So what’s actually wrong with Vista?

May 13, 2008

Vista busy cursor The answer is “not a lot”. If you buy a modern PC with dual core processor, at least 2GB of RAM and/or a decent dedicated graphics card (as opposed to an on-board graphics chip) you are likely to be wondering what all the Vista-bashing is about. There will still be some annoyances, such as User Account Control and some video codecs causing program crashes, but you will still get an operating system that has a nice modern-looking interface and, well, generally does its job in an OK sort of way.

So how did Vista come to be the target of so much derision? To understand that you need to see Vista not from the perspective of someone buying a typical Vista PC of today, but of someone transitioning from XP a year ago.

Vista introduced new and very resource hungry user interface technology. In truth, quite a hike was needed in computing power to run Vista properly. However, PC vendors were selling a lot of PCs that were “Vista capable” but only just, in order to keep prices down. The result was that buyers would spend good money on a machine that looked good on paper but performed like a pig.

Then factor in that the only significant new selling point was the 3D graphical interface technology, but it wasn’t used all that impressively and the novelty soon wore off.

Then factor in that early on Vista was plagued by incompatibilities, specific performance issues and bugs. No worse than XP had been in its day, but that was a long time ago and people forget.

Then factor in the long gestation, the sense of anticipation, the completely over the top hype from Microsoft set against the actual experience: a slow, buggy OS (when compared with a by now very mature XP) and just a bit of not very exciting eye candy to show for it.

Then factor in some general drift in public sentiment away from Microsoft for a variety of reasons.

Then factor in the age of the blog. Blogs like this one, started by real Vista early adopters who experienced all the things described above and now had the perfect medium to share their opinions with the world. Not that I’m claiming credit for denting Vista’s reputation single handedly. But all the blogs and negative press in general have, collectively, taken their toll.

So the Vista of today is pretty much alright, but the reputational damage is done. Microsoft will want to usher in Windows 7 (AKA Vista SP2) as soon as they can in the hope of leaving their Vista woes behind them. I’m not confident about their chances.

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  1. i have been playing with Vista since the RC1 (Release Candidate 1) was released on MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network,) and i will agree that the OS has taken some serious hits from bloggers (including myself.)

    having said that… i can also say… after my recent Vista SP1 experience, i will never go back to XP!

    VISTA ULTIMATE x64 pwns all~!(for now)

    3gb ram
    2.0 ghz dual core
    256mb nvidia m570 (up to 1.5gb shared video ramz)
    100gb HD
    (my T61p owns joo)

  2. I hear you ignorante and sympathise. I’ve been there and know all about the frustration of being a Vista user. I wouldn’t have started this blog otherwise.

    All I’m saying is that as PCs get better (as they do with time) and as Microsoft fix the worst of the bugs and performance issues in dribs and drabs over time, we’re getting to the point where more and more buyers of Vista PCs will just accept what they get as “OK”. It is no longer the trial and anguish that early adopters suffered. It may not quite be the promised “Wow!”, but then again it’s not quite as much of an “Aaaargh!” as it used to be.

  3. From what you say in the article, the answer to the title’s question is “a lot” and not as you say.

    1) You have to “buy a modern PC with dual core processor, at least 2GB of RAM and/or a decent dedicated graphics card”

    So Vista is for PCs manufactured in 2008? But even in 2008, buy 1 GB of RAM is common, and integrated graphics subtract USD 200 from any PC in the market which used to be good if you did not want to play 3D actions games, but use it to work.

    2) “Vista introduced new and very resource hungry user interface technology”

    I know Windows Vista Home Basic does not have the Aero user interface, but it still needs the same amount of power as the other versions. And other operating systems have better effects and look awesome (check youtube for compiz fusion) and don’t have such high resource needs.

    3) “new selling point was the 3D graphical interface technology”

    And that is a good thing? That makes me think if there’s anything worth the upgrade besides XP is phasing out and you don’t get support anymore after some time.

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