The Devolution of Windows

By Shamus Posted Friday Nov 2, 2007

Filed under: Rants 91 comments

Lots of people are upgrading to Windows Vista and then regretting the move. As I contemplate this, I look back at my own history with the PC platform:

DOS (1988): I started here. It was cryptic and odd unless you knew how to use it, but it got the job done.

Windows 3.1 (1992): It was ugly, stupid, and annoying a hundred ways, but it did what I needed. I usually just ran DOS and jumped into Windows when I had to run something designed for Windows. Yes, it was appalling compared to the Mac OS of the day, but I’d never used a Mac and had no idea what I was missing. Windows 3.1 managed to more or less stay out of my way. Pointless but harmless upgrade.

Windows 95 (1995): It enraged me with just how much memory it demanded. It no longer ran as a DOS application, which means that you couldn’t just jump in and out of Windows at will. It was bossy, pandering, frustrating, with the very worst dialog boxes I’ve ever seen. I had to upgrade to do my job at the time, or I wouldn’t have done so at all. The constant nanny prompts, “Are you sure you want to do that thing you just did?” probably cost me a couple of keyboards. If I need windows for my job I would have run to Apple at this point and begged them to take my money. Took me a year to get used to it. Awful upgrade.

Windows 98 (1999): This upgrade was a relief. File sharing worked more or less as it should. While the memory footprint was somewhat bigger, Moore’s Law had caused memory to expand faster than the OS, which means that I had a larger percentage of system memory at my disposal. It looked better, ran better, and corrected some of the worst problems of Win95. This was arguably what Win95 should have been in the first place. Took me a month to get comfortable with it. Decent upgrade.

Windows XP (2002): The system was more reliable and more stable than before. There were still a lot of nanny dialogs here and there, but most of them could be turned off. Again, the memory footprint was bigger but Moore’s Law kept it from being too big. The only complaint I had was the overly fancy UI seemed like a total waste of resources. I turned off most of the visual enhancements and enjoyed something that looked like Windows 98 but ran better. Took me a couple of days to get comfortable with it. Good upgrade.

Windows Vista (Never, never I say!): I will resist this upgrade for as long as I can. This looks a lot like the the Windows 95 upgrade. Everyone I know who uses it has been driven mad by the “security” features, which are little more than confirmation dialogs that chide the user when they engage in reckless activities like running programs. The memory footprint sounds needlessly gigantic, and even the hard drive requirements are shocking. (Fifteen gigs of hard drive? What on Earth do you have in there?!?!?) It also requires a cutting-edge graphics card, which is just absurd. All of these headaches, all this expensive hardware, and I can’t think of a single reason I’d want to upgrade even if it was free and had the same requirements as XP. I have all the OS I need right now.

How did they go so wrong? Windows has been getting gradually better since the mid 90’s as far as I can tell, and now Microsoft has taken an awful step backwards. It needs two hundred times more hard drive space than Windows 95, and about sixty-four times more memory. Yes, we need operating systems to do more now, twelve years later. But that much more? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’m really wondering: What are they doing with it?

I have 2 XP license keys & clean install discs here. Not system-specific “restore” discs, mind you, but real install discs. I’ve been in the habit of buying “no OS” PC’s and then installing XP fresh, and I’m very glad I’ve been doing that. Hopefully I can keep XP going for several more years, and skip Vista altogether.

It will be very interesting to watch what Linux and Mac do in the next couple of years. I’m chained to the PC platform for various reasons, but lots of people aren’t. Will a lot of fence-sitters migrate to one of the alternatives? I’m hoping so.

 


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91 thoughts on “The Devolution of Windows

  1. Shawn says:

    Vista is the new ME.

  2. Strangeite says:

    My wife was raised in a Mac family because of their being in the newspaper publishing business and in 2001 she convinced me to buy a Mac. Almost seven years later, that same 466ghz PowerPC tower handles almost 95% of our computer needs. And this is a household that has an IBM Thinkpad, a Ubuntu box and a crappy Dell, all newer than the Mac by at least three years. Yet the Mac handles all of our music, web browsing, word processing and other miscellaneous needs.

    I used to make fun of Mac people and now have become one of them. It is one of many reasons that I love my wife.

  3. maehara says:

    I switched to Mac a few years back. Kept a Windows PC, as some of the college modules I do require Windows (35 years old & still learning… ^^;), but as far as possible I used the Mac, and for the past year or so I haven’t needed Windows at all outside the college stuff. Everything you need is available for Mac in one form or another, if you can invest some time in hunting it down (MacUpdate is always a good place to start – http://www.macupdate.com/).

    Anyway. Finally bought myself an Intel-based Mac 3 months ago, along with a copy of Parallels Desktop (http://www.parallels.com/) – lets you run Windows (any version) as a virtual machine, and if you use Coherence mode you wouldn’t even know Windows was there, apart from the window decorations. Very, very smooth with my old copy of Win2K (the best version of Windows, bar none). Now, no need for a dedicated Windows box. If you have the money to look at a Mac, you really should – the savings in the hassle factor alone make it well worthwhile.

    (For games: Parallels 3 does a half-decent attempt with DirectX 9, but for best performance you’d want to set a Mac up to dual-boot using Boot Camp. I mention this as I know you love your games..!)

  4. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Basically the only person that said anything good about Vista was this like cyber security criminology or some such guy up here at school. That was pretty much that its a good step forward for people who don’t know anything since it basically holds your hand while you do anything. That’s probably Microsoft’s problem, they want everyone who never touched a computer to not actually need to know anything in the first place. Of course I also think that Google is our only hope to prevent Microsoft from taking over the world some day so I’m crazy. Go GoOs!

  5. Roxysteve says:

    Here’s my experience.

    I hated toy computers with a vengeance. I had to use one to do my timesheet, but that’s all it got used for. The rest of the time I used a greenscreen terminal to do my job as a DBA. My PC had windows (3.0). I never used it for anything after looking at it once.

    Then I took a job on the Beltway, one of the side effects of that being that I would be travelling to clients a lot. So I got a laptop for a terminal, one of those nifty butterfly keyboard IBM jobs that turned heads and attracted women. Right.

    I switched it on and was presented with Windows 95. My heart fell. One day into my new job and I would have to crash learn how to use a toy computer.

    Except.

    The Win 95 interface was so easy to figure out and so helpful with its context-sensitive menus that it took me, an avowed PC hater and Windows loather, exactly 30 minutes to learn enough to move the PC/OS out of the way and get on with my work. It got my vote, and I can argue quite forcefully that the evidence is that Windows 95 built the Wolrd Wide Web into what we’re using to communicate with right now.

    There are technical arguments about how slow it boots and how much memory it takes and Azathoth knows wht else, but who seriously thinks that comparing a modern, multitasking OS with DOS is a fair comparison for any purpose? Even in Win 95’s day, the average Unix computer took longer to boot and sucked up several times its own weight in RAM (The pre-Linux shop I worked in had 2 Unisys 2200 mainframes and about 400 Unix servers running BSD, SVR3 and SVR4, so I know whereof I speak, a bit)

    From a looks and behaviour standpoint, I think the 95 GUI had much going for it. I hate 98, NT4.0 and the new-style XP (mine is configured to look as much like 95 as it can).

    PCs are still very much toy computers though.

    Steve.

    “If it isn’t water cooled and doesn’t require a three phase supply, a battery house and a motor generator it isn’t a computer, I don’t care how many hunckbacks you need to turn it on”

  6. Luvidiel says:

    Ok what is the problem with Vista? I see someone wining about it once more… The problem is if u know a little about computer u can SHUT DOWN all “security” features, or just parts of it…

    The problem is that a lot of people think there computer isn’t save anymnore by doing that, well then think of this? did u feel unsave with Windows XP not asking u if u really wanna do it over and over again? NO, so if it really annoys u, just shut them down and there u go.

    For the rest, Vista is easier 2 work with, if there is some problem no matter what, vista just hugs u asks if he may solve the problem and after that just does it….Much better then in the XP version that sad, hey mate u have a problem, go fix it have fun, and if u dont know how, thats ur problem but it doesn’t work anymore.

    Beside that graphics are a lot! better, and i think its more comfortble 2 work with so….

    If u ask me, good upgrade!

  7. Hal says:

    As a computer user who was victimized by Windows ME, I can only describe your experience as “merciful.” Windows ME was an abomination heralding the destruction of mankind (The traveler has come!). I saw that BSOD so many times I thought I was going to chuck my PC out my dorm room window.

  8. Roxysteve says:

    Vista = Satan Made Manifest on Earth.

  9. Ian says:

    A few things…

    Vista does take a lot of memory and requires a substantial amount of hard drive space. That much is true.

    However, it really doesn’t require a high-end graphics card. The only thing that requires a DirectX 9 graphics card is the full Aero interface, which is completely optional. They also have a mode that is basically like XP with or without themes if you don’t want the fancy glass effects.

