Those of you who know me know that I’m tech savvy with computers, since my business depends on it. You may have also heard about the upcoming release of the new operating system from Microsoft, called Windows Vista.
Normally, I’m fairly excited to get a new operating system in hand to try it out. I had pre-release copies of Windows 95, 98 and 2000, and purchased Windows XP shortly after it was available. But I’m staying away from Windows Vista on purpose.
Why? Well…see my previous blog entry called “Corporate Weaselism” and it pretty much sums up how I feel about Windows Vista, even though that post was about banking.
Besides being mostly about “eye candy” and very little about enhancing the performance of your hardware, Vista will be the first OS released by Microsoft that purposely thwarts the user from doing specific things.
Like for example, playing an MP3 file you got from a friend. I would describe the DRM (Digital Rights Management) policy that comes pre-installed with Vista as downright Draconian. Not just because it prevents you from playing such content, but becuase it takes it a step further. Vista punishes you for even having the MP3 file by disabling certain aspects of the operating system functionality! There’s been reports afoot that Vista will even log the music files and video files on your machine and report them if they appear to be “borrowed”. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but any OS that shuts portions of itself off because somebody downloaded an MP3 of “Hootie and the Blowfish” isn’t something I want to own.
Can you imagine the hassle for a business if an employee downloads such files on their office PC? Who’s liable? Who’s responsible for putting the machine back in working order? Is Microsoft going to compensate the business for downtime?
And it doesn’t stop there. Lets say you are a PC hardware tinkerer (like me) and you want to try out different processors, memory, hard disks, and video card combinations to get the best performance on your home brew PC. Nope, sorry. That’s not allowed under Windows Vista. Change too many things on your PC and Vista decides that you are running a duplicate copy on “another” machine and shuts you down! You can call up Microsoft support and get this reactivated – once. But don’t ever do it again. If you do, they say your operating system license is revoked.
Vista promises some great “eye candy” features, such as its Aero 3D interface seen below. But I’d rather have a fast OS that doesn’t get in my face when I want to do something. And who really needs a 3D interface to send email, web surf, and write some business letters?
People whom already have PC’s and want to upgrade to Vista may be sorely disappointed, as all this 3D eye candy requires some MAJOR horsepower not only in the CPU but in the graphics card as well. Many PC’s from even just last year will run Vista, but sluggishly. Just rendering the 3D glass transparency menu look seen below will overtax the CPU on a 2 GHz Pentium 4 to the point the interface will be too slow to use comfortably.
The winner in all this: I predict it will be Apple. A good friend of mine, CUSD Trustee Rick Anderson recently decided he’d had enough of spyware, viruses, and the like and dumped his Windows PC and bought a Mac. For him, where his most important use of the computer is for web, email, and correspondence, it makes sense. I can’t blame him. Vista may just drive more people to Mac’s or even to Linux.
Even the choice of what Vista “flavor” to buy is difficult: There is Vista Home Basic, Vista Starter, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. I don’t even know which one to buy and I’m tech savvy. All I know for sure is that Home Basic and Vista Starter are “crippleware”, and missing many features. Vista Business reportedly will retail for $499 Ouch! I can buy a whole new PC for that.
Vista will be thrust upon home and business users that buy new PC’s. Personally, if I have to buy a PC with Vista pre-installed, I’m going to ask for Windows XP or a credit for not getting Vista at all. Barring that, I’ll wipe the hard drive and install Windows 2000.
Its not just me. Here’s a review from noted PC expert John Dvorak
From the article:
“While there is no way that Vista will be a flop, since all new computers will come with Vista pre-installed, there seems to be no excitement level at all. And there does not seem to be any compelling reason for people to upgrade to Vista. In fact, the observers I chat with who follow corporate licensing do not see any large installations of Windows-based computers upgrading anytime soon. The word I keep hearing is ‘stagnation.’ Industry manufacturers are not too thrilled either. One CEO who supplies a critical component for all computers says he sees a normal fourth quarter then nothing special in the first quarter for the segment. Dullsville.”
For me, the bottom line is this: Windows Vista may look cool and have some neat features, but I’m not going to rush out and buy new hardware to run it, nor am I going to use it for a PC that I have to rely on for business, lest Microsoft decides to shut it down for some real or perceived licensing infraction. I suggest caution to anyone considering Vista.