Linked by Neeraj Singh on Mon 23rd Apr 2007 19:02 UTC
Windows If you shout something loud enough and many people are saying it, does it become true? Some groups of people (include tech journalists and Linux advocates, such as Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols) have a psychological need to find Vista lacking. Mr. V-N has predicted that Vista will have all manner of problems, so his clear interest is to point out everything that is wrong with the OS. Who cares if he has to even make some stuff up?
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PlatformAgnostic
Member since:
2006-01-02

Most people don't seem to care about facts. Why do I care?

Because I respect some of the people working on Windows and some who have developed it. There are serious screw-ups in there, but the Kernel mechanisms invented by Dave Cutler are quite well-designed with the lessons learned from UNIX and other systems.

The USER subsystem that Raymond Chen and many others have worked on has many warts and compatibility hacks, but it was for a long time the fastest way to draw a desktop to the screen.

The distributed file system, which was partly written (in its original form) by Larry Ostermann solved problems that the Unix world left to applications, much to the detriment of portability and correctness (do you like those .nfs files that appear when doing shares? or the necessity of creating .lock files everywhere?).

I care because, although I haven't met these people, I realize that they are engineers to look up to and not some organs of a corporate leviathan. I care because I don't want to see other students be seduced by the "worse is better" mentality that many UNIX denizens espouse.

Edited 2007-04-23 21:20

Reply Parent Score: 5

archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

I care that I had to buy a cheap PC today for my ex's parents, and that I couldn't get a single one with XP at the local Future Shop. I didn't have time to shop around, unfortunately, so I had to pick one up with Vista.

I care that it took two and a half hour to reinstall it in French (while installing a language pack in Linux takes less than a minute). I care that it is extremely sluggish for a 512MB system, while it could really fly with a lighter system on it.

I care that it took two minutes and 25 seconds to boot into a working Vista desktop, while it took two minutes and 10 seconds booting into Kubuntu 7.04...from a live CD! I also care that the system was more responsive from the LiveCD for simple tasks (like exploring files, surfing the web, moving windows around and the like).

I care that I didn't have access to the Samba shares on my LAN because the new PC came with Home Basic. Or maybe you can, but I couldn't find it because they changed the control panel UIs again.

This was my first contact with Vista. I've installed and used a large variety of MS OSes in my time: Windows 3.1, 95, 98, 2000 and XP. This was by far the most disappointing one (then again, I never installed ME). Sure, some great engineers work for MS, and they have my respect. That still doesn't make Vista a great Windows release. For starters, all the backwards compatibility cruft are making it incredibly bloated.

Look at it this way: if it was such a great product, there wouldn't be *that* much negative opinions about it. The engineers may not be to blame (I personally think the responsibility lies above them), but that doesn't change the basic fact: the "Wow" is elsewhere.

Reply Parent Score: 5

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

512 MB is too little RAM for Vista. Maybe if you turn Aero off, it might be okay, but I don't think anyone (besides Microsoft) will tell you that 512 is enough. I'm not going to defend the indefensible.

I also don't think the language situation is perfect. But if you needed the OS in French, why was it in English in the first place? This doesn't help you, but enterprises can get multilingual packs that can be installed on a per-user basis... you also get these if you buy Ultimate edition. If not, I guess you're consigned to reinstalling the OS.

Reply Parent Score: 2

BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Should have bought a Dell

Reply Parent Score: 2

butters Member since:
2005-07-08

I care because I don't want to see other students be seduced by the "worse is better" mentality that many UNIX denizens espouse.

We prefer "simpler is better." Surely with enough talent and man-hours, you can create a gigantic tangle of complexity that manages to function as an operating system. But is that better than a set of simple components that fit together in a logical way?

Students learn UNIX because its design is comprehensible, elegant, and fundamental to understanding computer systems. They don't learn Windows because there's no reason to mimic its design. Maybe its feature-set, but not its design.

I'm sure there are countless top-notch developers working on Windows, and the kernel is actually pretty decent these days, but the platform as a whole is screwed. Microsoft can try their best to improve their code quality, but they cannot immediately abandon unfortunate design elements (e.g. the registry) or police their crappy third-party drivers and applications. You can't put sour milk in the fridge and expect it to become drinkable.

What the Windows faithful don't understand, and many of the Linux advocates as well, is that third-party software is what makes running Windows insecure and unreliable. I have no problem with third-party software as long as it's open source, but I'll only accept proprietary software if the vendor offers full support for their product. Microsoft can't support the vast array of proprietary third-party software that its customers use, but when this crap fouls up their systems, it reflects poorly on them. People install a couple dozen applications that all disclaim any responsibility if anything goes wrong, and then when things go south, they blame Microsoft.

