This is a post that I’ve been contemplating for a while and it will not just be a rant, but offer some advice for fixing issues with Windows Vista. I’ll also offer a little perspective to Microsoft’s new OS, something lacking in today’s blogospheric culture. It took an article in PC World to say enough is enough. That and the fact that today marks the last day you can purchase Windows XP in retail stores. In their latest issue, PC World declares Windows XP as one of their top products of 2008. OK, I get it. Very funny. XP is better than Vista – it’s “leaner, meaner and less bloated than Vista” says PC World. Let me give you one advantage that XP has over Vista. There weren’t any blogs around when XP was released. If there were, you would have seen the same gnashing of teeth that you see with Vista’s release. Today, what you have is a cacophony of users, mostly repeating the meme of Vista is a disaster/nightmare/abomination, the “worst version of Windows ever”. I’ve even heard the comparison to Windows ME. Meanwhile, a bizarre love affair with XP has begun.
Now I admit that I was ready to blame Vista for certain problems I was having. As I pointed out then, there were some audio issues that needed to be ironed out. There also was some weird behavior in the copying function, which has since been corrected with Service Pack 1. However, I have been mostly happy with Vista. I upgraded my Toshiba Tablet PC because XP was giving me fits. (I now believe, by the way, that the computer itself was a big part of the problem). So what’s so good about Vista? Well, let’s start with what was Windows XP’s biggest problem.
Security. It’s better in Vista. Have you read all the headlines about Vista being a security risk, and all of the people hacking Vista? Me neither. However, this has actually been turned into a complaint, with a generous amount of help from Apple with their “switching ads”.
“Oh, this sucks. Now my computer is too secure.” Like it or not, more people are trying to hack Windows. More than 90% of the people using computers in the world are using Windows PCs. User Access Control (UAC) can be frustrating. It can, and possibly should be tweaked. But compare it to XP. For XP to be functional, with the need to install plug-ins for web browsers, and the need to do other system file manipulation, it’s almost essential that it be used in admin mode. Not a good idea. Vista forces you to use a computer in protected mode. The additional (and maybe excessive) prompts are the trade-off for more security.
There are lots of other good things about Vista, not the least of which addresses the complaint of XP’s “Fisher Price” interface (remember that one?). Vista looks good and it functions very well on a relatively new PC. Search and indexing are much improved in Vista. Partitions are easily resized. It has very good Tablet PC support with much better handwriting recognition. It has very good built-in voice recognition. It does a much better job of isolating programs that have crashed, so that they don’t freeze the computer. Vista Media Center is much improved. And so on.
What will happen to Vista from here on out? Well, it will grow on people. Drivers will be improved and programs will be updated to run better on Vista. A majority of problems with Vista lie in poorly written drivers and software, and not with Vista itself. Sure, I want Vista to work better. I want it to work great. So in that spirit, here are some tips to get you there:
Ed Bott’s “Fixing Windows Vista, one machine at a time“, and
And here is some nice perspective on the similarities to when Windows XP was the new kid on the block:
There I feel better.
UPDATE: After I published this, I noticed that Ed Bott had posted an audio interview with Larry Magid of CBS News, talking about XP’s last day and whether Vista is a worthy upgrade.