27 January, 2007

Vista may be the beginning of the end of Windows dominance

With Microsoft's pending release of the consumer version of Windows Vista, there have been many blogs and articles about the pros and cons of moving to Vista. Before I discuss some of the details, need I remind you as I did with iTunes, you DO NOT want to be the first to adopt new software. Let others use it first and see if the reported issues play out or not.

Okay, so you are not going to be an early adopter to Vista. If you were recently in need of a PC, you bought one while you could still get XP, right? If you didn't, now is the time to give Apple another shot.

Why am I taking this position? Well for one thing, Microsoft completely re-wrote the security layer for Vista, and there certainly will be bugs (and their track record for fixing bugs in a timely manner is abysmal). But don't just take my one reason, let's consider some other compelling arguments.

franticindustries recently posted a good article on why power users will hate Vista. Case in point, with the removal of expanding widows through the Start menu interface, now each step takes a click --- and if you already have wrist troubles because you click too much, Vista will have you clicking 3 times more. The other issue brought up is the change in location of certain system applications, and how some are now in illogical places and/or buried deeper.

Robin Williams of TechGage posted the top 8 annoyances in Windows Vista. One is based on the new security model that requires users to approve software installations and changes. In short, it works like a nag screen from shareware software that you never purchased. Only in this case you cannot pay for it to go away. Mr. Williams also discusses some usability issues, both based on moving system applications to new locations and because of the system performance impact from the bloated Vista.

Of course Mr. Williams points out the obvious, bugs will be popular because Vista is new; but his most important point is that of DRM. Microsoft decided supporting Hollywood and the music industry through crippling the OS instead of its customers. The DRM constraints requires new hardware and software, plus had a huge overhead that contributes to the performance issue mentioned prior. Peter Gutmann, a computer scientist based in Auckland, New Zealand has posted an in depth article that describes this. You can also listen to him discuss the issue with Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson on episode 74 of Security Now.

There's still more APC Magazine has posted 10 reasons not to get Vista. For example, the cost is high, and you do not get any benefit that requires you to actually get Vista. The point here is that there is no compelling gain to Vista, and XP with SP2 is much more stable. Further, Microsoft has extended XP support another seven years. Of course Vista is the only OS to support DirectX 10, but then again, there is no software that requires DirectX 10.

And if you are in South Korea, moving to Vista will cause so many incompatibility issues that the government has warned users away from it. The issue is that many online financial institutions used Microsoft's security flawed ActiveX for their sites. And now with the higher restrictions for ActiveX in Vista, those sites no longer work. These many sites will need to be upgrade before customers can use them with Vista.

Still with me? Just to make sure you have the full picture, I will conclude with three posts that discuss Vista.
  1. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet covers several areas of Vista to identify whether you really need Vista.
  2. ZDNet also has a review of Windows Vista Ultimate.
  3. Finally, Microsoft has a response to Peter Gutmann's DRM article.
So let me just say if you really, really, really still want to try Vista, at least do yourself a favor and do not put it on your primary machine. Run it on a machine that wont expose you to potential security flaws that can be compromised on the Internet; and don't install it on a machine that you run critical home or business applications.

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