It’s only May, but I already know one nominee for stupidest tech product of the year.

Running Windows XP, the Eee Keyboard packs an entire computer — complete with an Intel Atom N270 processor at 1.6 GHz, 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, Wi-Fi b/g/n, HDMI out, built-in 5″ WVGA multitouch display and a battery rated for 4 hours — into the pretty tiny frame of a keyboard. Want in? That’ll be $599.

At $99 it’d be ridiculous. At $600, words fail me.

It’s only May, but I already know one nominee for stupidest tech product of the year.

Running Windows XP, the Eee Keyboard packs an entire computer — complete with an Intel Atom N270 processor at 1.6 GHz, 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, Wi-Fi b/g/n, HDMI out, built-in 5″ WVGA multitouch display and a battery rated for 4 hours — into the pretty tiny frame of a keyboard. Want in? That’ll be $599.

At $99 it’d be ridiculous. At $600, words fail me.

Microsoft Does Good: Windows 7 Upgrade Program

windows-7A lot is being made of the leaked Best Buy memo that outlines Microsoft’s Windows 7 upgrade program. It looks very good, but some of the story doesn’t seem to be getting out, so I’ll add my $.02.

Keep in mind that the Best Buy memo has not been confirmed. I think it’s reasonable, so I’m proceeding from the notion it does in fact outline some of Microsoft’s plans for Windows 7 upgrades.

New PCs

It was obvious to anyone whose been there that a line would be drawn on the calendar by Microsoft after which buying a new PC would entitle you to a free upgrade to the new OS. Typically, that line is drawn maybe a couple months before release, so I was expecting it to be around late August.

The problem is, that would bypass the back to school season. Most PCs for back to school are not bought at the last minute — in September — they’re bought over the Summer. By setting the cutoff date to June 26, with one brilliant stroke Microsoft has eliminated, as much as possible, any effect waiting for Windows 7 may have had on a back to school purchase.

Yes, this means MS is giving away free Windows 7’s for four entire months of PC sales, but with Vista’s bad reputation it was a great bone to throw new student shoppers, especially with the economy as it is. Very smart. Microsoft clearly means business with Windows 7.

Upgrades

For those who already have a qualifying Vista version, Microsoft is making available on the same date (6/26) a “presell” of Windows 7. It’s only $49 for the upgrade to 7 Home Premium, and $99 for Professional. Sweet.

If you have a qualifying Vista release, in my opinion it’s an absolute no-brainer to spend the $49 or $99 for the upgrade. Run, don’t walk to your nearest dealer and get this!

The bad news about the “presell” is that it’s only until July 11. Just 16 days. Don’t delay on this, get it while you can.

Not Just Best Buy

The memo makes it clear this isn’t just be a Best Buy gig: “Other retailers will also offer the presell…”. So you should be able to find a local dealer or online outlet to take advantage of the upgrade offerings.

What About XP?

The memo doesn’t really make it clear. While the PC guarantee is Vista only (pretty much all new PCs come with a Vista license anyway), I’m not sure about the “presell”.

I know Microsoft is making available “upgrades” from XP to Windows 7 (though a clean install must be performed, Windows 7 won’t upgrade XP “in place”), but I’ve heard nothing about pricing. I’m not sure what will be in store for XP users (like me) in terms of “upgrade” pricing.

Microsoft may feel you used XP up to eight years; you got your money’s worth, so they don’t owe you much in terms of a price break. They may also feel the “presell” offer is a way to potentially reward Vista users who suffered through that OS (whether they actually suffered or not). In a way, I can see either point. I think we’ll have to wait to see what, if anything, Microsoft will do in terms of price breaks for XP “upgrades” to Windows 7.

Bottom Line

XP aside, the new PC guarantee is great news no matter how you analyze it. So is the “presell” for savvy Vista shoppers who know about the limited availability and snap it up in time.

These moves are bold enough for me to hope Microsoft opens themselves up for those 16 days and lets XP users in on the “presell” too, but I’ll have to see confirmation on that.

If XP is not included, well, that’s roughly two-thirds of Windows’ installed base. Let’s hope Microsoft finds a way to treat us right, and not simply use us to fund the excellent Vista upgrade offers.

Windows SuperSite on the XP and Vista Conundrum.

The Windows SuperSite, in an article about Windows XP SP3 being “good enough”, discusses the “Windows XP and the Vista conundrum“:

I mean, imagine a case in which customers were allowed to choose between a previous generation Toyota Camry and the all-new, designed-from-the-ground-up 2008 model, and the customers actually chose the old version by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, despite the fact that the price hadn’t changed at all?

If that happened, the automotive press would be nearly unanimous in their conclusion that the new Camry sucks and is totally out of touch with what consumers want. Further, they’d be clear in their criticisms of Toyota.

For their part, Toyota may or may not choose to admit their blunder, or instead blame third-party suppliers, the press, and perhaps the customers themselves.

With Vista and the tech world, however, while most of the tech press knows it’s a disaster, Microsoft and their shills have admitted little more than a bare minimum of responsibility. Instead, it’s bad marketing. Or price. Or third-party drivers. Or nothing a Service Pack can’t fix. Or hardware. Or exaggerated reporting. Or just a perception issue.

And, apparently, it’s also those darn customers not wanting to move forward — as if they really wanted to wallow in a seven-year-old OS!

Whatever. The scenario the SuperSite describes will not occur because Toyota will not screw up their latest and greatest as badly as Microsoft completely and totally screwed the pooch on Vista.

Saving Windows XP.

save_xp.png

There’s an InfoWorld web site all about saving Windows XP from its “fate” of being discontinued come June 30 this year — complete with a countdown clock.

Lots of other articles and links on the site; they even have a petition to sign:

Please complete this petition so we can add your name to those who want Microsoft to keep Windows XP available indefinitely, rather than force users to upgrade to Windows Vista. With your support, we can convince Microsoft to spare XP’s fate of being discontinued on June 30, 2008.

As of this writing, over 41,000 people have signed it.

I’m sure there are many who think this is a great thing for Windows XP. That it shows what a good OS it is, how much users love it, etc.

But, honestly, I can’t think of a greater statement for just what a steaming pile of fecal matter Vista must be — or at least perceived to be — than for over 40 thousand people (and counting) to desperately want to continue using a nearly seven-year-old OS.

As I wrote not long ago, it’s clear Vista is not selling worth a darn. Certainly not when viewed against the number of PCs sold last year. And now we see campaigns such as this that emphasize the point about just how unwanted Vista really is.

Forget Microsoft, who obviously didn’t see this coming, but could anyone possibly have envisioned what a total disappointment Vista would be? Wow.