In case your not a regular Squash-ee or else haven't picked it up along the way, my tiny, tiny little niche area of authority that I've been fortunate to build a business on is the Australian technology media.
So it always warms the cockles of me heart when an Aussie IT journo (which is Aussie/Brit slang for journalist btw) breaks a story big enough to warrant them significant attention in the big, worldwide blogosphere. I kinda feel like a parent who's kid just hit a home run (in Australia of course, that would translate to hitting a six).
Tonight, one particular Australian tech hack is at the very centre of the blogosphere's hot story of the moment. Although, the jury is still out on whether he's hit a homer or if he's taken a wild air swing.
That journalist is David Richards, who penned the now infamous 60% Of Windows Vista Code To Be Rewritten story. Today, he updated his story with quotes from the marketing director of Acer Australa who "confirmed independently of SmartHouse Magazine that Microsoft is having major problems with its Vista operating system".
However, Microsoft blogger and evangelist Robert Scoble wants Richards sacked.
Whenever you see a story that says 60% of any OS is gonna be rewritten you should demand that the journalist who wrote that be immediately and publicly fired. Totally 100% incompetent. Did NOT do their homework.
Dave Winer gives Richards "zero credence" and Alec Saunders also weighed in on the "hogwash" call. But then Richards has also had people back him including Stowe Boyd and
Steve Gillmor who wrote to Scoble:
Stop calling for the head of a reporter or an editor or both about the 60% code story. Are you so sure that's untrue? Or put it another way–are you so sure anyone except maybe Bill really knows how much code has to be rewritten, or thrown away, to meet a January deadline which most likely will also slip?
For those of you who are trying to work out how much credence you want to assign the SmartHouse story, I thought, I'd fill you in on who David Richards is, because it makes this little drama even the more delectable.
Firstly, the Scobleizer isn't going to be happy to hear, that it's highly unlikely that Richards is going to be sacked, on account of the fact that he'd have to sack himself. Richards is CEO and editorial director of 4Square Media, the publisher of the Smarthouse magazine and website. So you can be pretty safe to assume that in this instance, Richards was journalist, editor and publisher. So if you want to point your spears at anyone, there's only one person you need go looking for.
Without a doubt, Richards is the most notorious and controversial technology journalist in Australia and it won't surprise anyone down under in the tech media or IT industries that he's managed to get himself embroiled in this kind of saga.
First things, first. Richards is a real, bona fide journalist. He's not an amateur blogger. He's not a techie, who took up a writing. He's got a Fleet Street background and was responsible for one of the most, important investigative journalism works ever published in Australia when his expose on the Painters and Dockers union uncovered extensive corruption and sparked a historical Royal Commission. This ain't no tinpot IT product scoop, we're talking about. This is about as close as we've gotten in Australia to a Watergate scandal.
Richards is also a successful entrepreneur. He started a PR company, Weston Communications, which he built up and sold and following that he founded a publishing company DWR Media, which he flogged to US publisher Penton Media for up to $US8 million (Penton would about 2 years later offload the division for a pittance).
Along the way, though, he's ticked a lot of people off. He's brash, pushy and thrives on controversy. He always seems to be suing someone, or else being sued. In the past few months, he's been accused on plagiarism, attacked for conflicts of interest and laid a big, steelcapped boot into one of the world's biggest PR companies.
He does, however, know a lot of people. However, in his reporting, he constantly flies dangerously close to the wind (a lot of reporters with track records for breaking news do though). So would Richards report this story without checking facts or seeking out confirmation. Absolutely. Would he write this kind of report, if he didn't think it was true. I don't think so. Would he sensationalise it? Yes. Would he have access to a "Microsoft insider" who you would really trust with this level of information. It's possible. Would I believe everything I ever read or hear from Richards. No. Would it surprise me if this story was, at least in part, true. Absolutely not.
So what does Squash reckon? I think it's mathematically impossible that Microsoft will be changing anything near 60 per cent of Vista code before release. I think it's more likely that Richard's source has heard something along the lines that 60 per cent of code will need to be reviewed.
Is Microsoft stuggling with Vista? Abso-farking-lutely. Not hitting that pre-Christmas deadline is one of, if not the BIGGEST screw-ups in Microsoft history. You cannot possibly underestimate how much angst this is going to cause Microsoft's hardware partners. You cannot possibly underestimate how much this is going to ruin Microsoft's Vista marketing plans.
With this delay, Microsoft has pretty much single-handedly ruined Christmas for the PC industry. The single-biggest season for PC sales will flop because nobody is going to buy a PC when a new OS is just around the corner. I'm sure Microsoft and its PC partners will offer free Vista upgrades to people who buy Christmas PCs but that's not going to be enough. Hell, do you want to go through that upgrade process when you can wait a couple of months and have it pre-installed. No way!
Which means Microsoft isn't going to be able to do any pre-launch marketing or else it's hardware partners will tear them to shreds. All this at a time, when Microsoft is under more competitive pressure than it's ever been before. If ever PC makers needed a reason to offer alternative operating systems to Windows, this will be it! Christmas-time Linux PCs? Guaranteed. And stand by for Apple to crank up the marketing like never before. This is an opportunity they simply will be salivating over.
So, for Microsoft to have delayed this one, there has to be major issues. All of which re-affirms everything I've learnt in dealing with David for the last ten years. Take everything he says with a grain of salt, but do listen, because more often than not somewhere in amongst the barrage, there's nuggets of truth and sometimes they're gold.