    The security features can be very easily turned off — it’s just a checkbox and a fairly obvious one at that. Also, the number of pop-ups that you really get is largely ballooned. Really, I’ve gotten about as many UAC pop-ups as I have password prompts in OS X (same basic concept, but having to repeatedly type in your password is a LOT more annoying). You only really need to click the button if you’re doing a system task that cannot be done with a standard user account, like change a system setting or install a program. Probably the biggest reason UAC can be a pain is that some applications (legacy applications and poorly written .NET applications, mainly) don’t know how to ask for permission and, therefore, simply fail rather than having the system give the prompt.

    As far as sticking with the minimums go, Vista runs surprisingly well with 512MB (the minimum requirements). I was able to run it on a P3-933 with 512MB of RAM and still comfortably multitask (in this particular case, IE, Windows Update, and Word).

    Honestly, having used it as my primary OS for a while shortly after release (at work, using the Business edition) it was a lot better than the Internet mobs would have you believe.

    I don’t have it on my home system yet, mainly because I’m too cheap to buy it, I already have four operating systems on this box as it is, and there isn’t any real motivation for me to upgrade at the moment (DURR HALO 2). Really, by the time SP1 comes out it should be just about universally stable.

  10. hank says:

    Luvidiel:

    “Ok what is the problem with Vista?”

    The problem is it is unnecessary. XP works great and Vista fixes almost none of the problems while adding new ones of it’s own. The problem is that they released a new OS because they felt it was time to make more money, not because they had new technology or new solutions. The problem is that I’ve been a rabid anti-Mac person all my life and Vista was enough to make me consider OSX (though I eventually decided on linux as my way out, instead).

    For all of the bitching I myself have done, I have been pretty happy with how much easier each new version of Windows made things… until Vista. If they lost me (and even made me consider a Mac), they are doing something very stupid indeed.

  11. Shamus says:

    I stand corrected on the need for the GFX card.

  12. Adamantyr says:

    I have Vista at home. Granted, I did not upgrade to it, I installed it fresh on a newly built dual-core AMD system. I also installed the 32-bit version, because I TESTED Vista and I knew better. (The 64-bit builds broke about 70% of the time in install when I was testing, and the problems nowadays is that all the 3rd party driver software is still in transition to 64-bit compatibility. I had a friend who couldn’t download pictures from his camera because 64-bit Vista could not use the camera drivers.)

    Vista’s worst crime is just that there’s no real incentive to upgrade to it. Windows XP offered a lot of decent changes to 98. I remember having to do a LOT of patching and manual setup to keep my W98 box from being wide open to Internet incursions; all that became automatic in XP.

    As for the security features, the UAC (User Account Control) which is what pops up the annoying “This program wants to do this!” boxes can be turned off. It complains about doing so and makes you reboot afterwards, but you’ll never see those boxes again.

    It’s getting to the point that I start ignoring anyone who’s going to blindly state “Vista sucks!” when they haven’t used it or even tried. I’m not saying it’s infinitely better than XP (it isn’t), but it’s actually a decent OS with some nice features. It just lacks that “wow!” factor to make you want to upgrade.

  13. Roxysteve says:

    [Luvidiel] Apart from causing its users write in hideous txtspeek?

    Well, let’s run the numbers.

    First there are the TWO license agreements you need to okay before you start a new copy. One the standard one, the other tying the OS to the hardware so tightly that there are serious questions as to how much of your machine could be changed before Microsoft brick it for breaking the agreement. New processor? Replaced motherboard? Different DVD_ROM setup? Microsoft has been less than forthcoming on this issue.

    Then there is the interminable time it takes for the OS to “optimise” itself, a process that requires extensive back and forth to Redmond and which took me almost an hour over a cable modem on a Sunday morning when bandwidth was mine to spare.

    Then there is the software that is “Vista Ready” that requires a passport account be set up before you can register it, and a net connection ti install even though you still have to put in a 28 digit back-of-the-sleeve-sticker code number. Why the net connection if I’m hand typing anyway? no man can say.

    Then there is the way it asks permission to boot everey time you turn the bugger on. Or log on.

    Then there is the Rat-out feature that “helps” you by “verifying” your right to play movies or music, no matter you bought them years ago before iPods were invented.

    Then there is the HD bebuggering mechanism that strips out the high def signal and dumbs it down via a lossy method. It then asks permission over the net to play your bought-and-paid-for HD video. Then it “interpolates” the signal it degraded, back to a computer generated approximation of what you paid extra to see but never will.

    Reflect on that last one. The signal quality that you paid to see will never play on Vista or embedded versions of it (and you wouldn’t believe where Vista is turning up if you know how to look for it – that DVD player you just bought? guess what?). You will only ever see a computer generated version of the picture you think you bought, and then only if Microsoft agree you have the right to see it.

    What is wrong with Vista is that it embodies a move in the licensing arena with respect to Music and Video that is all good for the distributors and all bad for the consumer.

    I don’t own a Vista machine, but I will help others set them up if asked and the stuff above is what I’ve learned from doing that.

    Steve

  14. Shamus says:

    I forgot all about the DRM stuff. Yikes.

    Still, if they came out with a new version of windows that was just XP with all the fixes applied, and they managed to make it use less resources, more responsive, run smoother, etc – I’d buy it.

    Instead they went the other way. I’m a cheapskate with memory. Even if I had 4GB of system RAM, I’d ALWAYS resent that 128MB being chewed up. Not to mention all that hard drive space.

    <docbrown>FIFTEEN POINT ONE GIGABYTES!</docbrown>

  15. Vegedus says:

    And it can’t play X-com. What the hell?!!

    I’m serious too, after having disabled the nanny, and getting a big chunk of ram, the things that still bother me are those programs and stuffs that isn’t compatible with it. X-com is on the top of that list.

  16. Lukasa says:

    Regarding Mac switchers, I went over to Mac this time last year, and found that the iMac (I bought the 17″, 2.0GHz version) got a lot of stick that it really didn’t deserve. It simultaneously tidied my desk, improved my eye strain problems and was virus free.

    Since then I’ve installed XP in Boot Camp and it’s been wonderful: although many people (especially in the games industry) criticise the iMac for being a poor games platform, it seems to perform really rather well, coping with Half Life 2 and its expansions, as well as Bioshock and Medieval 2.

    The Mac isn’t without faults. The Finder is nothing like as good as Windows Explorer (although that’s being rectified in Leopard), and the Dock varies between “better than the Start menu” and “horribly limited”.

    Nevertheless, having moved over to the Apple end of the spectrum, I can’t see myself looking back, especially as I can run Windows if I need to. Very much worth the money, if you can afford to switch over. (Those in Higher Education institutions really should, as Apple gives a generous discount.)

  17. Gothmog says:

    No X-com? Phooey.
    Well that’s the deal-breaker for me.

  18. scragar says:

    DRM is a big mistake, the one thing I like about linux is that if you give the command to do something, even if it’s something as crazy as wiping your entire system, it at least tries(then fails because only root has permission to edit the root file structure without first entering your password to confirm that this is something you want to do and not a virus or somesuch). windows on the other hand gives you confirmation box after confirmation box, few of which ever explain exactly what clicking yes will do, only to fail at a much lower level.

    Fact is I love being able to give the instructions to the computer, vista denies you the right to do so.

    Oh, and if you have a 64 bit linux and want to run a 32 bit program just run “make” over the source and tada, your very own 64 bit version.

  19. Roxysteve says:

    Strangeite:
    My wife was raised in a Mac family because of their being in the newspaper publishing business and in 2001 she convinced me to buy a Mac. Almost seven years later, that same 466ghz PowerPC tower handles almost 95% of our computer needs. And this is a household that has an IBM Thinkpad, a Ubuntu box and a crappy Dell, all newer than the Mac by at least three years. Yet the Mac handles all of our music, web browsing, word processing and other miscellaneous needs.

    And I wish you luck with your Apple, because having had my Brother-in-Law’s G4 in my house for repair for the last few weeks (trying to locate a wildly expensive and rare power supply of all things), Azathoth help you if it breaks down.

    My experience has been uniformly negative, and I can honestly say that I’ve gone from being indifferent to Macs to vowing never to use one unless at gunpoint and never to own one on a bet.

    “It just works”? Well, the software for the camera we gave my BIL didn’t, despite the smug little panel of “requirements” on the box it came in. If “it just works”, why the need for new operating systems like Leopard (or Tiger for that matter – BIL’s Mac is OS9).

    “Easier to use”? I sat for an hour trying to figure out how the hotkey screen navigation worked when the mouse for it gave out, and was no nearer a solution than when I started. When I got a replacement mouse (secondhand, at about the cost a new, full-featured scrollwheel one for a PC would have set me back) I tried finding out via the help utility. Which proved just as good as the Windows help. If only they had included right-click context sensitive menus. Of course, no “right” mouse button so…

    “Better design”? Don’t make me laugh. Monitors perched on stands that cannot support their weight. Interior layout placing the heaviest items above the most delicate ones. No Fuses. No obvious holes for the air the fan is moving to exit the case either, if you leave the fancy plastic sides for the G4 on.

