Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Windows Vista

I took a look at the screenshots of Windows Vista. Very pretty. Yep. But is it worth an upgrade? At the moment I'd say not. P1

Microsoft is showing more and more that they are losing touch with their customers. If you haven't noticed, there's a definite pattern to their behavior, and that pattern hasn't changed at all over the entire life of the company. Microsoft sees that someone else has a nice program/feature/utility. They implement the bare minimum functionality required to say they have it, and then work on improving it later. P2

There's nothing at all wrong with that strategy, except for two things: Microsoft usually only improves a program to the point where it's 'good enough' to kill off the competition (aided by Microsoft's Windows dominance), and they rely on the relative naivety of their customers to define 'improvement' largely as 'polishing the user interface'. P3

Early on in the company's history, that was certainly warranted. DOS's interface was an angle bracket and a blinking cursor, for Pete's sake. And Windows 95's interface was a vast improvement over Windows 3.x. But the interface itself isn't reason for upgrade. Win95 was successful because it solved some serious deficiencies in the Win3.x interface. If you'll recall, you couldn't even put an app on the desktop in Win3.x... a plethora of desktop extensions popped up before Microsoft got a clue and improved things in Win95. And before that, Windows 3.1 wasn't that successful, really... Windows wasn't widely picked up by businesses until the introduction Windows 3.11 (Windows for Workgroups). WfW solved the problem of interconnecting these beasts in your office. Other than that it had virtually the same interface as 3.1. Lately, XP has been a worthwhile upgrade for security reasons (try pressing Esc when you're at a Win98 password prompt to see what I mean). P4

Since Windows 95 things have been fairly stable, UI-wise. the WIMP interface has been 'it.' It still is. Windows Vista makes this a bit prettier, but so what? If being pretty were enough reason for an upgrade, more people would have bought Macs by now. Or Linux, which is totally customizable in ways that leave Windows power users outside drooling with their noses pressed against the glass. P5

Vista simply doesn't solve enough problems to warrant fanfare. I should upgrade my hardware to get what? Aero glass? I've got the equivalent of that in KDE on Linux already. Tell me what it does. P6

Yesterday I spent the evening fixing a computer for a friend. She has four daughters, and have owned this particular Compaq for about a year, I think. The OS had become corrupt, forcing the machine into an endless cycle of reboots. Tell me Vista solves that, then prove it. P7

When booting to safe mode, the OS (XP Home) complained that the disk was corrupt, again forcing a reboot. I used a Linspire run-live CD to boot the machine, access that same disk, and copy the data off onto DVD prior to running the Compaq System Restore, which reformats the disk and restores the system to it's shipped state (nice), but provides no mechanism for recovering data first (unconscionable). Tell me Vista solves that problem, then prove it. P8

When I restored the system, data, and reinstalled their favorite apps, I found that this family of five, (like most, I'd guess) contains no power users. Their use of the machine is limited to email, IM chat, web browsing, listening to MP3s, drawing, and some schoolwork and resumes done with Microsoft Works. That's it, and much of it doesn't use Microsoft programs. Does Vista really improve on any this functionality? Not likely, but if so, I'd have to see it proven, since Windows 98 serves up all of this nicely. P9

Clearly, this family doesn't need Vista. The thousands like them should take a pass as well. I'll probably wind up buying it, but only to service the poor souls it was forced upon with the purchase of a new PC. I'm a computer professional. I've been using, programming, and servicing these beasties quite literally since they were invented, so I tend to think my opinion counts for something. Unless Microsoft can show some real steak to go with Vista's sizzle, I don't see why they bothered. P10


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January 15, 2006 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Ricc said...

I must agree to your decision to fall back to win98. Some years ago my father wanted to surf the web and see pictures of his grandchildren. A nice salesman was trying to sell him a system (Dell or Compaq don’t quite remember) that well in my opinion could run as a server on a small business with a mother of all graphics card. Ballpark price $3800 nice huh. Lucky for my father he asked me my opinion. I went out and bought an entire system for $600. Installed Linux(Redhat 7.2) set him up with a ISP and showed him how to browser the internet use email and even play music. Since then a modem failed, but nothing else. I hate to say this about my father but its dummy proof and he has proved it.

Ricc Ballard

January 26, 2006 at 1:32 PM  

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