I love new things. They are crisp, clean, en vogue; you get the picture. I have been grappling with updating to the new Vista operating system (OS) from Microsoft (MS), however. I am simply uninterested with this new OS and the features MS has decided to put into and leave out of it.
For starters, I am extremely pleased with Windows XP Professional (XP). After the release of the Service Packs and numerous patches most of the glaring problems with the system have been addressed. It is quite stable and I have yet to crash because of things out of my control. After a few years of operation I have configured and adapted to the numerous items within and found great software to compliment its operation. For some, this all indicates a person who has become accustomed to one thing and is unwilling to change to the new. I can understand that sentiment from what I have said. Consider, however, that after years of existence the good software has been filtered from the bad. Anti virus suites like AVG are refined to perform reliably on the XP platform. Open Office, a wonderful and free alternative to the over priced and burgeoning Office suite, will undoubtedly be ported to the new OS but one has to wonder how long before bugs and conflicts will be resolved especially considering the gobs of new code that MS has inserted into their foot print. While running the beta, I found that Vista has a footprint of almost fifteen gigabytes (GB )!
Being accustomed to the previous iteration of the Windows system is not the primary reason for writing this diatribe. Quite honestly, the addition of digital rights management (DRM) injected directly into the constructs of the operating system are completely unacceptable. The MS excuse for this is that the movie studios require this. I frankly do not accept this reasoning. I believe that in order to win the contracts of various movie studios for their growing online subscription service models incorporating a more viable DRM was a sure way to calm the fears of penny grabbing studio executives. Whatever the case, the idea of my OS having control over my files in any way whether I own the files or not is bullocks. I am not here to argue whether file sharing is right or wrong. I simply believe that an operating system should operate my system and not poses some arcane power to play certain files in a certain quality.
The new OS is a power hungry beast seeking to monopolize resources. As I mentioned earlier, the fifteen GB footprint is bad enough. I have not seen all that the OS does with that but I know previous iterations use at least half that space. But it’s not even the space I gripe about. It is the massive CPU and memory gobbling the thing does for some features that have been around on Linux’s KDE desktop and Mac OSX for years. I understand that MS is trying to shore up the hardware requirements for its OS. I do not think that is a problem necessarily. My issue is that the OS will require all the magnificent power to perform rudimentary tasks; albeit mo’ pretty.
I believe enforcing certification specifications is a good step to ensure greater software and hardware compatibility with better software development to result. Direct X (DX) 10, unlike its DX9 cousin, will require that DX10 certified cards are completely compatible with all DX10 specifications whereas DX9 hardware would be labeled certified DX9 if a few critical specification were met. This is a good thing and one of the few things I think MS did right. It will definitely be more expensive for the user trying to upgrade or build a system to work with the new specifications but in the long run it should be better for all of us.
The cost and number of versions is unreasonable. To buy into the Vista OS, assuming you have updated your computer to be compliant, will start at $199 for the Vista Home Edition and $399 for the Ultimate Edition. There are six editions to this OS each having different components and/or features. Would it not be easier to find a middle ground price and simply have a couple editions like with the XP iteration of Windows? This sounds like a confusing mess to suckle as much money from the market as efficiently as possible through market sales implemented bit testing.
Security implementation in the new OS seems haphazard. On one hand they close up a lot of the obvious holes but on the other hand they do not go the distance to implement administrator level permissions for certain installation type procedures. They should have gone the distance and made this system comparable to other Unix derivatives and simply done it right. With how popular Windows OSs are and the market share they hold, it will only be a matter of time before this heap of security is destroyed by the hackers of the world. Sure, it may be a balance between security and annoyance, but is a lack of permissions level installation not why there are all the security problems with Windows in the first place? The pop up boxes that prompt the user to affirm or cancel are not enough. Jim Bob in a rural town with millions of familial relations completely void of security understanding will most assuredly click yes whether they are installing Deer Hunter IV or the latest executable recruiting their computer into an Al-Qaeda bot army. I am quite shocked, now that I think about it, that the NSA will collaborate with developers in creating a more secure Linux (SE Linux) yet not much is being collaborated on security with MS. I suppose MS is a free enterprise and creating open source, kernel level permissions security is one thing. Note, however, Fedora and other distributions have adopted SE Linux. Perhaps MS has implemented something like this and we do not know about it? Doubtful.
Other than bells and whistles, a couple new visual elements, and various obvious improvements to the visual desktop user interface, there is not some ground breaking new addition to the OS world. When we first heard of Vista (back in the Longhorn days) many of us were extremely excited to hear about a new file system called WinFS that would replace the archaic and poorly designed FAT and NTFS systems we have all gotten accustomed to. On the outside Vista may look like a flashy new model but under the hood its the same with a whole bunch of stuff added. If there are any new softwares to use in Vista they could have all probably been released in XP.
I like the new look and quite frankly, I really would love to tinker with it. I will wait, however, until a couple service packs have been released and the price has come down to a reasonable, working man’s range. There is definitely no reason to upgrade unless you are a technology junkie who needs to be in the now with MS. Maybe we’ll see something worth talking about when MS releases a version of Windows after Vista. In the mean time, save your money and upgrade your hardware instead. You will get more bang for the buck. Vista will not solve any problems, make anything easier, or do anything new.