    Of course, it has SCSI. These days that just means “all the speed of SATA at twice the cost” and “good luck finding drivers for this printer in two years’.

    I tried connecting BIL’s G4 to my broadband modem, and the damn thing wouldn’t boot at all. I guess “It just works, unless you connect something to the ethernet port, in which event nothing does” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    And this is the machine Apple says people should buy if they get confused with a PC or can’t attach a printer without dismantling the case?

    The major difference I’ve found between the PC and the Mac communities is that PC users talk about the problems with their machines in public and Mac users don’t. Everyone has heard about BSODs for example, but I only found out about the Mac OS9 issue of “machine hangs when mouse pointer hovers over desktop icon too long” when wading through the Apple tech forums for reasons to apply OS9 upgrades to the wretched machine. As Burl Ives said in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”: “There’s a powerful odour of mendacity in here”. There. Whatever.

    Your mileage may vary.

    May your Mac give you many hours of pleasure and never fail on you.

    Steve.

  20. Downtym says:

    One of these days I might get around to upgrading to Windows XP from Windows 2k.

    Doubt it though.

  21. Roxysteve says:

    [scragar] So recompiling programs makes them run natively?

    Whooda thunkit?

    :o)

    Steve

  22. Dev Null says:

    Bah. The only thing wrong with Vista is that its an OS and its new. Never load an OS less than 2 years old. 2 years from now, the systems requirements will look trivial, the worst of the bugs will have been chased out, and patches or hacks will let you turn off all the annoying jibberjabber.

    (Though I agree with you. This thing does not do significantly more for me than XP, as near as I can tell; why is it so damn BIG?)

  23. Joe says:

    yeah, Vista is the new ME.

    The problem, to me, is that I don’t care too much about the features of an operating system. Its primary feature is its ability to run useful applications. My office is sort of split. Half of us run Ubuntu or Gentoo, and XP in a VMware box, the other half run XP with Ubuntu/Gentoo in a VMware box. (I’m one of the latter). The things that are keeping me on XP at all are Excel and Outlook, both of which I think are actually good products from MS (Visio might make this list too). The problem is, I can see a path that would force me to Vista. If my current system has a hardware failure, and MS stops activating XP, or stops activating a version of Office that supports installation on XP, then my choices are to find something other than Excel/Outlook (I’ve tried alternatives, and just don’t like them that much. They’ll be fine for a while, and then I’ll run into some feature that I seldom use but really need when I need it, and it won’t be there for me), or hold my nose and get Vista.

    There seem to be a lot of “wedge” applications that I let use me this way. Many years ago, my wife and I played halo at a friend’s house. We bough an xbox so that we could continue to play. We just bought a 360 for the sole purpose of playing halo3. (side note: my understanding of console pricing is that manufacturers lose money on every unit, with the expectation to make it back on licensing fees from games bought for that console. I sometimes wonder, if I never bought another game for my xbox, would I cost MS money, or do they break even with one halo sale?) Similarly, I’ve spent over $6K in hardware and software for the single primary purpose of playing NWN1 with my wife. I’m OK with that, because there are ancillary benefits to the hardware I bought.

    What really bugs me about buying Vista to support my Excel habit is that I’m not convinced that there would be any ancillary benefits. That’s what really bugs me. It makes the whole package a more painful and, well, bludgeoning. With NWN, I get NWN at the pointy end of the spear, with a gentle slope up, with faster firefox, an ability to run vmware better, better graphics, other games I could play, and before I know it I’ve got a whole shaft of new computer piercing my heart. If my only choice for Excel is Vista, then it’s not so much a spear as a mace. There’s a small pointy Excel bit, followed immediately by a large, heavy, bludgeoning Vista, and there I am left broken and bruised in the corner thinking “was that really worth it?”

    This has been a test of the overextended metaphor system. Thank you for your cooperation. :)

  24. Strangeite says:

    Roxysteve:

    I think the problem with your Brother-in-Law’s computer is the fact that he is running OS 9. I admit I had almost nothing but problems when we were running OS 9, but when I upgraded to OS X Tiger, it has run like a dream. I have never had a single perpherial not work as soon as I plugged it in.

    OS 9 sucked, but OS X is fantastic.

  25. Andy says:

    Oh please, Vista is nothing like ME.

    ME was hopelessly broken and incomplete. The worst that can be said for Vista is that it has a security feature that’s somewhat annoying but -can easily be shut off-, and that it’s a bit more of a memory and hard drive hog. Do we not all have more memory and hard drive space than we did five years ago?

    For me it’s been even more stable than XP was, and given how resistant it is to spyware compared with any previous Windows (and how stupid most people still are about spyware), it’s a worthwhile upgrade.

    All these years and people still become melodramatic every time a new Windows ships.

  26. Taellosse says:

    I made the jump to Mac myself–at least partway–almost a year ago now, and am quite happy. I replaced my cobbled-together PC desktop with a shiny new Mac Pro, and the beast has pleased me ever since. My only complaint, and it isn’t that relevant right now, since PC gaming is in such a trench these days, is that I can’t upgrade the video card if I want to, because nothing but what I’ve already got, or a worse one by NVidea, is compatible with it. But I’ve got Bootcamp and Parallels for those Windows-only needs (like gaming–which is actually about the only one–everything else the Mac does fine, as far as I’m concerned), and I have far fewer issues than I used to.

    Sadly, Apple has refused to make a tablet PC, so I still have my Toshiba R10. And while the Modbook is moderately tempting, its got no way to use an integrated keyboard–at least half the time, I’m using my current portable as a laptop, and whether its the Toshiba/IBM swivel screen style, or the Motion detachable sort, I need a keyboard that integrates with the computer. And I want a computer I can draw on, dammit, so I can’t get a Macbook.

    Also, work (even though I work for a college) uses primarily PCs, which makes me sad. The really unfortunate thing is they migrated from Apple’s just a few years ago (before I started here). Maybe now, with the Intel chips, they’ll migrate back–they’ve still got some Apple’s on campus, but about 2/3-3/4 of the machines for public use (libraries and classrooms and such) are Dells, with the remainder being Macs, and outside of the people in Communications, virtually everyone who works for the college has to use Dells too.

    But in all PC venues, I’m still on XP, and hope I am not forced into Vista anytime soon here at work (not that it is terribly likely–I’ll likely be on XP here until they replace our computers, and I don’t think that’ll be happening for at least a couple more years, and probably longer). I would probably actually like the eye candy improvements–its one of the things I enjoy most about OSX–but the system security would bug me, and the DRM would piss me off. And while you can turn off the former, you can’t the latter.

  27. Jason says:

    Here’s the thing… I want my OS to be transparent to me. Microsoft’s changes over time have done nothing for me. I can’t think of one thing that it’s done that has made my usage of a PC more enjoyable. Granted, I’m pretty much a non-tech guy, so I don’t really care about all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. If it doesn’t make my music sound better or my pictures look nicer, I don’t really care.

    That being said, I recently bought a new laptop, and it came preloaded with Vista. I wanted to get XP, ’cause I’d heard all the junk being spread about how crummy Vista was, but HP wouldn’t let me get it. So, now I’ve got an OS that is put out by Microsoft and is ostensibly a “Windows” product, but I’ve got a heck of a time just trying to make “older” (like a year to 18 months) programs work because everything is so “cutting edge” that nothing else is up to speed. What the hell was wrong with what they had? I understand capitalism and the “need” to make money by driving people to upgrade, but for cryin’ out loud, this is kinda stupid.

    I had to go through and downgrade all the pre-installed stuff, shut off the cybercop that threw a popup in my face every 3 seconds asking me if I really wanted to type an “S” (‘that’s what the keyboard told us, but we just want to make sure…’), etc. If I want security (and I do), I’ll download Norton (and shut off all the Windows Firewall, etc.). If I want to get on the internet, I’ll download Firefox (and never touch IE again).

    I understand that someone like my grandma needs this kind of stuff, ’cause she can’t figure out on her own how to keep malware off her computer without Windows doing it for her. And I’m not (apologies in advance) a Linuxtard or Ubuntunerd who really wants to spaz out about all the tweaks I can apply to my OS. Granted, if I could run anything remotely resembling normal programs on a Unix-based OS, I’d probably stumble my way through it (and yes, I know about Wine, I just don’t care that much to have another layer of software that I have to run to DO WHAT I FREAKIN’ WANT TO DO).

    Why can’t companies provide an OS that’s compatible with everything, and let’s me run the software I want? I honestly believe that if Microsoft came out with an OS install that was barebones, but worked with all the software out there, and let me install my own security software, my own browser, my own music system, etc. they’d make a killing off of all of us reasonably tech-savvy, non-programming people who aren’t scared of computers.

    Thus sayeth Jason… The End

  28. HeatherRae says:

    Well, I got Vista on my computer even though I didn’t want it. Dell was being a pack of rat bastards, and I won’t even go into that hellacious experience.

