A Vista Kind of Week
I wound up writing a lot about Vista this week. I spent Monday going back and forth to Microsoft events and my office, starting the day with a 9:15 am interview with Bill Gates, heading to Newsweek for an hour, then back across the street from where the interview was to the Cipriani restaurant, where Microsoft had a well-catered lunch with a Soviet-style presentation. (Ballmer and guys from Intel, AMD, Dell, HP, and Toshiba–maybe Dell CEO Kevin Rollins’s last public appearance since founder Michael Dell took his CEO job back later in the week.) Then back to the office (Times Square shuttle was getting old), and then to the Nokia Theatre–temporarily dubbed the Windows Vista Theatre–for the official launch. Before Gates and Ballmer came on, there was a Stomp-style performance by some percussionists, and then a group called Angels and Airwaves did a cover version of Joey Ramone’s cover version of “It’s a Wonderful World,” with lyrics tailored to tout Vista. After the Ballmer/Gates/demo presentation, the band returned. I actually thought they were pretty good but as loud as a band could possibly be. I mean LOUD. Among the antendees were some kids, probably members of some of the 50 “Vista families” who beta tested the OS while Microsoft anthropolgists watched their every move. (I met one of those families at CES, nice folks. They told me they didn’t get paid for their testing, but did get free pizza. I said that I hoped they could get all the toppings they wanted.) I hope that the kids didn’t suffer ear damage. I mean, these guys were The Who-in-1969 loud. I split.
Somewhere along the line, as best as I could tell, I might have lost my 80 gig iPod that day. Watch for a separate post on this tragic development.
As for my Newseek writing… I posted a review of Vista online on Tuesday, and on Thursday posted excerpts from my Gates interview, which was picked up a lot, mainly because he talked pretty frankly about Apple. (Hint: he is not enamored of those John Hodgman commercials.) And then I did my Technologist column for the print mag. Can’t forget those dead trees.
A lot of the response on the blogs about the interview as well as comments on Digg and Slashdot seem to be breaking down into Mac and Windows camps. But I do want to take issue with a blogger I respect a lot, John Gruber of Daring Fireball. In his post, he takes me to task for not engaging Gates at length about his claim that the Mac is being compromised every day. I have found that when one has limited time in an interview with someone like Bill Gates (not that there’s many like him), one’s time is better spent drawing out the genuinely interesting things that person has to say as opposed to engaging in lengthy debates on technical issues that almost certainly won’t be resolved on the spot. (That doesn’t mean I won’t repeat a question or push a point when I want to hear more on a certain issue, or I feel that persisting will be beneficial to the interview.) The interview was to focus on Vista, and I had some specific areas involving Gates’s thoughts and involvement in that OS (and the next!) that I hoped to cover. When Gates made those comments about the Mac. I understood that he was referring to the recent Month of Apple Bugs attack on the Mac OS. I didn’t have the results of every one of those attacks at my fingertips, but it’s clear that Gates wanted to make the point that, in his view, PCs were more secure with Vista, and Macintoshes weren’t impervious to attacks. His claim that Vista won’t suffer in a month what Mac suffers in a day pretty much stakes out how he sees things. In any case, here’s what happened when Todd Bishop, who does a great job covering Microsoft for the Seattle PI, tried to go deeper into the claim that Windows security was better than Mac’s (Bishop interviewed Gates the same morning I did):
Bishop: You really believe that?
Gates: Oh, absolutely.
Bishop: Because a lot of people would challenge you on that.
Gates: No, no serious security researcher would challenge that. You have to think about it coupled with Windows Update, where we’ve got a vigilance and a quickness of updating that you just don’t find other places. Both the operating system itself, and the service that we’ve created around that.
Gruber professes to worry about “the typical Newsweek reader” being misled by Gates’s claims. Spare me. I think that Newsweek’s online readers are smart enough to understand that Bill Gates is a passionate partisan of Microsoft, and to assess his comments on the competition in that spirit. In addition, I don’t really think, as some bloggers are suggesting, that I’ll immediately launch into a full scale Woodward and Bernstein (or Bruce Schneier) level investigation to acid-test the respective security claims of the Mac and PC. Are they asking for such articles because they feel they don’t know the answer, or because they feel that the result would confirm their beliefs?