Microsoft’s VX-6000 LifeCam. Source of image: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/images/gallery/hardware/WC6_Angle_Silver_lg.jpg
I posted this to Amazon.com, late on Thurs., Nov. 30, 2006:
I have spent a frustrating afternoon and evening trying to install the VX-6000 on a fully updated MS XP pro system. The install took forever, because every couple of minutes the install program couldn’t find a needed file (if they need it, why not put it on the install CD?). So I had to browse my system and point them to where the file was (why couldn’t they design the install program to search for the file instead of making me do it?). Finally I got a successful install, and then I was informed there was an updated version, and I needed to install that. So I went through the whole time-consuming process all over again, including the schtick about searching for the location of several files. Finally it again said I had installed the program successfully. So I rebooted my PC, and clicked on the Microsoft LifeCam icon. After cranking for awhile I get "initialization error". I try rebooting again—same error. So I type in "initialization error" in the search bar of the "help" section, and I get back "no topics found." So they sell me an expensive camera, run me ragged installing it, send me a repeated error message, and provide me no clue on what to do about it. (I guess now that Bill Gates is saving the world through philanthropy, nobody’s left minding the shop?)
The final comment is probably a bit too snide or harsh. Microsoft has always had the deserved reputation of letting some products out the door before they are ready. E.g., the first couple of versions of Windows paled in comparison to the graphical-user-interface operating system that Apple was offering at the time. And the CD that accompanied Bill Gates’ The Road Ahead would not work on what was then Microsoft’s premier operating system: Windows NT.
Maybe these kind of glitches result from a conscious operating strategy that gives employees a lot of freedom to make their own decisions. The upside can be speedy decisions, and creativity. The downside can be glitches such as the VX-6000 LifeCam. Taking the broad, professorial view, maybe overall, the upside justifies the downside. Tom Peters endorses companies accepting this trade-off rather than adopting layered, rule-bound, slow, bureaucratic decision-making. (See his: Re-imagine!)
(But did I mention that the VX-6000 LifeCam really stinks?)
The reference to the Peters book is:
Peters, Tom. Re-Imagine! London: DK, 2003.