    However, once I got my computer home, it has worked just fine. I’m able to run all of my games, even games I’d been told wouldn’t run on Vista, without any problems. It does ask me a lot of things, but I don’t mind that. I’d rather be asked than be sorry, personally. I don’t know much about the DRM part of Vista, but considering that NWN2 installed SecuROM on my computer without my knowledge, I figure I’m SOL anyway.

  29. Rebecca says:

    I like the idea of Vista driving down the cost of computers with high-end graphics cards and lots of RAM. Because then you can play more games. The End.

  30. Jason says:

    @Joe (23) – While I was typing my massive rant, you posted the same thing! Sorry, didn’t mean to copy you. :)

  31. Pederson says:

    As I understand it, there is some very cool rewiring of, say, the graphics subsystem in Vista, and, presumably, similar improvements elsewhere. It’s just that those changes are mostly under the hood and don’t seem to provide much in the way of visible value. (I haven’t touched it myself, but a good friend is half the IT department and most of the desktop support for his employer, so I do hear things.)

    On the other hand, I finally moved myself to a WinXP machine for my primary home computing tasks (i.e. videogames) this last month, building a machine to supplant my five-year-old Win2k box. I may be a Luddite: both desktops have IBM Model M keyboards, because I don’t need three additional keys at the cost of my precious buckling springs.

    As for Macs, I have a MacBook Pro, and, while it’s a lovely thing in both hardware and software, it spends most of its time either off or booted into XP.

    I probably won’t upgrade to Vista until gaming makes it unavoidable. Even then, I’m really hoping the next version of Windows will be more worthwhile and come soon enough that I can leapfrog XP entirely.

  32. wumpus says:

    Howdy Shamus,

    A comparative survey of Mac OSes:

    pre-7: I used a variety of Macs beginning with the original that my roommate generously shared with us freshman year in college. I never had to pay attention to the OS version. Things just worked.

    7 or so: Most of the machines I used in grad school ran some variant of 7. I’m pretty sure that was what we were using when I worked at Apple too. As you can tell from my uncertainty, the OS was still pretty much transparent, though the lack of any standard email functionality was probably an issue for some users. (My universities had comprehensive solutions.) Of course, this was about that time that the Web was coming into existence, which was when networking and security really started to be an issue for the average personal computer owner.

    8: By this time I had bought my first Mac, a (horrible) PowerBook 5300cs. I still had no real home network access, which wasn’t a problem, as I had access on the Suns and NT boxes at work. But this is about the time that I started having reservations recommending Macs to other people… There were way too many third-party bits that had to be kludged together to get most things working, and quality and reliability started to really suffer. In particular, Microsoft’s Orifice 5 for the Mac is perhaps the worst written application I have ever lost hundreds of hours of my life to. Upgrading past 8.1 was asking for pain.

    The 5300 wasn’t my first computer, BTW. That was my NeXTStation. Which is worth mentioning, as the NeXTStep OS really OS X-N. NeXTs were awesome – years ahead of pretty much everything else – but very, very expensive. Mine finally stopped being worth maintaining in, what, 2000 or so?, when the Web browser became inadequate.

    OS 10.1 / 9 (Classic): I foolishly bought this and installed this on our G4 tower. It sucked. I had deliberately skipped the beta – after all, only PC users pay for beta software – but this was clearly still beta. It was unbelievably slow and many, many features were vestigial, really just stubs. It turned my wife off of OS X so badly that she’s still suspicious of any OS upgrade.

    OS 10.2: This was functional. It ran fast enough that life was no longer constant pain. The stubs had been filled out and things pretty much ‘just worked’ again. Software developers started to return to the Mac. Using the underlying BSD Unix was kind of painful, but, really, I’ve had less and less reason to drop into a shell as the OS X interface has gotten better and better.

    OS 10.3 – This was another speed upgrade, and finally felt ‘fully featured’. Something that should be noted: Mac upgrades are not expensive, usually under $100. I’m still quite happy with 10.3, and run it on most of our old iBook laptops, which are cheap and plenty powerful enough for browsing, word processing, email – i.e. 90% of what we use computers for on a day-to-day basis. And with an Airport card and base station, it’s all wireless.

    OS 10.4: I bought it and use it on some of our Macs, but, really, it doesn’t do anything new that I really need, and it’s not noticeably faster or anything. Still, it wasn’t expensive, so why not?

    OS 10.5: I have no plans to buy it yet. Like Vista, I don’t know that it has any compelling features to it. OTOH, it’s not anywhere near as expensive as Vista to find out, and it doesn’t have a bad rep either…

    Alex

  33. Clint says:

    Regarding those who are complaining about Vista because of its system requirements or security “protection”: Yes, those are annoying, but aren’t the real reasons to stay away from Windows Vista. The real reason is that Microsoft has crippled their operating system in an attempt to placate the media cartels. As a concrete example, take a look at this widely-reported “bug” that Microsoft has acknowledged as an unfortunate side-effect of their new architecture:

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/21/1441240

    Apparently, your network performance may be degraded by 90%(!) whenever you listen to an audio file. This comes as a direct result of the extra overhead incurred by the DRM subsystem in Vista.

    For a much more thorough (and somewhat amusing) analysis of all of the ways that the DRM in Vista cripples, outright breaks, and otherwise degrades your computer’s performance, I recommend taking a look at “A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection”, located at:

    http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html

  34. wumpus says:

    Roxysteve: OS 9!?! That’s your problem right there. I only ever used that back when I had the original 10.1, which sucked so bad that I was really running everything in Classic (9) instead. It’s basically ‘legacy mode’. I’m frankly surprised it still works at all.

    Try 10.3 if you want to actually experience a modern Mac OS. The question isn’t ‘Why Jaguar/Tiger/Leopard?’ – it’s ‘Why OS 9’? And the answer is ‘Because 10.1 didn’t really work.’

    Alex

  35. Roxysteve says:

    Strangeite:
    November 2nd, 2007 at 12:35 pm
    Roxysteve:

    I think the problem with your Brother-in-Law's computer is the fact that he is running OS 9. I admit I had almost nothing but problems when we were running OS 9, but when I upgraded to OS X Tiger, it has run like a dream. I have never had a single perpherial not work as soon as I plugged it in.

    OS 9 sucked, but OS X is fantastic.

    Oh no, OS9 is only the icing on the cake and a long way from being the problem.

    You can read the sorry ongoing saga here if want.

    I wouldn’t on an empty stomach though.

    Steve.

  36. Roxysteve says:

    …here if you want. Thank you Mr Brain.

  37. krellen says:

    I think the thing that sums up Vista the best is “unnecessary”. NT4 was a vital change in topology, and XP was a vital marriage of 9x’s “user-friendliness” with NT’s backbone. But I’ve yet to see a compelling reason to want to upgrade to Vista.

    The same holds true for Office 2007. They completely changed the interface, and that’s just not a good idea.

  38. Rask says:

    I jumped into Vista with both feet, and I’ll never look back.

    When Vista was in beta, I tried it out (on the wife’s computer). Much of the bemoaning I hear about Vista is from the beta versions. Everything from it being too buggy to the annoying security popups.

    My wife hates Vista now, so I switched her back to XP.

    I then upgraded my laptop to a new one that comes with Vista. It does take some getting used to for those who have become set in their ways with how they do things on XP. However, the security popups don’t happen as much as in the beta, and they don’t happen often after you’ve initially set up your system with your drivers and applications.

    Sure, they will pop up when you try to install new software, but IMO this is a feature you should actually want.

    I do disagree with Microsoft’s tiering of Vista for different perceived markets (why not have one single Vista for everyone with optional features?). That said, I like Vista for the behind the scenes improvements (WPF, for example) that have yet to be fully realized. Also, I like the little things, like pressing F2 to rename a file and having the file name be selected without the extension.

    Vista has been very solid for me, and I use this laptop for software development as well as games and other daily use.

  39. Phlux says:

    I’m not a vista supporter, but I have it on two computers now, and use it every day as my regular system.

    X-Com DOES run on vista. I have proof. I have it working on this very machine. I played it last night for about an hour, had no bugs, crashes or problems.

    It won’t run on my second vista computer, though, for reasons I cannot understand. Works great on my laptop…black screen on my desktop. No explanation.

    So it’s not Vista per se, probably a graphics driver thing.

  40. Eric J says:

    I’m pretty solidly of the opinion that Windows 2000 was the best iteration of the Windows OS.

  41. ShadoStahker says:

    I’m with those who are using Vista and actually like it.

    I, as well, have worked my way up from DOS, using every iteration of the OS (including ME, which got switched back to 98se quickly).

    Vista, in my experience, has some definite pros over XP, and some definite cons as well. But one thing to remember: most of those cons only come into play when you are trying to run older software.

    And the average computer user? They don’t run older software. They buy Office 2007, and use IE 7, and don’t look back. We, however, play old games. And just like when we upgraded to XP, we’re discovering that not all of them work.

    So, yes, there are some annoyances that a user like me will find. But those same annoyances are why I recommended Vista for my parents’ new computer. They will be safer because of it.

