This eWeek article
raises an interesting problem that has actually been talked about for quite some time both inside and outside Microsoft.
The most interesting part of this whole debate is that one of the supposed strong points of the open source model is the fact that their "release early release often" type of model is so attractive. However, in the case of Microsoft products, software is coming too fast, which is a very odd thought since from a historical perspective I would say that Microsoft software seems to be coming out at the slowest pace ever in its history. Two or three years ago, I can remember having conversations with customers about the pace of Microsoft releases and it was generally a negative talk. However, this was also during the post Windows 2000 tidal wave of product releases and that seemed to be more the issue; the sheer number of new products as opposed to a particular products release in relationship to its previous version.
I think the real issue today is not how fast versions are coming, but the difficulty in migrating from one version to another. If software could be delivered in an incremental fashion is a near perfect upgrade story (hard to do I know), especially across the smaller revs, I think the "new version" issues would be greatly mitigated. If I could get from version 1.0 to 1.1 easily and better yet from 1.0 to 1.2 or 1.3 that is even better. Sure, you still need to have major milestones (version 2) that serve as lines in the sand as far as upgrading goes (you can't go from 1.9 to 2.1 without passing through 2.0). Do I really care if you release five new versions of a product in year as long as I know that I can get from 1.1 to 1.6 in one easy upgrade?
If I am a customer the thing that would be making me nervous is the fact that another dam of Microsoft products seem to be building up. This is even more true for customers that have investments in multiple Microsoft products. The integrated nature of the stack makes these product tidal waves even harder to take since getting the benefits of Product A often requires upgrading at a minimum Product B and possibly Product C. It also lets customers gain benefit sooner instead of being held hostage to the ever slipping timelines of another "Microsoft big bet" investment. Don't get me wrong, cool stuff and great strategy is part of these big bets, but they are so huge and take so long that they almost take on a negative aura. Add to that the ample time it gives to competitors come up with counter offerings, it is almost painful to watch.
Of course, my views may be slanted since a) I'm the vendor and b) even when I wasn't I believed in the aggressive deployment of new tech.