Thursday, July 5, 2007

Vista Redux

Q: I remember that you said you weren’t a big fan of Vista. Has your view changed since you have been using it?

A: Au contraire! I like Vista. I just don’t think the average consumer should rush to upgrade their CURRENT systems to Vista. If you insist on upgrading to Vista you might learn something from my harrowing upgrade experience.

I had the wonderful opportunity to perform the upgrade twice on my office system because the first attempt didn’t work. The reasons why it didn’t work bore you to death but suffice it to say that I did something stupid. While I was busy being a bonehead, a gremlin ate my backup so I lost a lot of personal data. The lesson here is to verify that you have good backup before upgrading to Vista.

There are four retail versions of Vista to choose from which is three too many. Take your pick from Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate. If you buy the wrong one, it can be expensive or even impossible to upgrade to the one you need. Note to Microsoft’s marketing department: We consumers should not have to perform hours of research to determine what version to purchase. There should be only ONE version that has everything.

Vista doesn’t play well with slightly older stuff. I purchased a new Hewlett Packard (HP) laser printer this past November. Despite promises, HP still has not released updated software that makes this printer work well with Vista. As a result, I som etimes exper ience annoy ing prin ter problems. HP had years to prepare new Vista-ready software. This lack of support from HP is quite disturbing from a company I used to respect.

User Account Control (UAC): This is, by far, the most annoying “safety feature” the propeller heads at Microsoft have ever come up with. UAC asks for permission if you click on something that can potentially harm your computer. This is a good idea except that UAC quickly becomes an overly protective nanny. This causes the user to disable UAC which, in turn, makes Vista more prone to virus and spyware attacks which thus negates one of the prime reasons for upgrading to Vista to begin with.

Vista’s much-touted “Aero” interface gives Windows a glassy, translucent appearance and adds some cool transition effects but is really nothing more costume jewelry for your computer. It also requires far too much computing power to work well. Other operating systems such OS X from Apple have been doing similar things for years with much less hardware. Why can’t Microsoft?

There are some compelling reasons to switch to Vista once the dust settles in a few months. Those reasons include incredibly-fast hybrid hard drives and gaming enhancements. Until then, upgrade at your own peril. On the other hand if you are buying a new computer by all means go with Vista.

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