    I have also found I can’t run X-Com, but I believe the reason isn’t Vista. Well, not directly. The reason is NVidia’s Vista drivers. Phlux (#39), I would like to know if you laptop has an ATI video card, and your desktop has an NVidia one.

    As far as DRM goes, I haven’t had much experience with it, but it could explain why I’ve been getting some lag in Diablo 2 while playing LAN games. I’ll have to look into it.

  42. asterismW says:

    @ Hal (#7):

    Yes. Ditto to everything. I hated ME with a passion only surpassed by my loathing of AOL.

  43. Dave H. says:

    For what it’s worth, you can turn off the User Account Controls… but every time you reboot it reminds you that you shouldn’t have done that.

  44. Phlux says:

    Here’s what’s wierd about my setup:

    Desktop runs Vista Ultimate. Has an Intel Dualcore processor and an nvidia 8800GTS graphics card. All very new, only a few months old.

    Laptop is a brand new IBMT61. Has vista enterprise, an intel dualcore processor and an nvidia quadro NVS 140M graphics chip, which as I understand it is the business version of an 8600 series, which is a watered down version of the 8800 series which is what I have in the desktop

    The difference in these systems is fairly minimal on paper. Mobile chipsets vs desktop chipsets, enterprise vs ultimate OS, same underlying graphics architecture.

    For the desktop I’m using some drivers I downloaded from nvidia, they might be beta drivers, and I haven’t tried updating them. For the laptop I’m using stable release drivers that I download from IBM.

  45. Roxysteve says:

    [ShadoStahker] I’m having trouble visualising exactly who you mean by “the average user”.

    PCs are used mainly for business purposes and almost none of them are moving to vista because printers suddenly won’t work and the network slows to a crawl for some reason.

    I would think the next biggest group would be the casual gamer/emailer/web-browser. I drop into that admitedly broad slot, and I expect all my old devices, such as my printer and my scanner, to work with a new computer as would anyone. The problem isn’t that the old software isn’t working, it’s that the old hardware isn’t. Dell have disclaimers about non-working hardware all over their site and you know they don’t want that sort of thing there because it discourages sales.

    Personally, I don’t want the bloody rat-out thing on any machine I own. I’m seriously considering moving my gaming to a console (something I’d rather not do otherwise) just to avoid Vista.

    Steve.

  46. Stark says:

    Ahh yes. I see the Mac Canard of only paying less than $100 for each upgrade so it’s way better than buying Vista has been trotted out. BZZZT! Try again please. The differences between OS 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4 amount to bug fixes. BUG FIXES. This is the equvalent of XP and the subsequent SP1 and SP2 upgrades….which were, of course, FREE. As all bug fixes should be. Apple is the only company I know of that has the gall to charge for point relases. I purchased XP at reatil for $249 years ago… and I’ve never had to spend antoher cent on it. I purchased 10.1 years ago and have since spent nearly $300 just getting it’s bugs worked out with no new features to speak of. That’s $300 on top of the original purchase mind you.

    I do own and use both Mac’s and PC’s. As bad as MS can be Apple is far worse when it comes to making you pay to have things fixed that should “Just Work”.

    I’m also with Steve on the rediculousness of repairng a Mac. I’ve done it professionally, and let me tell ya, I’ll work on a PC for about half of waht6 I canharge to work on a Mac. It’s purely a frustration fee too.

  47. krellen says:

    There’s no need to drift away from PCs just to avoid Vista. Microsoft is supporting XP at least through 2013, and may support it longer if a Service Pack 4 comes out (3 is in the works already).

    As for buying new machines, I keep hearing people tell me “you can’t get a new machine without Vista on it”. Horse Hockey. I do all the specs for new machines at work, and we’ve acquired no less than a dozen machines since Vista’s release, all pre-loaded with XP. And all from Dell (they’re the primary authorised vendor. It’s a bureaucracy thing.) The only reason to have Vista on your brand new machine is lack of knowledge of where the alternatives are. Yes, certain models won’t come without Vista; the answer? Don’t buy those models.

    If you like XP, don’t abandon PCs just because Vista’s out. It’s not a foregone conclusion. ME is proof of that.

  48. Rask says:

    Why did I ever let myself get sucked into an OS debate?

    Anyway, there’s also the wonderful Virtual PC if you want to run Vista as your main OS, but want to use XP (or 98, or DOS even) for older games. Personally, I use Virtual PC for debugging applications in other operating systems. (I was a console gamer, but my wife sucked me into WoW, and I haven’t looked back.)

  49. Myxx says:

    I’m a Vista adopter, since early beta. In consulting, it’s always important to know what manufacturers are forcing on the public, and in this case, Dell is really making it challenging to get a system built and shipped with XP. And they won’t be doing it forever, so I adopted early to get a jump on things. I pushed it out to my team a while later.

    Yeah, there are some headaches, but most of it is interface related, trying to figure out where things are now. There are still networking functions that I have to strain to remember how to find, but in general, it’s exceptionally stable and user friendly.

    Disabling UAC is easy, as is disabling the security notifications. Go into the Security Center and disable the popups. Done. No more security notifications, ever. No more UAC, ever.

    That being said, I love the graphics. Vista is like a new toy. If you think of it that way, you’ll find some redeeming features. I can do everything on my Vista machine that I do on my XP system. And with Ultimate, you get some other cool features.

    I like bitlocker, sync center, shadow copy, searching, and several other new features. The new search/run box is fantastic. And I like being able to write a DVD with drag and drop, whereas XP was limited to CDs.

    So, don’t hate it on principle. There are cool features of this new OS. If they don’t make it cool enough to change, perhaps they’ll make the change bearable when/if you have to make the move. I’ve found some stuff I like, though. And have been able to work around 100% of the stuff I didn’t like. Well, except the system resources, but that’s nothing new with a new OS.

  50. Chaz says:

    I’m no hater of any system, but I do feel a bit short-changed by Microsoft. All those years of waiting, and no compelling reason for an update to Vista that ticks my boxes. Meanwhile, Apple seem to have been making great strides, and making their users excited.

    My work laptop runs like a dog on XP – my fault really, as I’m not very careful about the junk that I install on it. Just for fun, I installed Ubuntu on it last night. I’ve installed Linux about once a year this century, played around and found it lacking. Every time it seemed that within minutes I was trawling through forums for information, typing gibberish at the command line and battling rpm packages to install software.

    Not this time. Synaptic is smooth as silk, all the tecnical issues have been minor, and I haven’t been to the command line once. Plus, even on my not-very-highly-specced laptop, it runs fast and clean, with loads of super-snazzy effects.

    Not perfect by a long way, but this is the first time I’ve been genuinely impressed by a distro. It seems that while Microsoft has been standing still, others have been marching on….

  51. Mark says:

    Man am I glad that I’m not a gamer. I can avoid all the diatribes about operating systems for the most part since nothing I do requires anything specific. I also avoid specific hardware to meet a particular operating system.

    While I dislike Windows for many things, it is more capable in some areas than anything else. I have less reason to use it these days….probably down to 1 time in 3 months.

    I abhor Apple for the opposite reason. I relish my ability to buy the hardware I desire without getting the choices shoved down my throat. Having the freedom of selection for both software and hardware is more important to me than anything. Apple has done pretty well recently but they’ve stumbled a few times. Eventually, people might realize the limitations. It isn’t the complete solution people believe it to be.

    Many mention that alternative OS’s require command line stuff. They often do. I find that equivalent to digging through layers and layers of interfaces to click that one stupid checkbox. It isn’t friendly in either case.

  52. David says:

    It’s almost 2008 and I’m still using 2k and very happy with it. XP was a worthless upgrade from 2k in my opinion.

  53. Tom says:

    I haven’t put Vista on my computer, but I’ve had to help others with it…

    Keep in mind, these are all computers designed as not merely “Vista Capable”, but computers specifically designed to take advantage of all Vista’s features and were pre-installed with Vista.

    First case: Windows Media Player wouldn’t play music. Not just .mp3s, but it wouldn’t play CDs we put in. I had to install a XP-era version of Winamp to get any sound from that machine.

    Second case: The Windows Explorer bar would not respond to anything. Also, the clock disappeared and the icons were oddly displaced. Periodically the person using this computer has to open the task manager and rerun explorer.exe.

    Third case: The AutoRecover for Word 2007 failed to recognize the autorecover file it made. Also, while digging a bit, I noticed that 71% of the CPU resources were taken up. At this point, the only things open were Word and the task manager.

    Fourth case: On the same computer as the second case, Internet Explorer refuses to open any web pages, claiming there’s no internet connection. Despite the fact there is. The network manager has the pretty graphic showing so.

    These are pretty significant problems with arguably the most used Windows programs. They’re not silly insignificant bugs that can be patched later. Garbage like that should have been caught long before the release.

  54. Phlux says:

    David,

    XP was a necessary step in merging the two branches of microsoft operating systems. They had NT for business users and 9x for home users. XP very gracefully merged the two.

