Vista, we hardly notice ye

You know, I was just realizing how small the buzz about Microsoft’s new Vista operating system seems to be. There are the usual reviews and so forth, but no one seems to be particularly excited one way or the other. The non-story about Microsoft’s PR company giving out review laptops is getting play in the blogosphere because there’s not much else to talk about.

(Earth to bloggers: tech companies have been distributing review units to journalists, and analysts, and trade press, and user groups, and informal “influencers,” and so on, forever. The mainstream media you love to diss are actually the only ones who tend to have ethics rules and transparency about this stuff. If you want the blogosphere to do better, spend some energy developing ethics standards and best practices, so that every blogger doesn’t have to make up their own rules.)

Anyway, my point is that, whether it’s a great OS or not, Vista just isn’t that big a deal to most people in the tech world. And that’s a story. I remember when Windows 95 can out. It dominated not just to formal news coverage but the informal discussions for months. After all, we’re talking about a piece of software that, sooner or later, something like a billion people are going to use. Even when Microsoft just adds a feature Apple already had in OSX, it has a greater impact.

It’s probably best for Microsoft to be relatively ignored (and I stress that this is relative). The company is going through a wrenching transition from software to Web-based services, even as it transitions away from Bill Gates’ leadership and prepares for the day when Steve Ballmer hands over the CEO title. Let Google get the attention for a while, as Microsoft tries to execute its pivot.