Vista has not exactly been a massive market success. Sales numbers might be satisfactory due to OEM agreements, but press and public reception have been terrible, and there are several recurring themes in the complaints from people. Microsoft took five of these recurring themes, and addressed them in a document called ‘Five Misunderstood Features in Windows Vista‘.Without further ado, here are the five features in Vista Microsoft believes are misunderstood by the public and ‘IT pros’:
- User Account Control
- Image Management
- Display Driver Model
- Windows Search
- 64 bit architecture
Number one, user account control, is a fairly obvious one. People have been complaining about it loudly, saying it prompts you too often, and for insignificant things – desensitising the user for the actual warnings they contain. Microsoft explains in the document that UAC makes Windows a lot safer because malicious code cannot wreak as much havoc in a limited user account as it can do in an administrator account. In addition, UAC enables filesystem and registry virtualisation, which “redirects many writes to Program Files to per-user locations automatically, to help ensure legacy applications will run as standard user”. Microsoft also reiterates that a key goal of UAC is to ‘nudge’ ISVs into designing applications that operate properly in standard user mode.
Number two, about image management, is mostly interesting to people deploying large numbers of Vista installations among users.
Numbers three and four are interesting as despite their names, Microsoft mostly talks about performance here. The new display driver model enables UAC, which in turn requires a fairly hefty videocard. Windows Search, according to Microsoft, is more or less a resource hog. They explain that it needs the processor to continually monitor the file system, and this of course eats processor power.
The document goes on to say that these five misunderstood features affect two issues hindering adoption of Windows Vista: application compatibility and performance. The paragraph on performance is most interesting:
We’ve heard some of you say that Windows Vista runs slower than Windows XP on a given PC. So what’s really happening here? First, we need to avoid comparing apples to oranges – Windows Vista is doing a lot more than Windows XP, and it requires resources to conduct these tasks. That said, it is important to make sure a PC running Windows
Vista has enough horsepower to function properly, especially for older PCs running a minimal amount of RAM, since the Windows Vista footprint is larger, bottlenecks will occur.
And they mean that, too. They state that “many organisation have found that 2 or more GB of RAM, 2Ghz or faster processors, and compatible graphics adapters yield good results”. To me, that sounds like one killer machine, and if I look around my own home, there’s not even one machine that comes even close to those specifications. They say it as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, but I’m sure many agree with me that needing 2GB of RAM just to run an operating system properly feels rather ridiculous.