaps Microsoft’s just going to accelerate the development of Windows 7 instead of spending a lot of time on Vista. It may turn out to get swept under the rug like Windows ME (ME lasted less than two years). The big question for Microsoft will be whether or not to extend the life of XP out to the release of Windows 7 or to pull it from the shelves at the end of June after making sure that the current “work in progress” gets finished finally.