You know what drives me nuts? I'm sitting there, watching "Lost," waiting for them to tell me what the heck's at the bottom of that hatch, and the next thing I know, I'm watching a commercial where the announcer informs me I can now purchase Product XYZ in four "great" versions. There's the original formula, the fume-free formula, the fast-acting formula, the one that comes in the limited edition Will Ferrell "Elf" shaped bottle formula.
Is it really so hard for these companies to manufacturer a version of Product XYZ that works just like the original, but does all those other things too (except maybe the Will Ferrell shaped bottle)? Of course not. But if the makers of these fine products threw all those formulas into one can, that would mean fewer product options on the shelves to entice us (read: sucker us with). After all, maybe you were a fan of the original version, but the smell of pinecones and dog hair was just a little too aromatic. So you try the fume-free version, only to discover it just doesn't work quite as quickly as the odiferous one. Shucks!
Our friends over in Redmond are getting ready to do the same sort of thing when they release Vista. Microsoft is going to offer seven--that's right, SEVEN--different versions of the new OS. There's going to be a bottom of the barrel, lucky-if-your-machine-even-works version (the Windows Vista Starter Edition). Then there's a Home Basic version, which--as the name suggests--will be pretty much geared to the home user. Right behind that is the Home Premium version, which is full of multimedia tools and applets. And the roll-call continues all the way up to the Emperor Dalek Mega-Mecha version, a.k.a., the Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.
Why, Microsoft? Do you really think there are that many niches out there that we need seven different versions of this puppy? But hey... why stop at seven? Couldn't the company come up with other equally "important" versions? What about the Criterion Edition Vista, with DVD commentary on how the software was made (with special guest commentator Oliver Stone)? Or what about a version with Easter egg videos of Redmond's finest doing the funky chicken dance? And at least one of the versions should come with coupons good for Happy Meals at McDonalds, right?