Here’s the detailed account of Ed’s journey with the Vaio.
The above video should give you a pretty solid understanding, but if not, here’s the background:
- Had a Vaio, it was great, it got stolen.
- Bought a new Vaio ($2500 with insurance check), it ran Vista, it was terrible.
- Bought a MacBook 10 weeks later ($1100), it’s been great.
- Mocked the Vaio many many times until Ed Bott approached me, interested in seeing if he could fix its problems
- He did, it works great.
My thoughts on the matter, in no particular order:
- It’s not Vista per se, it’s the PC manufacturers who are failing to deliver consumer-ready products. If you have either an IT department or an Ed Bott, you can do fine. If you don’t, you’re in a heap of problems.
- PC manufacturers should massively separate the “home/consumer” group from the business groups. Further, there is a huge opportunity for a PC company to make a finely tuned, consumer-ready Vista laptop.
- Making a great laptop requires a minimal quantity of options. For reference, call Apple. If the MacBook had 44,000 possible combinations, it would be just as bad as any off-the-shelf PC notebook.
- This is a very classic Innovator’s Dilemma situation – “the market” is telling PC companies they want options, but the reality is they want easy to use, reliable, affordable computers.
Until a PC company follows any of this advice, Apple will continue to gain market share, and here’s why: Virtually all MacBook users today are happily recommending others to try MacBooks, with a predictable, reliable recommendation. PC users cannot as easily do the same. I had a great Vaio, then a terrible one. I’ve used Toshibas before (great – in the 90s), a Gateway (wasn’t bad), and 3 Dells now (one good, one bad, one ugly). But they are all vastly different.
Thanks and hats off to Mr. Ed Bott for putting in so much time with me. I’ve learned a lot from this process, and I sincerely recommend to any PC company who is listening: go spend some time talking to Ed and take his advice. If you really want to stop the slide (and trust me, the slide is happening even if the numbers you look at today seem like rounding errors), you need to get experts like him to better explain the consumer PC needs of today.
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Awesome job Jeremy and Ed! It sounds like it was a pretty painful experience but it was really interesting to see this come to a conclusion. The fact that it was a successful makes it even better.
Regarding the less is more philosophy, it’s all about tradeoffs- Apple is working in a closed environment (from a hardware standpoint) so you have to trade options/versatility for that sense of knowing exactly what you are getting. While there is certainly lots of appeal to something that just works, it is a limitation that is not for everyone. Ultimately, could the typical home user benefit from it? Probably.
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anyone with half a brain knows that dell/sony/hp etc.. etc.. all need to be formatted and a clean install of windows applied.
i have been doing this for years.. why would you expect vista to be any different coming from those suppliers!
Any interest in working on a low-end Dell?
Was it strange that I noticed the scotch bottle in every shot? Or was it just me…
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“Meh” – you completely miss the point. Normal users haven’t a clue about re-installing windows, or uninstalling “free” crapware. “anyone with half a brain” should be “anyone interested in computers”… amazingly not everybody is, and they just want to open the lid and hit the power button.
Sal – agreed, my point is that if a Dell or HP or Sony were to create one line with a very limited set of options, and highly tuned drivers, my hunch is they’d do extremely well with it. Leave the mega-customizer for the corporate/IT depts to deal with, but get it away from mom/pop.
meh – anyone with half a brain can barely walk, let alone install Vista. or were you being figurative?
Mom – we’ll do what we can
Jim – yes, good catch!
Rob – bingo!
If I could add another comment to meh…..I have more than half a brain, much more. The computer for me is not a way of life; it’s a way to keep in touch, read some stuff, look up information, etc. I don’t want to spend my time waiting for something to upload? download? and then try to figure something out in a language that I don’t understand in the first place. I didn’t grow up with this but it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have easy accessibility to information. Especially after spending quite a few dollars….I at least would like my money’s worth and right now don’t have it.
Jeremy, Gold – I moved my mom off Windows when her Compaq power supply died a few months ago. She’s been very happy on her new Mac Mini and my IT duties are much less these days. Prior to that, I was always futzing around using LogMeIn to resolve some issue or other. I actually thought about putting my Great Uncle on Ubuntu using a Live CD so he couldn’t mess it up but he could web surf and check AOL email (which is all he does).
OK, let’s say I do have skills and time to install fresh Vista. Question is how do I go about license key?
Laptops these days do not come with operation system installation media. And even if I happen to find Vista DVD, would OEM License Key from my laptop work? In XP OEM key does not work with random XP installation CD, I suspect Vista is the same. Does this mean having Vista OEM license key from preinstalled Vista I will have to buy another OEM or Retail Vista license?
