Michael Gartenberg poses a simple question – “Are OEM’s Hurting Vista?”:
“The notion of the OEM eco system has been integral to the success of the Microsoft’s OS strategies in the past but lately I’m wondering if some OEMs are hurting Microsoft’s efforts rather than helping them. I recently received a system from an OEM for review that was so loaded with junk, including ads in the sidebar that it took nearly four minutes to boot and more than 80% of the hard drive was filled. And I mean filled, including an install on SQL server on a consumer build (I’m sure there was a reason for it but it eludes me to this day), Other OEMs have audacity to CHARGE for not installing junk on their PCs, makes you wonder if Tony Soprano is in charge of marketing (pay us, or we’ll make your PC unusable). Other vendors ship machines underpowered for a particular Vista SKU or have buggy drivers installed. I’m fortunate to use Vista on several machines that have all be designed to work with the OS, have drivers that work and come from vendors who ship proper SKUs for the proper machine and don’t install a lot of junk. When you get that experience, Vista is great and a worthy upgrade to XP but that’s not the experience a lot of folks seem to have.”
This is a massive problem for Microsoft: it no longer has even a semblance of control over the user experience of its products. And no matter how much it attempts to encourage, cajole and even control its putative allies in the OEM business, the less they seem to respond to it.
The obvious contrast is with Apple which controls hardware and software and exerts huge (and occasionally not benevolent) influence over its software and hardware partners. This long-term gambit, one which steered the company into when he killed off the clone programme, is paying off.