    2000 had really terrible driver support its first year, just like Vista has now. By the time XP came out, the driver support was pretty good, and since XP was largely compatible with 2000 drivers, it had a lot of driver support out of the box, which made transitioning better.

    Vista tried to do the same thing, but it isn’t really very good at using XP drivers in most instances. My guess is that when Vienna comes out (probably in 2-3 years) Vista will go the way of ME, and it will soak up Vista’s lagging driver support the same way XP did with windows 2000.

    The thing that frustrates me the most, is that Vista is a royal pain, requires a ton of hardware, and doesn’t give much in return, especially to us enterprise folks. My organization still seems hell-bent on deploying it, though. My recommendation ever time we meet on the subject is to stay with XP until microsoft won’t support it any longer, or until a major servicepack or Vienna convinces me otherwise.

  55. Davesnot says:

    Hmm.. I remember having to hook the tape player up to the RCA plugs in my Apple II+ to load up the Adventure program.. after trying a couple of times it would usually load… loads of computers later.. (I’m on a PC right now) .. I miss that Apple II+ .. I held onto it for a long time.. one move while I was close-to-homeless.. I did the unthinkable.. I gave it to a thrift store.. nobody else would take it.. ..(sniffle)..

    Here’s a fun one.. open up your program of choice.. save a blank file.. go see how much space that empty file takes.. now.. my old Apple II+ had 16K of memory.. that’s way less than that empty file of nothing you just saved.. and I miss that thing… (sniffle)

    Vista? .. from what I’ve heard, it’s just another way to give someone a chunk of money so you can no longer use any of your favorite programs… yippee!

  56. Rich says:

    That’s amazing. Your post makes me want to scream, “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” Spot on. Of course, all that I know about Vista is the horror stories of people that I have worked with or for… but I guess that’s enough. I have yet to build a computer for someone that wants Vista installed. And finding cheap OEM XP disks is getting harder. The last one that I bought was bare bones, a disk and a legit key and that’s all, for $98 US. I should have gotten a dozen, but my business is cash poor.

  57. Blurr says:

    I heard that Microsoft is halting support of XP in 08, to ‘encourage’ people to switch over. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  58. Nyxia says:

    I’m not all that computer savvy. Hell, I don’t even know the first thing about coding or running bios and whatnot.
    But, I can honestly say Vista is needlessly complicated. I can take my older XP computer and find anything I want to, make everything I want to run run as it should. And then I get on this crappy Vista computer, and it frustrates me to no end. It’s almost as irritating as the Mac mouse with only one button, which forces you to CTRL click every time you want to right-click. I can’t even patch my WoW without using “Run as administrator”. Whose great idea was it to limit what your user privelages are on your own computer? It all seems pointlessly overcomplicated, especially searching for files. On my XP, I just click on the little bar thingy at the top of my file browser and OMG, there’s every file I can think of at my leisure to search through. And then, I get in Vista, and I click on the same thing and it gives me a list of the last websites or folders I saved something to, in no logical order whatsoever. I think somebody seriously needs to be shot for this, and for the record, I’m sticking to XP until they come up with something far more convenient.

  59. Smileyfax says:

    Some months ago, XP crapped out, an irreparable problem with the MBR. So, since I had a copy of Vista laying around, I decided to try it out.

    I had used V-Lite ( http://www.vlite.net/ ) to trim out the unnecessary crap before I had even installed. At first, everything was fine. It was a bit slow booting up, sure, but I shrugged it off.

    Let’s fast forward to right before I reinstalled XP. Two very significant bugs had cropped up: I could no longer cut and paste (copy worked fine) and I could no longer rename files. A plethora of ‘New Folder’s dotted my desktop until I realized I could use command prompt to change their names.

    Vista never used less than half my RAM (1 GB). Oftentimes it would crank up to using 3/4 of it. It would often gorge itself on my CPU as well.

    When I finally got back to XP, I nearly wept at how much I missed it. I suppose someday I’ll go back to Vista, in the distant future. Not without at least 2 GB of RAM, though.

  60. Telas says:

    Some history and opinion, from someone who fixes these things for a living…

    All the Win9x and Me were (to less and less extents) DOS-based operating systems in which the applications spoke directly to the hardware. WinMe was nothing more than Win98++… **blarg**

    Win2K, WinXP, and Vista are all NT-based operating systems. Windows 2000 is NT 5.0, WinXP is NT 5.1, and Vista is (I presume; I haven’t found the serial numbers) NT 6.0. They all use a HAL or Hardware Abstraction Layer between the applications and the hardware, which makes for a much more stable environment, at the risk of some performance.

    Win2K was never supposed to be a gaming OS, so most gamers will find XP to be a huge jump over whatever they had before, be it 98, ME or 2K.

    I use Vista on a laptop, which probably isn’t the best environment for it. I’m not terribly happy with it; opening Windows Explorer takes forever, and the network seems to hang onto the last place I visited. Vista is a big jump for MS, and will be smoothed out a bit over the next year or so. I don’t like the DRM or the loss of a few of the promised features (new file system, etc), but it’s not all bad.

    That said, I do not recommend Vista to my clients. XP with the latest updates, a decent antivirus and anti-spyware suite, and a half-smart user is safe enough.

    Telas

  61. wumpus says:

    canard

    1 a: a false or unfounded report or story; especially : a fabricated report b: a groundless rumor or belief

    I’m pretty sure it’s true that Mac OS updates run less than $100. I wasn’t fabricating anything. I wasn’t even trying to equate a Mac OS update to a Windows one. Just pointing out how it works for me. Smaller steps with lower entry, for me, equals updating despite no particularly compelling features, just to see what the fuss is about or just ’cause I’ve got a few hours to mess around.

    Equating the jump from XP to Vista to the progression from 10.1 to 10.4, OTOH, seems quite dubious. They’re really very different upgrade strageties. And calling 10.2 -> 10.3 or 10.3 -> 10.4 a ‘patch’ or ‘bug fix’ is just silly.

    (Note: I didn’t include 10.1 -> 10.2. That was very much a large set of bug fixes and required feature includes. Which is probably why they don’t list it as an OS in Apple’s support section.)

    I’m not trying to force Mac OS on anyone; in fact, I’m pretty sure that I was quite candid about its checkered history. I suppose one might take me for a dyed in the wool Apple supported from the fact I worked there. But then I worked at Microsoft more recently. Personally, I find XP to be just fine and have no interest in trying out Vista. What’d I’d really like is some reasonable alternative to Orifice (the real anchor of the Microsoft monopoly).

    Alex

  62. icekatze says:

    hi hi

    “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” – Scotty

  63. Rain says:

    Ok, I have never had a system crash on me. not even ME. The only time i got the BSOD on 95 was when I did not a Disk in.
    But, My thing is, is you have a damaged Mother bored, like i do now, Using XP is Really bad. I cant have more that one cam on. My web cam, and my wife’s not web cam. That was not a fun day… But Vista looks Ok, but does lag. I only played with it for 10 min at “Besting of the not Buying” Games. That and C.S.3, thats the only reasons to update.
    Rain

  64. ShadoStahker says:

    Phlux – odd. My computer has an 8600GT, and can’t run X-Com (same issue as your desktop). Perhaps your laptop’s card just supports that one specific screen mode that our desktop cards don’t.

    Roxysteve – I haven’t had an issue with any of my older hardware, either. There’s probably a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work, but it seems that I don’t own any of it.

    Oh, and as far as memory usage is concerned, no matter how much RAM you have, it seems that Vista will start off by taking anywhere from 35-50% of it on bootup. I have 2 gigs of RAM, and it usually starts up at around 50%. But here’s the thing. I open Firefox (I currently have 19 tabs open), Word, a game, a bunch of pdfs… and it goes up to maybe 54-55% usage.

    While it reserves that much memory, it then doles it out to the programs you run. It’s not actually using all that memory itself. In fact, I think I remember reading somewhere that it uses most of that memory in the same way that XP used a swap file. It stores files and programs that you’re running in RAM, for quick access. That may not be 100% correct, but I remember a discussion along those lines somewhere.

  65. Poet says:

    I once took a journey through Windows ME. I thought of it as side questing, but it turns out I should’ve waited until I hit epic levels.

  66. I recently got a new Gateway laptop because my beloved IBM Thinkpad bit the dust in about six different ways. Unfortunately, the Gateway came with Vista.

    My main concerns with Vista are the copy fascism “features” designed into it. But since I had just gone through hell with my Thinkpad, I wasn’t really in the mood to format a laptop hard drive and then try to rebuild a clean system. So I bit the bullet and started using Vista.

    At first I had to begrudgingly give it credit for a few nifty features. But I also noted that it had actively degraded the user interface in several places (at first I thought the new Start menu design was just something I had to get used to — but after a couple of months it’s clear that it just sucks).

    But what I can’t stand about Vista is that, periodically, programs just stop working. Or more accurately they “stop responding” while Vista locks down their interface, grays out the screen, and waits for them to come back from the dead. (Which usually, but not always, happens within 10 or 20 seconds.)

