Dvorak gets Windows 7 horribly wrong

John C. Dvorak has always been the P.T. Barnum of PC pundits, willing to write deliberately provocative things to draw attention to himself. But his most recent column in MarketWatch is an unfortunate example of how that tendency can go horribly wrong when it’s combined with factual errors.

Dvorak’s main thesis is pretty ho-hum stuff: Microsoft’s future rides on Windows 7. But then he drops this little bit of Barnum in there:

Microsoft may be pulling a fast one with the beta release because this is not the finished product. Let me explain.

As a beta program it probably does not have any of the security measures built into it the way a release product would. For one thing security is not too important with a beta product since hackers have not targeted it in any way, nor will they until the final product ships.

All that zippy performance that everyone is jacked up about will disappear once the burden of security precautions and patches begins.

For all we know the whole OS could turn into an incredible pig after this happens.

That is, to put it as kindly as possible, pure crap. The security features you see in the beta release of Windows 7 are those you will see in the final product. The idea that there’s a big pile of code being held back is ridiculous.

It’s really sad that some readers of this column (which is aimed at investors, not techies) will actually believe this nonsense. The question for me is, does Dvorak really believe this nonsense? In other words, is he cynical or senile?

Update: I just went back and read the column again. I was especially struck by how crude and juvenile the writing is. It’s similar to what I see in comment threads from anti-Microsoft zealots. I wonder if JCD is having this column ghost-written?

45 thoughts on “Dvorak gets Windows 7 horribly wrong

  1. Well said Ed….I believe it’s time for Mr. Dvorak to be put out to pasture. The worst part of this is that some of the “investors” will actually believe this stuff.

  2. While I don’t agree with Mr. D’s assumption, neither one of you have proof to the contrary of your assertions. We do know that Microsoft is introducing a few more features in between beta and release. Will any of those be security related? Maybe, and maybe not. Let the guessing continue.

  3. Well, his recent article was something about MS’s business model being over. So I guess he’s painted himself into a corner now and is just trying to be consistent. You’re right about the security stuff being pure crap. Don’t know what orifice he pulled that out of.

  4. Very odd to conclude that Microsoft would intentionally forgo the free testing they get with betas in order to surprise people with security features later.

    This phrase: “security measures built into it” in particular smells like someone who’s never written software before. Does he think there’s a a magic script to “securify” the app before it goes out the door, and they just don’t run it unless they’re doing a full release? It doesn’t make any sense. Even if that was how it worked, they’d lose a lot of valuable testing by doing so.

  5. I’m actually surprised that you read the column enough to comment on it.

    I gave up on Dvorak, what, about 20 years ago?

  6. John needs a sabbatical. His writing is deteriorating, seemingly with each new column. Where once I looked forward to his next article, I now approach with caution. He spews forth writing that at best is provocative but tired and lacks any fact checking.

  7. What’s sad is that I often times find myself agreeing with Dvorak’s opinions on TWiT podcast, but then he goes and write crap like this all the time.

    He could be really good if he just took the time research (or even think things through). It seems like when he actually knows what he’s talking about he can form a good opinion about it (even if it is childishly written sometimes).

  8. From experience I can also attest that Microsoft products actually get faster after the beta – not slower. They will release a product which has been built from the ground up to contain the proper security measures, but performance optimizations come later when the product is all hanging together nicely.

    So, just take a look at previous Betas and you will see the pattern of performance improvements not degradation.

  9. Dvorak doesn’t believe anything he says. He’s a curmudgeon and a (literal) character. He should be laughed with and at, and never taken seriously as a pundit.

  10. When some idiot quotes it as fact I can laugh them out of the room. Stuff like this makes it easier to spot an idiot.

  11. He has stated this as fact a few times on Cranky Geeks when other panelist have praised Windows 7 and I always think he does believe it but I can’t believe anybody would take him as a reliable source

    What does worry me a little is that Windows 7 is great on a clean build but when OEMS start adding their crap new machines will be slower than we are experiencing now

  12. Actualy, it is hard to say if Mr Dvorak will be correct on this or not.
    But any one arguing saying that this will not happen, take a look at Vista or WinXP, the beta versions of both of these ran a lot cleaner and faster then there current builds.

    Now I hope that Mr Dvorak is wrong, but look at Microsoft history before you start to argue that he is wrong.

  13. Am I the only one who thought of the Dvorak keyboard layout after seeing the headline here?
    Though it’s true that AV software and crapware tend to slow down computers a lot, what he’s saying is just ridiculous. Well despite his profound knowledge about Windows, at least we still get his idea – it’s not over till the lady sings.

