Windows Vista is constantly degrading me


Microsoft’s recent announcement of (yet another) delay in the retail roll-out of Windows Vista reminded me that I never wrote anything about my adventures with the Build 5308 beta (or I guess they’re “Community Technology Previews” now) version of Vista. I probably didn’t write about it because you don’t give damn, but whatever.

I am Jack’s total lack of surprise at the most recent delay. I expected 5308 to be more or less finished, but I had severe problems keeping it running (or to be more accurate, keeping applications running on top of it). My laptop eked by the hardware requirements, so I got to play around with the Aero Glass desktop theme. I will say this: It’s beautiful. Really beautiful.

And then I’ll say this: so what? It took 5 years and like a bazillion trillion gillion dollars in development to deliver…translucent edges on the windows?

Also, the much-hyped security improvements look like a train-wreck to me. The OS may in fact be much more secure – I didn’t do any security testing beyond learning that I couldn’t get any antivirus product in the universe to install and operate in a normal manner. What I mean by “train-wreck” is that it asks your permission 98 times before doing any single little task. I mean, when I double-click on an application’s icon, I pretty much figure that’s me giving that application permission to load and run. Vista apparently does not share this assumption. And maybe that’s a good thing, but tell me this: what’s your grandma going to do the first time she clicks on something and Vista pops back with “Running this DLL as an app requires your permission.” No, I’m not kidding. The pop-up message actually said “DLL”. I can’t wait to explain dynamic link libraries to everyone I know, and then watch them glaze over as they realize how sorry they are to have asked.

Another fun thing: the “Control Panel” now has like 74 icons on it. Which is kind of neat, in that the GUI’s will give users more control of their systems. On the other hand, it’s kind of horrible, in that the GUI’s will give users more control of their (soon to be unbootable) systems.

Drivers are a serious problem at this point, but I guess that’s not entirely an indictment of the OS. It is still a beta, after all. That said, I was most displeased with the seizure-inducing screen-flashes that accompanied log-on and log-off. Also, iTunes (which you may have heard of, since one or two people use it) is somehow incompatible with the “desktop compositing” that underlies the new transparency/3-D stuff. That means that when you fire up iTunes, the desktop is dropped from Aero Glass to just plain ol’ sucky poor-people’s Aero. I wouldn’t mind that at all if it were not accompanied by several of those god-awful screen flashes.

I finally got my soundcard to work, but (???) only through the onboard speakers. Vista thought my headphone jack was an audio-in port, so no speakers or headphones for me.

After several days, my biggest disappointment came in the realization of just how little is really new in Vista. There are enough changes “under the hood” that it would be unfair to call it Windows XP SP4 or anything like that, but still…one can’t help but think of all those spiffy things that WERE going to be in Vista, until they got postponed to Windows 2098 or whatever comes next. The de-WinFS-ing of Vista was pretty sad.

Anyway…beyond the UI, I wasn’t very impressed. I mean, if they fix all the problems with it before they release it, it will be pretty spiffy. I might personally upgrade at home. But recommend that my boss spend a fat wad of taxpayer cash for upgrades at the office? I don’t think so. Especially since Windows versions are generally more like a merlot than a Beaujolais Nouveau – they benefit from a few years of aging. To my mind, Windows XP is reaching the point of being a mature, reasonably secure and stable platform that is well-understood by developers and administrators alike. I also suspect that XP fully meets the computing needs of over 80% of Windows users, especially in the business markets. I don’t envision IT shops clamoring to be the first to migrate their organizations to Vista. Many are just now starting to move to XP, and there are still a lot of Windows 2000 desktops out there.

I’m much more interested in the enterprise-level technologies in the works at Microsoft. I think Workflow Foundation is an idea that could go a long way, but that’s another post (that you won’t be interested in either).

So, now that I’ve made a short story long, here’s the creamy climax: on Monday, I reinstalled Windows XP on my laptop. Here’s hoping Microsoft makes good use of the extra time they’ve bought themselves.

P.S. The Windows Vista SideBar can kiss my big white ass. And that’s all I’m saying about that.


13 Responses to “Windows Vista is constantly degrading me”

  1. Capt. Trollypants Says:

    I am the therpent in the garden. Would you like thum fruit, thlither?

  2. Res Publica Says:

    If AG hears you lisping like that, you’ll never hear the end of it.

  3. almostinfamous Says:

    hey , ms-b0b! nice one!

    PS: have you used osx 10.4 yet, res?

    it doesn’t have the aero-glass but it’s got the simplicity thing down pat. i know it’s not perfect, but it’s teh awesome!

  4. almostinfamous Says:

    PS: i don’t know now how i could live without hot corners and expose.