It seems to me that PC manufacturers are suffering from the same dilemma as camera manufacturers. many of us know that the increasing megapixel count on compact cameras is causing unacceptable compromises in other areas and is a waste of time with the average compact lens, but Joe Public looking at two cameras says that camera a must be better ‘cos it’s got 12 megapixels when camera b has only 6, so camera a sells at the expense of camera b.
Likewise, Jo Public looks at two computers and thinks that computer a must be better because it comes with 600 packages pre-installed, not realising just what this implies in terms of (lack of) performance.
john williams: You’re right about digital cameras, but that’s not the reason, in this case. Most of the software that comes preinstalled on new machines these days is trialware, meaning that it only runs for a limited time or has a reduced feature set and proposes buying the full featured version.
The hardware manufacturers take money from the software vendors whose software they preinstall, and that money is calculated into the price of the machines. Look at Apples prices, and you know why they don’t have to do the same.
Of course, from the customers point of view, that’s a major annoyance. Let’s hope the hardware manufacturers will learn their lesson that earning too much from crapware in long terms means losing more from customer loss…
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I was interested in Meh’s comment about wiping and clean-installing Dell/Sony/HP etc notebooks.
I have been doing this regularly for some years, but felt myself to be quite unusual for doing so. Out of interest, about one third of those machines got linux while the the other two-thirds got Windows 2000 or (more recently) XP. However, in the past two years that ratio has shifted to about 50-50.
1. “PC manufacturers should massively separate the “home/consumer” group from the business groups.”
They do – Dell Latitude, IBM Thinkpad …
2. “Making a great laptop requires a minimal quantity of options.”
Total bullshit – a great laptop needs real choice = options that you can control (which is NOT what you get from Apple, but you are too fresh on that camp to see it, in a few years you will read pages like http://diveintomark.org/archives/2006/06/02/when-the-bough-breaks and ask yourself how could you possibly be so dumb as to not see the signs …
cucu – sorry, but you’re just off the mark here (and calling bullshit or telling me I’m dumb just deflect from your argument, by the way). The needs of the notebook user have changed – the average person no longer needs 48,000 combinations of options on a notebook. We’re so far past speeds & feeds.
This is exactly that “innovator’s dilemma” moment that PC manufacturers *must* recognize to continue sustaining market share. In a few years, those signs will become obvious, even to people who write denigrating messages like yours.
Gennady, with Vista, you can install from any retail media using no product key. Borrow a copy, download from Technet or MSDN, or use a copy from another machine. Then, after installation, us the activation option and enter the key from the sticker on your PC. You will not be able to activate automatically over the internet but you will be able to do so when you use the phone option. Takes six minutes, and that’s exactly what I did with Jeremy’s notebook in this case.
Completely agree about the Innovator’s Dilemma. I’ve been an omnivorous Windows/Linux guy for a *very* long time; had Macs (first a 128K Thin Mac, then a PowerTower Pro 225 and then…that was it for over a decade, until I got tired of all the mental masturbation required to make *either* Windows or Linux happy and working the way I wanted on my Acer and Lenovo laptops. We’ve known for years that to use Windows heavily on a daily basis essentially requires corporate-level technical support, plus a big hit out of the work week for maintenance. Linux has always had the advantage that the pain was all on the front end; once you got everything set, it (mostly) just kept working. That is, until the next time you do a major software upgrade. I run Ubuntu Gutsy on both laptops; when Hardy came out, I downloaded and burned the DVD, started updating my migration plan (I always do clean installs, not in-place upgrades), and then something funny happened. I got sick, then I got busy on a project that needed 110% attention for a couple of weeks, and then I noticed something. I wasn’t really excited about the possibility of taking myself offline for a day or two to install, restore, tweak and test both systems. I also was tired of small screens; staring into a monitor 16/7/365 for 25+ years is why I have -8.0-dioptre correction in the first place. So I bought a 24″ iMac. I haven’t been this jazzed about a computer since… somewhere between the PowerTower and Windows 95; either way, a long, LONG time ago.
Count me as part of your “rounding error”. The Rule of Tens strikes with a vengeance!
‘Same here, only with an Acer laptop. They come *loaded* with crapware. So I downloaded the necessary drivers from the website and burned them to disc. Then I used a *generic* Vista disc. Generic Vista caught almost all the devices save a couple or so, so most of the driver downloading wasn’t necessary. I installed them and it all works.
Afterwards, I realized I should install a more up-to-date ATI video driver as there was a minor glitch in the one that comes with Vista. No big deal.
But overall it was so easy .. and the difference! Wow. From slow slow slow to decent. And then I decided to install more RAM [‘went from 1 to 2 GB] and the thing now pretty much rocks.
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