Role reversal needed
As I understand it, Microsoft likes to dictate to the OEMs. And the OEMs and then we have to take whatever MS shovels out. And... this doesn't work well for two sides of this three-way.
Perhaps this latest string of releases - XP, Vista, W7 - will be the object example that wakes up the manufacturers to the threat to their bottom line. The manufacturers should realize that their long-term prospects are impacted by Microsoft's problems.
$work$ is still trying to decide what to do next. But I can speak from my own experience. The date rolled around this summer when OEMs could offer later upgrades to W7, and order #1 went in to Dell. Just ordered #2 yesterday. Later this week I'll do #3. These 3 replaced PCs were 8, 8, and 4 years old.
Dell might think it was any one of several reasons why I decided to replace the home office machines for myself and wife. But the truth should concern them greatly.
It wasn't age (aka replacement cycles). It wasn't money (aka "the economy"). It was what Microsoft had to offer. I wasn't going to disrupt my working environment (or my wife's) with a broken OS.
The OEMs' drought resulted purely from a lack of good output from Microsoft. There is no rejoicing in the parched land when the clouds open up with only "golden showers".
Now the OEMs will get a substantial bump from sales of new units provisioned with an acceptable OS. ('acceptable' is not an unabashed endorsement here) Perhaps it will be several quarters worth of good news.
But the cycle will come back around to the crux of the relationship between Microsoft and OEMs. Can OEMs require a minimum competence from MS?
Aren't the perennial questions in software development: when, how good, how much? Why is it that OEMs can't ask for some minimums with regard to those?
If 'when' is more than two years, the harvest will be blighted from the third year. if "how good" is "cracks your teeth" the sheaves will get the shove. if "how much" is "all we can tax" then other lands will receive the refugees.
Too often complaints about lack of competence from Microsoft are rejected using one rationale or another. Anyone noticing problems is discredited in one way or another. If a technical fault is noted, 'realities' are used to explain it. If a business flub is mentioned, technical difficulties are used to explain it.
I have to think that the OEMs have some position from which to speak and ought to start chiming in with a simple request for "good business sense". OEMs have a business to run and they must demonstrate basic competencies or fail. Their 'partners' must also be reliable in performance and products.
In all the ferocious arguments surrounding MS, and in too much of the inanity that that consisted of, where was the simple demand for salable products by Microsoft's partners, the OEMs?
If every criticism of Microsoft is laid to partisanship, if that remains the case, then Microsoft has no reason to do better. But if people make free with a straightforward "this is not how to run a good business", and it is apparent they have no political affiliation, perhaps the root cause can be recognized?
The grocer doesn't care about religious controversies over apples vs. mangoes. They do care when they are shipped nothing, or rotten and unsalable fruit, rejected by _their_ customers. Nothing to sell is nothing sold.
They need to stay in business, and if they can't switch suppliers, why can't they at least put signs in the front window, "no fruit for sale, last shipment by the MessrS not fit for purpose - please please come again".