Vista: To Get or Not To Get

Thom posted a series of articles on OSNews about Windows Vista, first 10 Reasons Not to Get Vista, then a rebuttal on his own blog, then another and another and another. Seriously. But none mentions the main reason I don’t want Vista: because I’m just not interested in supporting Microsoft any longer. More within.

I think several of the new “features” of Windows Vista are lame and not worthy of upgrading. But I’m man enough to admit that if Leopard had a similar feature pack, I’d think it was cool. Because this stuff is all “cool to have” but little of it is “cool to get.” Very few users give a crap about a new TCP stack. Direct X 10 is not going to make much of a different to most users who don’t play games or use applications that render graphics on the GPU. The hardware requirements, whether demanding or not, are clearly hungrier than their Linux counterparts. And I’ve never really cared much about setting the volume on an app by app basis. And still don’t today. Vista just isn’t that impressive on the surface, and since if I ran it, I’d want RDP, VSC, and Media Center, I’m in for well over $500 for the “Ultimate Edition.”

Only Microsoft actively strips out features – actively DOWNgrades their systems just to sell you more of the same product again. Apple sells OS X client and OS X server. Linux allows you to install anything you want. Not Microsoft.

Vista doesn’t address some of the core architectural problems with Windows. The registry, the start shortcuts, the myriads of places to store data and programs makes the system a litterbox after some time. Put simply, manging Windows is a pain in the ass, even the most die-hards of the Microsoft camp that I know admit that. My laptop is managed to an insane degree – I authorize every single cookie, I have a hosts file a mile long, I regularly run crap cleanup utilities. So I consider my laptop fairly clean. And yet, the last several weeks, logging in is a 5-7 minute process as I wait for it as it is “Applying personal settings.” THIS is an area where, if there were significant improvement, I would be impressed. But it’s not addressed. The mess is still there. And most users will crud up their systems til the point of being unuseable and eventually call me for help.

The most important thing that some brush over is the DRM foundation and the license. These are the most important aspects. I liken it to the US – “If I’m not a terrorist, why do I care if they listen to my phone calls?” This nonsense is the same basis for “I haven’t seen DRM, so it doesn’t bother me.” One of the largest motivations for the very creation of Windows Vista was to support protected content. That is what makes money for both Microsoft and their partners. Your system is tied up with DRM. And the pathetic license pretty much grants you the most narrow use that law would likely allow. How can they legally limit you from using the system virtually? Not to mention – does their bootloader still obnoxiously disrespect/overwrite any other bootloader you’ve installed?

A bunch of half-assed applications that people won’t even use – such as their new photo management application – don’t cut it. Vista just doesn’t tout a new way to use your computer, new features that are compelling, and frankly, it’s all about limiting the user in a package that pretends to make you a more powerful computer user. And ultimately, that’s my point: I *might* tolerate some of the underlying inconvenience if the system actually made me work better. But I don’t think it does. I don’t care about the photo manager, I don’t care about the contacts, I don’t care about Windows Mail, I don’t care about the new look, I don’t care about “Phishing Protection,” I don’t care about an IE sandbox, I don’t care about per-app volume sliders, I don’t care about the pathetically late fast system search, and I don’t care about address space layout randomization. In fact, the only thing I think is really good is UAC, but reports from my contacts suggest it’s as much a pain in the tail as anything, and that it may even be turned off by most users.

I also find it interesting that Coding Horror finds Vista’s best feature to be something that Spotlight on OS X has done for well over a year now.

I may end up running Vista at some point when I upgrade my work laptop. I certainly will not run it at home, I will sooner more to Linux than Windows for my personal stuff. But when I do, sadly, it will be as one of those “OEM” suckers, people who simply can’t avoid the Windows tax.

You may be tempted to call me a Mac fanboy, but if there’s any truth to that, it’s mostly because of two things: 1) I detest Microsoft’s business practices, and 2) even if I didn’t, Vista just doesn’t offer the user much in terms of improving productivity beyond a UI overhaul. Vista will not make me a better, faster, or smarter computer user. If anything, it will simply make me happier with my window decoration. There is almost nothing compelling about Vista for me, and I will certainly not be in line to get it.

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