Is Windows Vista really the indispensable upgrade that Microsoft wants you to think it is? ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes says: “Having been using Vista for over 18 months I believe that it’s a huge improvement over XP and even though I still use XP I find that I miss many of the features that Vista offers. However, I wouldn’t call any of the changes earth-shattering.” My take: That is about the most sensible Vista-related conclusion I have read so far.
Windows Vista: 19 Months of Usage and Counting
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2007-02-24 10:55 pmBuck
If suddenly all the security issues are gone, if traditional Windows annoyances are gone, if everything suddenly just works without a hiccup, then that could be called “earth-shattering”… in Windows world.
2007-02-24 11:03 pmturrini
if suddenly all windows source code have been released to the public in a BSD or GPL license, then that could be called “earth-shattering”
2007-02-26 6:42 pmsappyvcv
If suddenly all the security issues are gone, if traditional Linux annoyances are gone, if everything suddenly just works without a hiccup, then that could be called “earth-shattering”… in Linux world.
If suddenly all the security issues are gone, if traditional OS X annoyances are gone, if everything suddenly just works without a hiccup, then that could be called “earth-shattering”… in OS X world.
2007-02-24 11:05 pmAlmafeta
I’d call Mac OS X a step back for the Macintosh system; it gained nothing but memory errors in ripping off BSD, and lost its unique advantage as the best alternative to Windows for those users who cannot use open-source software. (Now the best non-Windows closed-source OS is SkyOS, which you can’t use for normal everyday tasks without dumping lots of open-source shovelware into it, which is probably just what Microsoft wanted.)
I think the major ‘earth-shattering’ improvements to the Macintosh OS family were System 6, when Multifinder was included and turned it into a multitasking operating system, and System 9, when it gained Software Update.
2007-02-24 11:55 pmthecwin
Mac OS 9 didn’t have preemptive multitasking or protected memory. A software crash could bring down the operating system, or worse, corrupt memory of core system services.
Mac OS X was a massive step up, due to features such as Unicode, Quartz/GL rendering, Cocoa, decent localisation, wealth of OSS applications, such available now that it had a POSIX compliant architecture…
2007-02-25 12:13 amKroc
True, but to a lot of people at the time it felt like a step back because of the loss of functionality they had grown accustomed to, like the spacial Finder, windowshade, control strip, customizable Apple menu and so on…
2007-02-25 1:46 amBryan
I’m hardly an OSS zealot, but I’m having trouble seeing how being closed source could be seen as a feature. Isn’t that kinda like saying “it doesn’t use enough memory”? The only bad thing about open source platforms I can think of off the top of my head is the device driver situation, which probably wouldn’t be an issue of all operating systems were open source.
As for MollyC’s comments, I don’t think the author was getting at a revolutionary, disorienting change when he said “earth-shattering”. I took that to mean “really worth going out of your way to get”–e.g., the jump from Win3.1 to Win95, or ME to XP. Vista is more than “XP with a service pack”, but it isn’t something I’d go out and tell friends and family they ought to look into ASAP.
2007-02-25 2:30 amAlmafeta
I’m hardly an OSS zealot, but I’m having trouble seeing how being closed source could be seen as a feature.
There are users to whom OSS is not an option, whether due to ethical, moral, or religious objections. For those users, your choices are quite limited, and Windows is the only real option left to you.
2007-02-25 1:50 pmbutters
I’m interested in your anti-OSS religion and would like to subscribe to its newsletter. Are you a Scientologist?
2007-02-25 4:00 amedwdig
Open Source makes great products but horrible systems. For a product, all you care about is that it does the job. For a system, you care about things like source and binary compatibility, neither of which are very good with Open Source. Open Source projects generally take the view that because the source is available, it doesn’t matter if they break compatibility somewhere. Binary compatibility is completely irrelevant to them because of that. Source compatibility they’re usually better about, but still no where near the level with closed source systems.
The device driver situation has nothing to do with open or closed source. It’s a closed spec issue. Back in the DOS days, all hardware had specs freely available (as DOS didn’t provide many standard hardware APIs).
2007-02-25 2:24 pmbutters
Open Source projects generally take the view that because the source is available, it doesn’t matter if they break compatibility somewhere. Binary compatibility is completely irrelevant to them because of that. Source compatibility they’re usually better about, but still no where near the level with closed source systems.
So true. If you compile source on OSS systems, it almost always works, and the same for installing binaries on proprietary systems. But if you want to install binaries on OSS systems or if want to compile source on proprietary systems, good luck finding them and getting it to work.
Actually, I think vendors have had more success delivering binaries for OSS systems than delivering source for proprietary systems. For one thing, most proprietary source is written for expensive compiler suites. But in the end it’s best to stick with source on OSS and binaries on proprietary systems. That’s just how they’re designed to operate.
I like Vista but it is nonsense to call it a huge improvement.
If Vista was faster, less resource intensive, more reliable, more compatible with applications, less annoying to use, as well as more secure and nicer to look at – that would be a huge improvement.
Given that Vista seems slower, more resource intensive, more annoying to use, and less compatible with windows applications and PC hardware than XP -how on earth is it a huge improvement?
It improves in some areas and falls behind in others.
It is a very mixed bag.
2007-02-25 2:00 pmbutters
It is a very mixed bag.
That’s the best explanation of Vista I’ve heard. They should have hired you to do the marketing. Then nobody would have been disappointed:
Microsoft Windows Vista: It’s a very mixed bag.
Or they could have tried to associate its problems with benefits:
Microsoft Windows Vista: Visually stunning and annoying
But then again, according to Bill Gates, the response to Vista has been overwhelming positive. So they must be doing something right.
