Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vista uber alles

Microsoft has always been about volumes, and increasingly its focus is on links to the consumer electronics world. The company put out some stunning stats in a Wednesday keynote at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference.

* Windows Vista shipped with 20,000 device drivers in the box, twice the number of XP.

* The Windows Update online service provides Vista drivers for another 13,000 devices.

* 1.5 million systems were certified to work with Vista when it was released in November 2006.

* Another 400,000 systems have been certified for Vista since then.

* Microsoft has shipped 40 million copies of Vista since it was released in November.

I have had a hard time getting the big picture on Microsoft's approach to linking with the world of consumer devices, one of many recurring themes at WinHEC. Bill Gates gave significant time to Rally, Vista software that can be embedded in peripherals and consumer devices to make them easier to recognize on a home network. Gates made a passing reference to Microsoft's Pica (aka Windows Media Extender) software that can be embedded in TVs and other devices to let them send display data from one system to another in the home.

Other sessions talked about the new Windows Portable Devices software that includes its Media Transport Protocol soon to be a standard from the USB Implementers Forum. WPD represents a new effort to roll up into one package various efforts to link cellphones, digital cameras and media players to Vista.

My sense is this messy bouquet of consumer embedded software for Vista is the byproduct of the company's design philosophy. Microsoft tends to "let a thousand flowers bloom" as the Chinese say, assigning a battery of middle managers to a variety of interesting initiatives and harvesting the ones that work out. I'm guessing this must look pretty confusing from the standpoint of a Sony or Matsushita.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always find the numbers game to be pointless in the end. When people count of device drivers, they are really counting multiple versions of the same device driver. Same often goes for devices. When you look at any client or server, you find there really aren't that many drivers or devices in any platform and the diversity is rather small these days and getting smaller all the time.