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Pay no attention to the pop-up box behind the curtain

Bill Clinton may be the world’s champion when it comes to parsing words and phrases to suit his own purposes, but to give credit where credit is due, executives from software companies are making up ground in this race quickly. One prime example of this is the reaction from a Microsoft executive in a recent story by our Bill Brenner on Vista deployments challenges. Users have roundly criticized the User Account Control technology in Vista for its propensity to throw pop-up boxes at users constantly. This, and other Vista quirks, have led quite a few enterprises to put off their Vista roll-outs until after SP1 at the earliest. Microsoft’s answer to this was both odd and instructive, I think:

Shanen Boettcher, general manager of Windows client product management at Microsoft, doesn’t deny there have been problems. But if the sales figures are any indication, he said, the first year of Vista has been a success.

In addition to having sold 88 million copies of Vista, he said, more than 42 million PCs are now licensed under volume licensing agreements, demonstrating that businesses are buying into the long-term value of Vista.

In other words, as long as the thing is selling, we’re good. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of those sales figures to see how many copies were pre-installed on new PCs and how many were shrinkwrapped. The feeling I get from IT folks is that right now they’re only upgrading to Vista when they have to buy new machines, not by choice. Enterprises tend to move pretty slowly on deployments of major new products like this anyway. Microsoft has, in fact, made a number of changes to the way that UAC behaves in response to user feedback. But it’s interesting that the executive’s first reaction to questions about problems with UAC and other Vista features is, Hey, look how many copies we’ve sold.

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