Your chance to influence Media Center in Windows Vista
Microsoft’s Charlie Owen has an excellent response to Paul Thurrott’s recent “review” of a beta release of Windows Vista. Charlie’s post is long and detailed and gives an excellent flavor of how the development process works. He also calls for comments from people who are using the Windows Vista beta and from those who are merely looking at screen shots in these articles. This is your chance to provide feedback at a time when that feedback can make a real difference.
One point that Charlie makes deserves a wider audience:
[W]hile Windows Vista build 5231 does give you a sneak peek into Media Center it’s not what we consider to be the ‘best foot forward’ build. Take anything you see, hear or experience yourself with regards to Media Center with a grain of salt until it is actually launched. That’s when the all of the features will be in place and you will get a true sense for the user experience look and feel. In the meantime, keep the feedback coming on pre-release builds.
Paul’s so-called review appeared at the same time as another longish article in PC Magazine. In both cases, I am baffled at the use of the word review. The point of a review is to help you make a decision as to whether you want to buy or install a product, just as the point of a movie review is to help you decide whether you want to see a new film or skip it and spend your money on another release.
Windows Vista Build 5231 is an interim release that is available only to invited beta testers and developers in the MSDN program. If you’re in either of those categories, you have access to dedicated newsgroups and other places where you can gather information and exchange opinions with people. You also understand that this is an interim version of a beta release, which means, by definition, that the software is incomplete and is being distributed so that testers can provide feedback on specific features.
I don’t bother to write detailed posts on interim versions, because they have no value to the people who visit this site. If you’re capable of downloading the beta builds, you don’t need me to tell you about them. If you aren’t an invited beta tester, why should I waste your time telling you in excruciating detail about a product you can’t buy or use, and which is going to change dramatically in the next two months, when the public beta will probably be released, and in the next year, when the final version will be ready.
Charlie’s post is really good. Read it, and if you think he’s wrong, tell him. Your feedback can actually have an impact on the final version of Windows Vista, which makes it well worth reading.
As for “reviews” of software you can’t buy or use, why waste your time?