  14. Dvorak has always tried to shock us with his revelations. I recall his article from early 2007 where he said this about the soon to be released iPhone:

    “What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a “reference design” and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures. (source: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/apple-should-pull-plug-iphone/story.aspx?guid=%7B3289E5E2-E67C-4395-8A8E-B94C1B480D4A%7D)

    Dvorak could be right though about Microsoft’s business model being over the hill and on the decline. They do have some challenges. Especially daunting is the fact that less than 10 percent of their enterprise customers have adopted Vista. These are arguably their most important customers. Will more than 10 percent of these customers have adopted Windows 7 three years from now? I rather doubt it.

  15. >”We do know that Microsoft is introducing a few more features in between beta and release.”

    Ummm, ever heard of RC1?

  16. Yeah, Dvorak is wrong more than he is right. Still, he’s great entertainment. His writing used to really strike a nerve, until I realized that he’s pretty much full of it. Now, I just chuckle and move on.
    @davesmall: About Vista or Win 7 adoption in the enterprise: go back and research XP. It took nearly FIVE years before XP really took off in the enterprise. Heck, the company I work for only upgraded to it about two years ago. Prior to that, we were a mixture of NT 4, Windows 2000 and….drum roll…Windows 98! We upgraded from Office 97 at about the same time. We are now going to Office 2007, but only because we are getting rid of Lotus Notes for email.
    Bottom line: corporations are a poor measure of how well an OS does and everyone seems to miss this point.

  17. I stopped paying attention to Dvorak sometime around 1994. Go and read some of his assertions about OS/2, they’ll make you laugh. Heck, they weren’t even plausible in 1994.

    There’s a sliver of hope on the OEM craplet front. It’s been traditional to bash Vista for stuff the OEMs installed, but the reviews for the 7 beta are so good that it might just make some reviewers think before they write. This might, just might, put some pressure on OEMs to deliver clean systems.

  18. @Geogray – You are probably right about the enterprise being slow to adopt anything.

    When I went to work for Westinghouse fresh out of college I was given a WWII vintage army green Steelcase metal desk. Most of the managers had the same issue. No one even thought about getting more modern furniture. Those old metal desks were functional and that’s all anyone in management cared about. “Fashionable” and “New” weren’t in the vocabulary.

    Probably the same way with computers and operating systems. They’ll more than likely keep running what they’ve got until someone gives them a compelling reason to upgrade. Does anyone see that in Windows 7?

  19. @davesmall:
    I think the larger issue-aside from compatibility-has to do with hardware. Typically, larger corporations lease machines on a two or three year cycle and those machines are not always the fastest or have adequate memory from day one. So, during that cycle, updating software-be it the operating system or anything else-may require additional resources that a company probably does not want to allocate. In addition, once a decision is made on upgrading, then a whole battery of tests must be done. This entire process can take quite a bit of time. There has to be quite a payoff for a company to do this.
    While Vista-FOR ME-was a compelling upgrade, it really did not make much sense for my company at the time. It does, however, make sense now.
    Windows 7 is even more compelling and I suspect it’s barrier to entry will be substantially lower than Vista and may be adapted much more quickly.

  20. Dvorak writes for so many publications so often that, of course, he puts out pure crap. There is not enough real reporting to do for a new factual story every other day to print up 1000 words on each.

  21. as a microsoft beta tester, i can tell you that the UAC works better than it did in vista to the point you no longer want to just TURN IT OFF. And vista has plenty of security features built in. However it is true that the licensing scheme is not the final one. The realease HAS been targeted by hackers and there are plenty of iso downloads on the internet with vista code patched into it to keep it registered.

  22. As far as I can see, Dvorak only writes for PCMag and Marketwatch, a far cry from the 20 or so he used to write for. However, he is doing the tiresome tech writer’s trick of using Linux when they run out of ideas for proper columns.

  23. I used to read him pretty regularly, because I enjoyed his “firestarter” attitude, even if I didn’t always think his columns were notable.

    I think the same is true in the column you reference. I also think he could have made use of some qualifiers (“sometimes,” “usually,” “rarely”).

    Having said that, while he may be careless in his expression at times, I agree that “beta” means just that — NOT production and therefore, not finished. Maybe nothing more will be added to Windows 7; and I haven’t downloaded it, so it may really be everything that you say. But it hasn’t been released to manufacturing.

    And, frankly, just because you say the security features are finalized doesn’t make you any more (or less) believable than Dvorak.

  24. Wow, and here I thought Mac fan-boys were bad. Zealots are zealots, whether it religion or equipment apparently….

  25. Most of the security feature we see in Windows 7 is already built in Windows Vista. Although their saying security is much better in Windows 7. Could someone please explain why Windows 7 security is much better than Windows Vista when their almost identical.

  26. Dvorak may be wrong (or whatever more-colorful phrase you prefer). But at least he’s almost always interesting and original. His blogs read like a magazine/newspaper column than, rather than a glorified forum posting.

