New rule: Any software Microsoft releases must run on Windows Vista.
You’d think that would be obvious, for a company that has bet the farm on its upcoming upgrade. But apparently some folks haven’t yet gotten the memo. Today’s example is this week’s update to the SyncToy utility:
SyncToy is a free PowerToy for Microsoft Windows XP that provides an easy to use, highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different directories. Most common operations can be performed with just a few clicks of the mouse, and additional customization is available without added complexity. SyncToy can manage multiple sets of folders at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another. Unlike other applications, SyncToy actually keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.
I wrote approvingly about SyncToy when it came out last August. And this release (version 1.2) fixes probably the biggest issue with the original release, which was the inability to use UNC network paths.
But even though this is an unsupported power toy (hosted on Microsoft servers, officially announced via the Microsoft Downloads list), I have to take issue with the team that released it. Why on earth should Microsoft be releasing any utility that doesn’t work with Windows Vista? Yes, I know its official name includes the words “for Windows XP.” But there are plenty of Windows XP-compatible apps that work just fine on Windows Vista. This one doesn’t. And it doesn’t just fail, it fails ugly, with a series of increasingly cryptic error messages that end with the program refusing to run.
Sometime next month, Microsoft is going to release a public beta of Windows Vista that will be installed by hundreds of thousands of people. If they download a six-week-old utility from Microsoft’s website, they should expect it to work. And if Microsoft programmers can’t get it together to think six weeks ahead, how can they expect third-party developers to do so?
Microsoft’s other synchronization utility, FolderShare, works just fine with Vista. Maybe Robert Scoble needs to bring his video camera over to both teams and find out why one group has a clue and the other doesn’t.