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Welcome To The World Vista

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Well, today, apart from being Tuesday, marks the day that Windows Vista is officially released to the world. It’s been years in the making, delayed more times than I can remember, been slated left right and centre for having features cut and yet I’m sure it’ll be a huge success.

I’ve been using it since the beta versions last year and while it’s being released to the public today it has in fact been available for business and developers (like me) since November (if I remember correctly). Naturally I installed it on my work and home machines to try and live with it full time and see what it’s like (I’m curious that way). So having been a constant Vista user for a few months I thought it was about time I wrote down my thoughts.

Firstly, I’m not going to use the words “revolutionary”, “incredible” or “amazing” other than to say that it isn’t any of those. It’s just better.

The fancy graphics are indeed impressive, who wouldn’t be impressed by a 3-D windows switcher like this?

The Windows 3-D switcher

The glass-like effect of the windows is very slick as are the animations. But after a while you don’t even notice eye candy like that. I use my computer as a tool and so I’m not really that bothered how “nice” it looks, as long as it’s easy on my eye. Which brings me to my first point. It really is easier on the eye. I get eye strain when I stare at a computer for too long and have to wear glasses. Since switching to Vista, I haven’t needed to wear them once. I don’t know what they’ve done, but the text on the screen doesn’t strain my eyes any more!

Vista is like that. Compared to XP there are little improvements here and there that, on their own, don’t really amount to much. Like touch-up tools on the picture viewer, or the address bar in explorer acting like buttons so you can go up the hierarchy much more easily than before, or the Start menu being more logically laid out. But together these things add up to a better experience – it just gets in your way less like all good software should.

It’s undoubtedly more secure – I wrote before about how annoying User Account Control was, but I’m happier with it now. It doesn’t get in the way once your machine is set up and it’s reassuring that you’re running as a restricted user so if some rogue software does take over your machine, it can’t do any damage. Having said that, I haven’t had a virus or Trojan on any computer for many many years.

It’s also faster than Windows XP on the machines I use. My home desktop is an ageing dual P3 800MHz (which isn’t exactly fast by today’s standards) but Vista is noticeably snappier than XP was before it. My work machine is still as fast as always as is my laptop. It’s not often that new operating system is quicker in this day and age.

I know that an enormous amount of work has gone into Vista and underneath some huge advances have been made. But to the average user none of that is likely to make a whole lot of difference. And that’s the problem. If I had to go back to XP I could and while I might miss a thing or two about Vista, it wouldn’t matter that much to me. Make me go from XP to Windows 98 or 2000 and I’d complain a lot more!

If I had to fork out the upgrade cost out of my own pocket, I’d find it really hard to do so. At the end of the day Vista is a better operating system than XP, but it’s not really that much better on the surface and in day to day use. Trouble is though, Microsoft created a pretty good O/S in XP and to create a new one that seems as large a step forward as XP was is practically impossible.

That being said, I’m not about to go back to XP and it’s very easy to sit and say I “could”, but quite another to actually go through with it! It’s definitely a big step forward although it’s really a case of a huge number of tiny steps adding up to one big step. It’s been oft said that people hate change, yet people seem to have been expecting some revolutionary changes with Vista (most likely the Microsoft PR machine causing that perception) that it’s not living up to. However I think in reality people really want lots of small incremental changes that mean they know where they are, don’t feel lost, but make their lives easier. And I think Vista has managed to do that well, as well as looking very pleasing to the eye.

Contrast that with the revolutionary Office 2007 that’s also released today. It really is revolutionary since there are no toolbars or menus – everything has moved! When you start using it you really struggle to work out how to do anything at all. Your previous knowledge is rendered useless and you have to relearn everything from scratch. Sure, once you get there it’s better than it was before, but the learning curve is a frustrating nightmare and a lot of people have moaned about it. I think Microsoft are damned if they do and damned if they don’t at times!

Still, in many ways it’s the dawn of a new era. Only time will tell if it’s one for the better or the worse for Microsoft. If I were a betting man I’d say the former.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

7 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Yeah, “underwhelming” seems to be the word of the day to describe Vista. It’s not rock and roll, probably more like the inoffensive music you’d hear in a lift!

    Reply

  2. You really need to move over to the dark side.

    Northern Hell, I knew (by the sound of it), unknown (6).

    Reply

  3. I look at vista as progress not revolution, and there is nothing wrong with progress.

    I mean from win95 to 98 there wasnt much difference, and win98 to winME there wasnt much more except more eye candy (and more instability) but from winME to win95 there was a large difference
    same goes for winNT->win2k->xp (once again, more shinies and a decent chunk friendlier) -> vista

    all of which werent exactly revolutionary changes (except maybe NT->2k) but you go back more then 1 version and you notice the effects of progress

    Also I love the performance boosts on vista (my desktop is still XP till Im happy enough things are vista compatibly) but what used to take 5min to load on my laptop (due to having to check a large amount of files on a slow drive) and 1 min on my desktop, now under vista takes 1min on my laptop aswell, the vista installer is finally done right, and windows has finally caught up to every other operating system in getting windows file sharing to work (and the numerous nifty features everywhere such as the ones you have mentioned)
    so when the time comes I will be upgrading, atm im just waiting for the world to catch up 😀

    Reply

  4. Yep murdats, I’d have to completely agree with you there. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and anyone who was expecting some miraculous, new and incredible O/S was living in fantasy land!

    Reply

  5. Yeah, Vista is rather underwhelming. I can hardly tell I’m not running XP. Some of the improvements “under the hood” sound nice at first, but how useful are they? User Account Control for example:

    “It doesn’t get in the way once your machine is set up and it’s reassuring that you’re running as a restricted user so if some rogue software does take over your machine, it can’t do any damage.”

    I wonder if that reassurance is justified.

    As for the other security improvements, only time will tell. We might be starting over; XP is already pretty secure after years of patching by Microsoft.

    If I hadn’t lost my XP CD, I’d happily say “Welcome to the World Vista! Now go back to your mom, I’ll see you when you grow up.”

    Reply

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