  5. Res Publica Says:

    Mac makes a great computer, and I’ve never argued otherwise, but I pretty much make my living by knowing about Microsoft technology (I’m an MCSA, working on MCSE). Also, I haven’t used a Mac since like 7th grade, so I’d pretty much be starting from scratch as a baby user, which doesn’t sound fun at all.

  6. Chuckles Says:

    Dude, Macs are wussified over engineered pieces of crap.

    Ok, not really. Mac is doing far more interesting thigns with computers these days than most windows based systems. In my view, anything neat that someone does to a non-mac is akin to tricking out your car. The exterior detailing can only be appreciated by otehr nerds and the interior can only be appreciated by extremely well trained nerds. Macs are experimenting with design in ways that I appreciate aesthetically and have acheived brand loyalty in the computer world. That is an amazing acheivement. If I had triple my disposable income, I would definitely buy a Mac, as long as it wasn’t white. That bugs me.

  7. Res Publica Says:

    Yeah, that’s the other thing. Momma don’t got Mac money.

    My only real observation about Macs (and this isn’t a good/bad comparison) is that there is a tradeoff between the kind of finely-engineered “Mercedes” quality of Macs and the open/extensible nature of the PC platform. PC’s are, in general, inelegant machines, but they’re also easy to learn about, build, repair, and upgrade, without proprietary skills or licensing. (Here of course I’m talking about the Mac machine vs. the PC, not OS X vs. Windows, which is a whole other discussion.) Mac has an almost craftsmanlike approach to their products, which results in great engineering, but it also gives you stuff like the irreplaceable battery. It’s like they don’t believe in interchangeable parts. PC’s, as crappy as most of them are, are really just a collection of interchangeable modules plugged together.

    And yeah, I realize that this is an overly general statement, but I do believe that part of the elegance and smoothness of the Mac experience comes from the fact that hardware and the software are made by the same company.

  8. Chuckles Says:

    I must aggree with Res. PCs are a bit like 1980s Camaros. Everyone can take them aprart on their lawn and most can put them back together. Macs are more like cars today, you just can’t play with them in the same way.

  9. Robust McManlyPants Says:

    I started to post a snarky comment about how it’s a surprise to me since I upgraded the video card and RAM in my G5 tower a couple months ago so I’d get better gaming performance, but then I put my OS-wars cock back in my pants and got over it. Macs and Windows (and Linux, and BSD, and all that crap) have their uses and the more kinds of computer are out there the more of us get jobs. So, whatevs. I’ve got all three in my own home, so I can’t really get that partisan about it.

    I’m actually really sad to hear that Vista is so lackluster at this point in the beta stage. And I would be totally interested to hear your other thoughts on MS initatives and future plans, Res. I may use a Mac at home, but I do network security in the not-home. Knowing where MS is headed in the future from someone who knows their stuff is always of interest.

  10. Res Publica Says:

    We’ll talk about that later. For now, take your cock back out!

    Apple’s G series are some seriously impressive computers.

  11. Res Publica Says:

    One more thing before I take my nappy nap, El Robusto. You should take my review of Vista with a grain of salt. I honestly had too much work pressing on me to be able to put up with the driver problems and tinker around with it. I went back to XP without really putting Vista through thorough its paces. Ohh, and I also forgot to mention that it’s really good at application recovery. Apps (including things like explorer.exe) would crash, but it would start them right back up, and the OS itself didn’t crash even once. Also, if an installation fails, it gives you the option to try installation again with the settings that it thinks will make it work. Which did in fact work in every instance except antivirus software, which was catagorically a problem.

  12. Pinko Punko Says:

    I was making a Mac joke, but my follow up comment to the Capt. by “Capt. macpants” got eaten.

    The thing about Macs, is there is nothing to learn about them, you just get it and go. I actual get creeped out when I have to use the PCs around here. I feel like they have cooties. And the monitors always suck.

    But I don’t care that much, only that I will never own a PC>

  13. Robust McManlyPants Says:

    I also forgot to mention that it’s really good at application recovery.

    See, I think that’s awesome to hear. What’s the number one thing the user says when a program crashes, after all? “It just went away!”

    I wouldn’t be so quick to hide your review behind an excuse about not putting it through its paces, though. Today I saw at least two stories saying essentially the same thing, including a Forbes preview impressions piece that said it wasn’t ready for use by real people. I also saw a linked story on Slashdot today that claimed 60% of the code is being rewritten from scratch. It’s a source I’d never heard of, though, so for all I know it’s just an ugly rumor. Still, the buzz is definitely with you, for what that’s worth.

    OK, I’ll stop geeking now. For gods’ sakes, it’s Friday night. I need to put a sock in it.

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