We looked forward to Vista. Were we deluded fools?

I have a feeling my relationship with Vista could take a while to bed down. Doubtless there are techies all over the country right now marvelling at its amazing features. "Hey guys, it's got a neat clock on the sidebar."

For all its faults, Windows XP is stable and works quite happily in 512 MB of RAM with a modest Pentium 4 CPU. Vista gives us a bit more – there is some quite nice stuff in there - but at a big cost:

• It needs four times the memory to work happily. Suddenly users have to buy PCs and laptops with 2GB of RAM to have any hope of getting the OS to perform as it should. Some think it might be more like 4GB, which puts most systems well over £1,000.

• Odd that the one application that disintegrates into a heap when Vista is installed is any older version of Outlook, which suffers a catalogue of problems that only stop when Office 2007 is installed. We can live with a degree of app incompatibility in a new OS, but didn’t MS test it with its own applications? Woops. Forgot to send it those guys in building 7.

• By the way, Office 2007, which came out at the same time as Vista, costs a packet, so that’s even more expense to get the same productivity out of a basic WP and spreadsheet suite. And it might be necessary to get *any* productivity at all in the case of Outlook.

• Microsoft spent billions on this operating system, to give us features most of which can be had without Vista itself (encryption, better security, IE 7, Office 2007). Will the Aero interface increase business productivity?

• MS has been so relentlessly criticised over the years that it no longer cares what its users think. This suggests that Vista will not, after all, be the last upgrade-we-didn't-need debacle. "They don't like it...give the fools more!"

• MS came up with Vista because it had to. This is not to say that XP would suffice for eternity, but that the time and place of its demise was always going to be for MS to decide, not its users.

• We can live without Web 2.0 stuff inside Vista because most of that it just there to make programmers' lives easier.

• If you mention any of the above, you are cast as a luddite, the self-serving argument that has kept the computer industry humming with useless innovation for decades. Luddites are sometimes misunderstood. The first wheels invented were probably more like hexagons and it took Neolithic “luddites” to point out that they might not be fulfilling the potential of wheeled transport. It's as if the answer to that had been, "no, let's invent it as an octagon."

• Vista is expensive, but on the basis of what? MS mucked around for years and years failing to smooth out the edges from its XP heaxagon, and has had to recoup not only that considerable cost, but the expense of having to compensate for Vista’s brush with mediocrity by pouring huge sums into marketing it. Like so much clever marketing, this will be better than the product it is pushing.

• I’ll stop here or this could get tedious. Whining becomes unattractive after a while.

This story, "We looked forward to Vista. Were we deluded fools?" was originally published by Techworld.com.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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