After five long years, Microsoft ships a new version of Windows ...
by Lynn Eriksen
According to Microsoft recently announced initial sales of Windows Vista have significantly outpaced the initial sales of Windows XP. Other recent reports as of this writing indicate that Vista is a far more secure operating system than XP, and perhaps even other competitors. But, being a human product Windows Vista is not a perfect product. We'll discuss a few of its shortcomings here.
- User Account Control (UAC)- More than just an annoying set of pop-ups, user account control helps to keep your computing environment secure by helping prevent viruses, worms and other scary things from attacking your computer. A lot of it happens behind the scenes and is transparent to the user. However, the security pop-ups are of a great concern because of the 'I just want to work' factor: people just tend to say 'yes' to security pop-ups. Good feature, bad top level implementation. But to be fair, there aren't many other options.
- Software Compatibility - It's hard to predict what software will work and what will not. But, as a general rule of thumb, software that is not hardware dependant stands a much better chance of running. Some design, multimedia, and game software simply do not work, but most do. Some business applications can cause Vista to be unstable after installation - requiring installation in a separate Windows XP Virtual PC installation. Some software that is hardware dependant may not work at all or cause instability. Our suggestion: research on the internet to see if people are having trouble with Windows Vista and the software you use. And make sure you run the Vista Upgrade Advisor on your PC to get a report on your existing software.
- No 'Killer' Feature - Sure, Vista has a lot of nice features that make working on your computer easier, but there is not one revolutionary software application that it ships with will make you say "I gotta' have that!"
- Built in search? Nice, but Microsoft makes something similar for XP.
- IE7? There is a version available for XP - though the Vista version does have a unique set of enhancements.
- AERO User Interface? Very attractive, and much of an improvement over XP, but it's just eye candy.
- Windows Media Player 11? Nice, but available on XP.
- Security? Much more secure by default - even with the UAC issues - than XP. But XP service pack 2 is a major improvement.
Right now there just is not any compelling reason to upgrade. That will change as more software is released that can take advantage of improvements that Windows Vista brings become realized by software manufactures.
- Hardware Compatibility - When you start up Windows Vista it will take up between 500 - 600 MB of RAM. After startup it will take up 100-300 MB if possible. This is not a misprint. If you have less than one 1GB of RAM you will be transported back to the Windows 95 era of slowness. The good news is that RAM is cheap, and it really does make a difference. Now that we have the RAM issue covered, what about other hardware devices? What makes hardware work with Vista is a small piece of software created by the hardware manufacture called a 'driver'. Drivers let the OS use the hardware, and Windows Vista has a somewhat different foundation for drivers than XP. Some older hardware is no longer supported simply because the vendor no longer exists or the hardware has become 'legacy' - meaning its not worth their time to write a driver for it. Some newer hardware has difficulty because the combination of new hardware and Windows Vista has slowed the process of creating fast, reliable drivers. So what is the solution? Similar to software compatibility, we recommend internet research and running the Vista Upgrade Advisor on your PC to get a report on your existing hardware.
Well, that's not too bad of a report. Windows Vista is a good operating system, but it won't make your computing experience dramatically better than Windows XP. That said, Vista is the new Windows standard-bearer and you'll eventually have to contend with it.
To read about the Vista upgrade process see Part 1: Windows Vista: To Upgrade or Not ...
To read about the Vista features that matter see Part 2: Windows Vista: The Features that Matter
Coming Soon: What's Next for Windows.