Vista might not be “earth-shattering” (a wonderful term that has no actual meaning other than “very good”). However, if Microsoft hasn’t failed it should be revolutionary (a term that has an actual meaning).
If they did their job and the marketing isn’t just hype then WPF should bring about a new age in Windows applications where programs:
1.) Look different and interesting without making life hell for developers to do it. And the look can be done by professional designers (not software developers) so it should actually be decent (although I have my doubts it’ll be usable).
2.) Easy access to 3d features should allow for some interesting applications and these applications are where the revolution is supposed to happen.
In my opinion the review was total crap. It was vague, jumped around on various topics as if he was talking to you and not writing (sort of like a typical comment here, but worse because he should have drafted). There weren’t any conclusions it was a complete “wet-noodle” (a term meaning moderate ad nauseam) piece.
2007-02-25 2:36 pmbutters
The jury is still out, of course, but it doesn’t seem like many developers are going to make use of Vista’s new APIs. The only thing that’s revolutionary about Vista is that Microsoft seems to have lost control of the technologies that developers use to build software. Nobody saw that coming…
2007-02-25 6:33 pmma_d
That sounds like a fine revolution to me .
2007-02-25 6:49 pmstestagg
Actually, the word ‘revolutionary’ can have several meaning.
For example, the ‘Spinning earth’ loading logo in Internet Explorer could have been described as a revolutionary feature. Both because it, in part, heralded a change in shift for UI designers, and mainly, because the pretty graphic actually revolved.
The rise of the bourgeoisie in France in the 1780 was a ‘revolutionary’ trend, mainly because it resulted in the French Revolution.
I think that the definition of this word in this context is nicely summarised by the ‘Princeton Word Net’ as being anything:
markedly new or introducing radical change.
What people are arguing about here, is wether any of Vistas ‘features’ are markedly new, or radical changes from previous versions of Windows.
2007-02-26 3:06 amMollyC
Microsoft backported WPF (and all of .NET 3.0) to XP, so regardless of how “revolutionary” WPF is or isn’t (and I’ve only looked at its API (which I like), I’ve not used any of the early WPF apps (some of which are simply tech-demos)), it’s not a Vista-specific thing.
Would be nice to see which of your XP apps will work on vista as well.In addition to a list with drivers that have been written for current hardware under Vista.
I don’t quite understand how the author comes to the conclusion that Vista is a huge improvement over XP from what he writes. His list of advantages that Vista has:
– New start menu, he likes it, some people don’t.
– Improved search
– Bigger icons.
He’s ambivalent about Aero, the sounds have improved to the point where it’s no longer worth the effort to turn them off, stability is about the same as XP, drivers are immature, upgrading is tricky, and it requires some fairly fast hardware to get reasonable performance.
It’s funny that this makes him say that Vista is a huge improvement over XP. That sounds more like a marginal improvement.
What struck me too was the huge variability in Vista performance. Maybe it’s my slow laptop drive, but I can tell you my fresh install of Vista certainly takes far far longer than 12 seconds to boot up. I’d say it takes about 2-3 minutes until the hard drive has stopped thrashing. That’s about the same as my 2 year old XP install, or about a minute longer than my Debian install on the same hardware.
Also, the author says that “Microsoft has made the interface tweaks where they were needed and kept other things the same”. I would be happy if they had actually done that, but they haven’t. If you’ve never used other operating systems, you don’t realize that you’re missing all those little efficiency tweaks that make the interface easier to use, but it would have been trivial for microsoft to add these and make Vista truly great. (Mousewheeling on inactive apps, mousewheel to change volume over the systray icon, moving/resizing windows anywhere on the window, standard keyboard shortcuts everywhere, proper network transparency for the file manager, intelligent error handling in the file manager, etc etc). All those tiny tweaks add up to make a very pleasing user experience.
So is this guy a paid blogger? It’s like he really wants to say something nice about Vista, but he can not really come up with anything. So he grabs for straws like “bigger icons.”
Here is much more objective article from somebody who actually took the time to analyze Vista, and backs up all of assertions. Lot of screenshots:
As far as I can tell from this review, it hardly motivates the cost of Vista to upgrade. Not to mention you’d most likely need heavier HW (which costs buckaroonies) to run it, assuming you’re not a gamer.
So from an office perspective, Vista brings very little it seems and hardly gives a great reason to upgrade. So basically not “when you upgrade” but “when your current HW breaks” you might as well upgrade as you’ll have a hard time finding XP for sale….
Now if only MS would sell Office for some more platforms, and some other software vendors, life would be more fun
It’s sensible, but not exactly profound or even insightful.
I mean, what *would* be “earth-shattering”?
“Huge improvement but not earth-shattering” could also be said regarding Win3.1, Win98, WinXP, Mac OS 8, 9, Mac OSX 10.1,2,3,4 vis-à-vis each of their predecessors. The fact is, something “earth-shattering” wouldn’t sell. People are already complaining about Office 2007 being to radical a change, for crying out loud.
During my years with Windows and Mac, the only OS releases that I’d classify as *fundamental* improvements were Win3.0, Win9x, and NT 3.1 on the Windows side, and Mac OS 7 and OSX 10.0 on the Mac side. And even for those, the word “earth-shattering” still doesn’t come to mind.
OS design is at a stage where improvements will be incremental, not revolutionary, and it’s time everyone understood that. Apple understood it a few years ago, which is why they went to the incremental releases every 12-18 month strategy. That’s enough to keep their customers satisfied without having to create “earth-shattering” revolutions. Microsoft didn’t understand it (which is why they tried to do too much in one release, which resulted in delays and ironically, features being removed to get the project under control), but they sure enough learned it now.
Edited 2007-02-24 22:02