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Timing and Vista Woes for the Mobile Warrior




James Kendrick has had enough. A master of mobile technology, he’s been working with Vista on more mobile devices than I can keep track of. He’s put up a pretty scathing post on jkOnTheRun stating that that in his opinion Vista will never run well on mobile devices and it is one giant step backwards. His long post is summed up nicely in this excerpt:

The whole Vista mobile experience is very unstable and that is unsettling to anyone who needs to get their work done, and get it done now.  I don’t care how pretty the OS is or how much new sophisticated stuff is going on under the hood if it makes my performance unpredictable.  That is such a big step backwards that you have to wonder how it can be fixed in the short term.  I fear it can’t.  Say what you will about Windows XP the one thing it is on mobile devices is stable.  Rock-solid stable.  Can anyone say that about Vista on mobile PCs?  I have a very bad feeling about the immediate future of mobile computing on the Vista platform.  And that hits me where I live.

He mentions many of the issues that have been well chronicled here on the pages and forums of GBM and elsewhere, like docking and undocking (Rob’s post about this yesterday stirred up a small firestorm) and echoes my experiences with UMPCs and Vista quite well. Anything with one of the newer ““mobile” processors and limited to 1GB of memory is nothing short of frustrating running Vista. It is just an unsatisfactory experience on a UMPC, period. I’m actually thinking of selling the two UMPCs I own and waiting (probably in vain) for something better down the line.

If you read the commentary around the Internet, what little support there was for Vista is hemoraghing, and not just in the mobile sector. Intriguingly, XP is being talked about as some sort of mythical OS handed down from the gods. This puzzles me a little because while it was much more solid my memories are not quite that affectionate. Users and OEMs are joining the chattering classes by blasting Vista.

So, where did this all go wrong? In my opinion, timing. If you think back and look at the timing of events over the last 18 months, you quickly realize that there were two lines converging like runaway trains that depended far too much on each other to be successful given the delays we experienced. Vista got delayed with a major rebuild at a time that most of the mobile devices now on the market, and the processors that run them, were in development. OEMs had devices in the pipeline that they had to get to market to try and realize the investment they had already made. I can’t say I’m surprised that we’re seeing these issues with that marriage of hardware and OS. There was never enough time for a proper courtship. Remember Vista Ready? Remember Vista Capable? I think there’s even a class action lawsuit about those labels running round somewhere because they proved to be so off in some instances. Remember driver delays? I’m speculating that there is more to that story than we really know, and I still find it interesting that the two fixes that Microsoft released a short time ago seemed to solve many of my driver issues with printers and networking.

Several issues floating around don’t offer much promise for any relief anytime soon in the mobile sector.

  • The rush to the Intel’s Axx processor for mobile devices seems designed to answer the cry for more battery life in the absence of any advances in battery technology. We’ve seen several devices using these processors, and for mobile warriors who need a little oomph in their work, they really don’t offer a workable solution. Scarily enough, VIA is heading that way too (check out Frank Garcia’s recent post.)
  • And then there is that mythical SP1 that may or may not be floating around out there. Perhaps it offers hope in the future. Perhaps not. No one really knows.
  • A third issue is Microsoft’s realignment post Vista release. Players have been shuffled all over the deck at a time when many of these issues needed serious attention.

All of these add up to a major SNAFU in timing. From where I sit, I believe strongly that the development and manufacturing schedules are just completely out of whack on both hardware and software and until that realigns, we’re in for some continued frustration ahead.

Damn shame. 

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