    And Hylen’s link (if you follow it the actual content) kind of puts his rants in perspective. Basically, they’re saying his outrageous comments are just another marketing ploy, just like that a teen with 50 piercings and neon green hair.

  27. Dvorak says something outrageous that irritates the shills and fanbois (whether they shill for Apple or Microsoft). WOW, that’s a shocker! He’s an entertaining blowhard who’s more right about tech trends than some would like to admit.

    If you’re so sensitive as to get offended at his pointed writing style, stop reading his stuff and try not to cry into your soy latte.

    On a more positive note, Microsoft was brilliant to release the beta. Leo Laporte (a huge Mac fan) LOVES Windows 7 and has nothing but praise for it. Who knows? Maybe it’ll convert a few Macheads…

    1. I take my lattes nonfat, thanks, and I make ’em myself. I’m not “offended at his pointed writing style” but rather disappointed by an obvious factual error from someone who should know much better.

  28. I don’t understand why you think his remarks are invalid?

    You think Microsoft has a good track record of performance improvements with it’s patches? All you have to do is google “windows patches slow performance” and there are tons of complaints about poor performance after patching.

    Oh, and calling someone else’s writing crude and juvenile is crude and juvenile.

    1. Stilgar, go back and read what Dvorak wrote and then what I wrote. JCD is claiming, with no factual backing or support, that Microsoft is “pulling a fast one” by leaving major security features out of its beta release, which it will then add later, causing performance slowdowns. Anyone who understands how an OS is built would know this is ludicrous.

  29. I am a software engineer. It’s not uncommon for beta builds to have lots of code commented out because it’s not stable enough for release in the beta.

    Now, I don’t know that MS is leaving out “major security features” or not in their betas, but it’s not unreasonable to think that there are features left out of current beta builds.

    The fact of the matter is that neither you nor Dvorak know what the final performance of Windows 7 will be like until it’s on store shelves and the service packs and patches start rolling out.

    Maybe it’d be worth while to dig up a copy of a Vista beta and see how well the performance compares to a current, patched install of the OS.

  30. #35 Ed, so you don’t deny crying into your lattes? 🙂 Kidding of course (and I was not referring to you for what it’s worth)…I pegged you more as a drip coffee with Cremora type of guy but, hey, live and let live.

    Anyway, there’s much work that has been done and more to be done on Win7 before it’s released so we’ll see. MS needs a win with 7 after the PR faux pas with Vista (which works well for me). After all, competition is good thing and a great MS OS will kick Apple in the butt which will drive innovation for all as the wrong-headed negative perceptions of Vista have driven MS to do something great. And yes, MS Win7 is great now and I hope it stays great…

    Stilgar is right…who knows what will be released. Let’s hope MS knocks this one out of the park….

  31. I agree with SpragueD.

    John Dvorak hasn’t been relevant in years. I’m surprised he’s still out there writing.

    As for Windows 7, other than dealing with some driver issues, it’s already in shape to hit the store shelves. Microsoft has a big win coming here.

  32. According to the latest performance test carried out by Adrian at ZDNET: http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=3857, I think the people worrying about a lot of code being held back should be surprised. As the builds are advancing, performance is actually getting better. I agree the current build – 7057 is not near RTM or RC1 for that matter, but surely you wouldnt think that MS is stripping out more and more code with each successive build just to make it go faster? I feel stupid for even counter suggesting such a thing. And mind you, when MS publicly claimed that current generation of netbooks would be able to run all editions of Windows 7, then they were aware of the PR mistakes committed at the time of Vista, and this time they really mean it when they say that minimum system requirements are a 1GHz Processor and 1 GB RAM.

  33. “The idea that there’s a big pile of code being held back is ridiculous.”

    then why not release the final product rather than having an open beta then?

    I think this is simply you becoming scared of any criticisms directed at your ‘hand that feeds’ Mr Botts, it is obvious that you are simply advocating a new product that will obviously provide you revenue streams.

    1. Ex, are you trying to sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about? The beta is about two things: (1) allowing people outside Microsoft to evaluate a new product and (2) allowing Microsoft to get feedback and identify bugs on that product. The second goal is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve until you have delivered all of the main portions of the code. The final bug testing is about fixing small problems, of which there may be thousands.

      As for your comments about my revenue stream, you sure do make a lot of assumptions about what I do for a living. You’re wrong. Yes, I’m in the process of writing Windows 7 Inside Out. If you were a regular visitor here rather than a drive-by sniper you would know that. But I do much more than write books these days. Regular visitors here already know that.

  34. “drive-by sniper”?

    Snipers do not perform drive by shootings, the whole point of a sniper is a gunman that positions themselves in a static position and waits for the ability to have a 1 shot kill.

    1. I was thinking more of this definition: “one who attacks a person or a person’s work with petulant or snide criticism, esp. anonymously or from a safe distance.”

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