    This happens a lot with Firefox (and I don’t think that’s a coincidence, particularly since the exact same version of Firefox works just fine on my Windows 2000 machine). But it also happens with Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, and basically every other program I run on the machine. Yesterday I actually had Notepad take a nap on me for at least 30 seconds.

    Notepad, for god’s sake.

    If Vista can’t figure out how to run Notepad without locking up, then there’s something seriously wrong with Vista.

    Justin Alexander
    http://www.thealexandrian.net

  67. David says:

    @phlux: I dual booted for a while until the support ramped up. I dual-installed XP on my main computer about a month ago and it ran fine and everything but it just wasn’t different enough… I’ve got all my settings and stuff worked out the way I like… maybe I’ll switch over to XP for good in a few months.

  68. Ranneko says:

    Ye gods, I am sick of the Vista FUD.

    No, the DRM stuff is not as bad as stated, and in the year since Vista was released to businesses, it has not been the cause of any problems.

    Most programs you use will run in 32-bit Vista, I had a copy of Lotus Notes running in Vista at one stage, the only XP app I have personally encountered that does not run on Vista is the VPN software I use for work, slightly annoying, but I use a virtual machine for that anyway.

    Yes, it takes more hardware than XP, it also uses the hardware more fully. There are various interesting tweaks under the hood, go read the Ars Technica review if you want to find out more about that.

    The UAC only really gets in the way on the initial set up, because that is when you are changing the most system preferences and installing the most apps. Some poorly written programs will create unnecessary UAC pop-ups, these are likely to go away the further along Vista gets. My 3 year old copy of mIRC didn’t throw any UAC pop-ups, but it did initially break logging, as the unprivileged user did not have write access to the logs directory.

    While Vista does indeed lack any features that would make me recommend going out and upgrading your PC, it does have various neat features, the main ones I love are the Games menu, the individual sound per process controls that are available, the start menu search while basically allows you to hit the windows key and type the name of a program to run it and the much improved system search.

    I also have a feeling that now I have a dual monitor set up I will start using the sidebar.

    Vista is not an OS I would say to go out and upgrade to, it is an OS I would say it worth getting on a new machine however.

    ShadowStahker: Yeah, Vista uses RAM to cache commonly accessed files IIRC, and frees it up if another program needs it.

  69. Ranneko says:

    wumpus: RRP of Leopard is $129US, though I believe you can get it through some places at $99US.

  70. Bizarre says:

    I love this “Hate Vista Even Though You’ve Never Touched It” bandwagon.

    I got Vista with a new Dell laptop around Christmas time this year, and I would never go back to XP.

    Vista may not have much in the way of features, but in terms of stability and speed it is so much better. Just disable UAC and Aero and you’re set. Since I disabled UAC I’ve never once had a security popup. The computer has never crashed, the only time I’ve ever seen a BSOD is when I downloaded some faulty wireless drivers from my Uni.

    If you’re still on XP, it’s true. There’s no good reason to upgrade, really. If you’re getting a new computer, though, I’d heartily recommend getting Vista.

  71. Aelyn says:

    Vista caused me many headaches on my laptop when I got it. Most of that was due to upgrading from Home Pro to Vista Ultimate in order to get the ability to log into a domain, etc. That upgrade broke some drivers on my laptop. How in the world does changing *versions* of an OS break drivers? That blew my mind. Then I had my typical support incident, where I explained to the tech what the issue was and asked if they had drivers for Ultimate. “No. Your laptop was shipped with Pro. We do not support Ultimate.” “But I have GOT to have Ultimate to work.” “Tough.” Then I dug a bit deeper on their website and stumbled across the updated, Vista Ultimate compatible drivers. /sigh

    But my favorite feature has got to be the movie-as-desktop-wallpaper. Enable the little part that monitors CPU usage. My laptop runs maybe 5% at idle normally. Turn on one of the movies-as-wallpaper. My processor is then cranking 25%-30% at *idle*. Wonder how many idiots are whining about Vista being slow with one of those things running?

  72. Taelus says:

    I’m short on time so I didn’t read the comments before posting (sorry). This isn’t an excuse for Microsoft by any stretch nor a supporting vote for Vista (I hate the OS even though it’s installed on my Mac for the dual boot). You can undo the security question issues with a small change to the OS in a place no person would go looking unless they were hyper-intelligent and/or obsessed with finding out how to turn off those incredibly annoying pop-up dialogs. If you’re running Vista and hate them, you can google it down at any point.

  73. malfunction84 says:

    Ranneko:
    “Yeah, Vista uses RAM to cache commonly accessed files IIRC, and frees it up if another program needs it.”

    I’m glad someone finally mentioned this. This is one of the key performance-enhancing features of Vista. Caching files to make commonly-used programs load faster when you run them really is a great idea, and it is why Vista takes up so much memory and so many CPU cycles. Since it takes basically no time to free up RAM, the real question is: why doesn’t Vista use up ALL your RAM?

    It reminds me of that Firefox plugin which detects an idle network connection and starts pre-loading all the links on page. Except it’s done in a way that shouldn’t bring the system (or in the plugin’s case, the Internet) to its knees.

    Does it actually increase performance? I can’t say because I haven’t experimented with it. Luckily, like UAC, this feature can also be disabled, so a comparison could be made if someone were so inclined.

    Of course, I’m still sticking with XP until MS produces a product that is worth using. The free market does not lie.

    Speaking of the free market, I’m no MS fanboy, but I do find it fascinating that the free market and capitalism cease to apply when your business reaches a certain size. You know you’ve made it big when feature requests from your users arrive in the form of legislation from world governments. And non-compliance doesn’t hurt your profits as much as it sends you to jail.

  74. Davesnot says:

    Rain:

    But, My thing is, is you have a damaged Mother bored, like i do now, Using XP is Really bad. I cant have more that one cam on. My web cam, and my wife's not web cam. That was not a fun day…

    I’m sorry for your pain, Rain.. I can’t imagine the struggle of spending one day with only one web cam working.. That mother board must be in very sad shape!.. but I digress.

    Look.. If any company could keep making money hand over fist without doing anything.. they would… But we quit buying XP because we all have XP (I’m ducking the barrage of folks that are running the MDiTMesef4.67 OS).. so now they need a new way to get your money..

    Yes.. XP works fine.. Sure.. Vista probably does too.. So did DOS.. The world was actually run without personal computers not long ago.. back when there were more Nuclear Missles than people with computers in their homes..

    It’s about money.. is your system so unstable that you’ve been looking for a new OS… has it ever been that unstable that you were looking for a new OS.. or have you bought a new OS because .. well.. everything was being made for that OS and you either finally had to buy it.. or you saw the inevitability ..

    It’s like the videocard upgrade train.. it’s left the station.

  75. Yunt says:

    Ultimately, I’ve decided I’m not going to use Vista on my machine.

    I’m proficient with Unix and Unix-like systems, I can go download Cedega to run what games I play on PC.

    As far as my operating system needs are concerned, Vista is *not* an upgrade. It does precisely what my machine does now with Vista installed, only it needs more RAM, hard drive space and computing power to accomplish the same job. Repeatedly benchmark tests show it being slower than XP, slower than Linux and surprisingly slower than Windows software run through WINE or Cedega on Linux.

    I use my machine to play games, surf the web and occasionally write up a resume or something. I’m already using Firefox, OpenOffice and a host of other open source and cross platform software. If it hadn’t been for the tweakiness of Oblivion, I wouldn’t even have reinstalled Windows now after my RAID blew up.

    If XP ever becomes really unsupportable on my machine, I’m jumping ship to Linux. Even now I only have but one or two programs that wouldn’t easily run on Linux and they’re more convenience than necessity.

  76. Old Man Matt says:

    Half a year ago, I bought a laptop with vista home premium to replace my old internet machine. Aside from the already mentioned hanging programs, extreme insane slowness at certain tasks, multiple confirmation popups for everything I did, there were random reboots, the BSOD, and one update on windows update that made it unbootable. YES, windows update made it unbootable. Even in safe mode. So the Startup Repair Wizard would flounder and flop around for about an hour before coming up empty. It would then suggest that I should try a software restore. So of course the computer gives me a countdown for a reboot instead of letting me do something silly like restore it, and then the SRW starts flailing around again. It keeps doing that until you discover the super secret hidden restore thingy burried deep in the bowels of one of the startup menue’s submenues.

    The first time this happened, I didn’t have a backup aside from the factory restore point. So I got to watch vista as it prepares itself to run for the very first time. It takes hours of nothing at all to do that and then I have to turn most of the annoyances back off.

    The Second Time I’d put most of the important stuff on my harddrive’s second partition, but still had to go through the SRW fiasco until I remembered how to do the factory restore.

    The third time this happened I’d finally gotten an external harddrive for backups. Alas, the boot menu restore thing won’t restore from external harddrives.

    The fourth time vista killed itself I was ready with restore points and backups in several different places, but for some unfathomable reason vista refused to use any of them. So, back through the factory reset. But this time I’ve finally figured out what’s causing it to commit suicide and windows update is now turned off.