So excuse me if I'm not dying to see all sorts of third-party proprietary software on Linux, because the result will be much of the same. I like the fact that my software vendor supports nearly all of the software on my system, providing timely fixes and easy upgrades. If I use proprietary software, I have to live with the fact that flash might not work in a 64-bit browser or that the NVIDIA drivers might not work with the latest version of Xorg for months. I don't try to file a class-action lawsuit when the proprietary drivers don't work properly. I understand that with proprietary software, I'm at the mercy of the vendor, and if I don't like the way their software works or what environments they support, there's nothing I can do about it.

I find it amusing that journalists are going to such great lengths to rationalize the public's general distrust of Microsoft or criticisms of Vista on technical grounds. In the end, it's not UAC, DRM, WGA, or the various UI quirks that create the sentiment that Vista is simply more of the same from Microsoft. It's just that everybody is fed up with the proprietary software industry screwing us over and making us deal with the mess. We can't keep blaming Microsoft forever. We have to give credit where credit is due and point our fingers squarely at the proprietary vendors, particularly the graphics vendors. They suck at shipping good drivers for Windows almost as much as they suck at delivering them for Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 5

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Thanks for a thought-out reply. You're absolutely right about third-party binaries and their detrimental effect on the stability of the system. The applications I use the most on Windows are either written by Microsoft or Open Source, so I definitely live by your statement. I have no choice with drivers, but I'm lucky to have mostly intel hardware with pretty decent drivers.

I have a pretty strong philosophical difference with you on the nature of simplicity in the OS. The Linux/UNIX method of simplicity is great for certain tasks, like high-performance-computing and portable servers. It's also great for bringing up new hardware, as you said in a recent post. But when it comes to making applications that have to have many interactions with the underlying system or which have to get a naturally complex task done, I think it's better to put some intelligence into the OS.

File-locking in distributed filesystems is the first issue that comes to mind for me. Windows has a pretty interesting mechanism to do distributed locking in the SMB protocol. UNIX used NFS for quite some time, which didn't even attempt to solve this problem, so it appears in applications. This is fixed in newer DFSes like NFSv4, but it's an example of what I consider "worse-is-better."

The registry is a Windows solution to setuid. It's basically a filesystem for storing key-value pairs which can be ACLed separately from each other. It also has atomic operations and in Vista, MSFT has implemented ACID transactions on the registry so partial installs can be transparently rolled back. I'd see the registry as a design strength of Windows rather than a design flaw.

I'm sure you've seen this before. I don't necessarily believe everything in here, but I think it's pretty funny and accurate in areas:
http://www.simson.net/ref/ugh.pdf

I respect your opinion in general, and I'd like some specifics in areas where you think the Windows design is deficient. I'm sure I'll agree with you on a lot of them, but the disagreements could be interesting. How would you feel about doing a joint OSNews article? It could be high-quality.

Edited 2007-04-24 06:19

Reply Parent Score: 4

BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

"What the Windows faithful don't understand, and many of the Linux advocates as well, is that third-party software is what makes running Windows insecure and unreliable. I have no problem with third-party software as long as it's open source, but I'll only accept proprietary software if the vendor offers full support for their product. Microsoft can't support the vast array of proprietary third-party software that its customers use, but when this crap fouls up their systems, it reflects poorly on them"

Hear Hear. I think poorly written drivers are one of the biggest problems for Windows, follow a BSOD, and you'll usually end up with a 3rd party driver. Add on top of that AV software (with hooks into the kernel), spyware scanners, and the user running as Admin, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"I care because I don't want to see other students be seduced by the "worse is better" mentality that many UNIX denizens espouse."

If you're going to make inflammatory statements like that you better put in some effort to explain exactly what you mean. Who says worse is better? Why is it worse?

Reply Parent Score: 2

superstoned Member since:
2005-07-07

You are right that much of the work being put in Windows is high-quality. They have to live with a huge amount of obsolete code, but they manage quite well.

Still, whether it is all right or not, and no matter who is to blame (notice many windows haters now say linux is insecure because a out-of-tree driver had a security problem, fixed 4 months ago), Vista isn't that great. It might need time to mature, right, but it took 'em 5 years to get it out of the door, and it still isn't stable nor much more usable (in hindsight, XP wasn't that bad...).

And no matter how great Windows technically is or will be, Microsoft still doesn't care about their users, implements all kinds off freedom-limiting technology and uses unfair and market-value destroying strategies to keep their monopoly. The company might not be 'true evil' but it sure is bad for humanity right now, and thus I considder it unethical to use, sell or promote their software.


Still, facts matter, so in that sense, your article is appreciated.

Reply Parent Score: 2