There are two or three different factors we use to determine what types of stories we should include in Maximum PC, I don't determine feature stories or cover stories on my latest whim. We consider reader feedback, sales numbers from different cover topics, industry trends (including what competitor mags have seen success with), and the stuff that the staff (as a whole) is interested in.
The Linux topic is really interesting, because it seems to be a totally polarizing topic. I've gotten more questions from readers about Linux in the last six months than any other topic we cover. After we run a Linux story, I get another deluge of email, fairly evenly split between people who are interested in Linux and people who are Linux haters. To ignore a topic that generates that kind of interest, both good and bad would be a mistake.
But, basing the decisions we make on a statistically small number of responses from people who are obviously very passionate about the topic would also be a mistake. That's why the July issue of the magazine went to different parts of the country with different cover stories. One area got the Upgrades You Didn't Know You Needed cover. The other got Get Started With Linux. We can use the info from this test to determine what types of stories the majority of our customers are actually buying.
I also have to tell you, that this is probably the first request I've received this year for us to test more IT oriented products, like scanners and printers. While I definitely appreciate your confidence in us, we don't have the manpower to test an enterprise printer, small-business server, or fax/printer/scanner combo to my satisfaction. And, we don't really have the room to test that kind of stuff. It's big.
As for Vista, the more I use it, the less inclined I am to recommend it to anyone. I originally gave it a wait and see verdict, which I felt was pretty generous. Everything about Vista tells me that it was designed to maximize Microsoft's profits, with improving the end-user's experience as a distant second goal. For example, take the activation failure dialog. When I activated my copy of Vista for a third time (on the exact same hardware, mind you) I got an activation failed message. Instead of prompting me to call the 800 number, as XP does, Vista offers to let me buy another copy of the OS to replace the legitimate one that I paid good money for and hides the method I can use to reactivate my legit copy of Windows. That's not the action of a product that I can endorse, especially for power users. Call me an idealist, but I personally don't want to be stuck with an inferior product that removes functionality I'm accustomed to and need because
"we're stuck with it". Both XP, OS X, and Linux are superior to Vista, I'm hoping Microsoft will release an SE version of the new OS sometime soon that will put the focus back on the end user, giving us the OS we need, not the one that maximizes Microsoft's profit margin.
Furthermore, the uptake rate among our readers is very low. about 20,000 visitors come to Maximum PC's website every month who use Vista. About 15,000 come to our website using Linux, and another 12,000 come to our website every month using OS X. All three of those numbers are insignificant compared to the number of XP users. That, and the feedback I've received from readers, makes me question the viability of a Vista tweaking story this early in the fledgling OS's lifespan.
Anyway, that's an insanely long answer to a pretty long question. Hope it helps.