    I still get BSODs, hanging programs, insanely slow performance at things like extracting zipped files and running some programs, but that’s just minor stuff.

    Next time I buy a computer, it’ll be a cheap one I won’t mind throwing on a fire or fixing with a hammer.

  77. Vegedus says:

    Well, it’s true it’s not exactly vistas fault, but nvideas vista drivers. I don’t remember how, but I at one point found out that the most thing that made X-com not work, was a directdraw setting. Enter dxdiag and the tab “display” and under directX features, it should show directdraw acceleration and direct3d acceleration. One of these needs to be turned off (can’t remember which) and x-com should work. However, no matter what version of the nvidea driver I try, there’s no disable button. Which there is in xp.

  78. Ian says:

    Vegedus: Have you tried disabling Aero or using Aero Basic? I believe the full Aero UI is the only one that uses Direct3D — Aero Basic and Windows Classic seem to work similarly to how XP’s environment works.

  79. Vegedus says:

    Hm, I had not thought of that, but it doesn’t work. The Dxdiag menu is the same and the game still comes up with a black screen.

  80. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Some since about post #50 may have pointed this out, but here’s 2 cents from someone working in tech support for one of the major PC builders: the reason HP, Dell and others don’t offer XP on some of the units they sell is because of a licencing issue implemented by Microsoft. WinXP is still available on many of the business-focussed boxes, but most of the home-directed units are only avail with Vista because of agreements put in place by M$. In my opinion, there has not been enough backlash put upon the “Evil Empire”, but it is possible that there may be no way to EVER put enough pressure on them to change their ways.

    Vista is not perfect but is simply going through the same kinds of pains XP did however many years ago that was (seems like forever). Some of the changes (DRM, anyone) may provide enough backlash for someone to create and market a “Windows-killer” OS which will provide the ease-of-use of Windows with the desired “Laissez-faire” computing and wide-based compatibility so many of us want. And, before anyone starts jumping on me saying that Linus is said OS, Linux has yet to have any real marketing which will make it an honest-to-goodness mainstream competitor with Windows. The Linux community is obviously extremely open and very smart, but a little unforgiving (still) to n00bs and downright contemptuous (let’s be honest) of unskilled users who need handholding and protection.

    Thanks for the bandwidth,
    Richard

  81. kamagurka says:

    In my opinion W2K is the best thing MS ever did. Everything after that I don’t care for (though I don’t actually hate XP, which is basically 2K with eyecandy).
    That being said, I’ve been running linux at home for about 5 years now, and I’ve never looked back.

  82. Ian says:

    I kind of disagree with W2K being the best thing Microsoft did. I’d have to say that XP is probably it, overall.

    The kernel is a bit more refined than W2K’s, providing functionality such as the MININT switch, essentially allowing for LiveCD operation (WinPE/BartPE/what have you). XP also feels a bit quicker and more responsive than W2K, and enables my favorite shortcut key of all — Win+L.

    Don’t get me wrong, W2K is a very nice OS (it totally converted me to the NT line — I’ve used it since it came out), I just think that Microsoft improved an already-fine product.

    I still stand by my opinion that after Vista gets over its little growing pains that it’ll be just as good as XP. So far as I can tell, it’s easily as big of a jump architecturally as NT4 -> NT5, more than earning the NT6 designation. It’s no wonder there are teething problems with it. I just don’t see how Vista is so “bad” that it’s getting such a horrid reaction. I’ve been using it since beta 1 (yay for MSDN) and don’t really have any major complaints about it.

  83. David says:

    I’d say the bad comes with the myriad bloats required by all the “content protection” schemes.

  84. Roxysteve says:

    [ShadoStahker:] I rejoice that you’ve had no trouble with your old hardware working on Vista. That the problem exists, and not in a small way, is evidenced by the disclaimers on Dells website. Don’t belive me, believe Microsoft, who wrote the disclaimer in the first place.

    The last guy I helped with a Vista-equiped computer is very happy with it. He uses it to play CDs and to “do his eBay”. He is in his 70s and could care less about performance (other than a complete stoppage). I, however, remain outraged by what I discovered during the process of trying to get the OS “registered” and MSWorks installed. This would have taken 40 minutes to an hour AT MOST on XP, but took two hours on the new Vista machine. It actually would have taken longer but I couldn’t stay all day and had to leave some stuff up to him.

    You like it – that’s fine. I have all the personal, keys-under-my-fingers type evidence I need to form my own (negative) opinion of it, and it hinges on issues that are hardware independent.

    Steve.

  85. warmotor says:

    TO ROXYSTEVE:
    Toy Computer?

    Boy, are you living in the past, bud. Unless you’re at NASA and you need to simulate the formulation of a galaxy in real time, you don’t need a large central computing platform.

    At my company we have dozens of guys who came up at IBM and Toshiba making and maintaining huge mainframes, TWENTY FRIGGIN YEARS AGO. The 3 year old PC I’m typing this on right now could single-handedly replace a dozen of them. And yes, they all lament the fact that they have to do their work on little plastic boxes using candy-colored OSes that take them further and further away from the core tech that they actually helped to create… but guess what? Deal with it. Any computer that requires three-phase power belongs in a museum, you can hang out there too if you like. For the record I work for an industrial automation company that regularly builds computer systems running on 3 phase with big ass backup batteries. I don’t condone it.

    Great article, BTW. I was so pissed the first time I fired up a Win95 system I almost lost control of my bowels. This same feeling is the reason I now use Ubuntu Linux instead of Vista on my personal machines. While Microsoft seems to want to continually get in your way, Unbuntu makes every effort to leave you the hell alone. And F*** DRM and M$’s attempted nazification of MY hardware, the day I heard they were limiting essential updates to those who install spyware that reports daily to Redmond I vowed never to give them another dime. Not one.

  86. warmotor says:

    To ROXYSTEVE, again:
    Don’t take the museum comment to seriously, I just love razzing you (obviously) old guys. I just a couple more of your posts and I have to say your comments concerning the Mac community are 100% spot on. Expensive, propietary parts does not a good computer make, even if it is wrapped in pretty cool looking polycarbonate. Seems like buying a Mac means you buy into a little cult where you get to pretend like you’re cool, and to do that you pay twice what you would for a PC with similar performance. For those of us who take computing power at face value without the hipster pretext buying into Apple seems pretty retarded.

    Also, if you’re really serious about abandoning PC for a console: When I made the switch to Linux I also bought a 360 (I know, I hate M$ but I’m also a filthy hippocrite so it’s ok… should have said not one more dime for PC SOFTWARE) and couldn’t be happier with it. For the price of a mid-level gaming PC I bought the 360, a 50″ Phillips DLP and an Onkyo HTS590 5.1 surround system. Sitting there on my big leather couch watching the huge hidef screen with the sound cranked way up, I started wondering why I spent so many years playing games on the PC.

    -No more installing software
    -No more worrying about hardware limitations
    -No more office furniture or tiny screens
    -Wireless controllers = sweet
    -Standardized hardware online, everyone gets the same framerate and everyone has voice headsets STANDARD

    Of course it takes a little time to learn to aim without a mouse, which sucks. Also the indignity of $50 a year for online gaming, but the friends/matchmaking system and standard VOIP make it worth it IMHO.

    If you do ever get a chance to play on XBL look up my gamertag and we can shoot each other IN THE FACE. With guns.

  87. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    No millenium in the list?You lucky SoB!Well,it was good for at least something:It taught me not to buy something before I find out everything about it from other users.Especially if its an OS.

    Oh,and XP wasnt that great when it appeared.98 was much more stable.It took some time before it got polished.

  88. Muttley says:

    Vista sucks, period. I have bought a new laptop, with some decent specs (dual core pentium, 1GB RAM) and it CRAWLS, despite turning off the pointless eye candy and bloated goodies (sidebar etc.)

    One nice trick I have found is this: put a CDROM in your PC, browse through it, everything is fine. Now hibernate your PC, or just close the lid of the laptop.

    Then, bring the PC back to life, swap the CDROM with a new one. If you try to browse it, you still get the files of the CD you had before. And there is no way to get the bloody OS read the new one, you have to reboot the PC.

    This is not FUD, this is crap.

  89. Jeff says:

    malfunction84:
    Government support of capitalism and free market ends when it becomes a matter of national security. Be it simple economic security, or something more serious.

  90. Jeff says:

    And a bit late, but on the lighter side:
    http://www.absurdnotions.org/an20071030.gif

  91. rayen says:

    dunno if you ever upgraded or not, but now that microsoft has a newborn the middle child is getting left behind. I have a Vista computer that i bought cheap right after windows 7 came out. I dunno if we just banged it around and shaped it to our needs through prefrences or everything people say about it was a pack of lies. Honestly the only differnce between XP and Vista that i can tell is more memory sleeker and a couple of useless features that can be turned off in two clicks. oh and some stuff moved around, but the layout is done well enough that i can find what i need if i need to find it.

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