"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Windows Vista arrives with a resounding "thud"

In case you missed it, yesterday was the much-hyped launch of Microsoft's new operating system for personal computers, Windows Vista. But despite the hoopla, most of the world greeted the new arrival with a collective yawn. Major retailers across the country stayed open until the wee hours Tuesday morning, prepared for the sort of demand that accompanied the launch of previous Microsoft operating systems like Windows 95 and XP. However, crowds were small and only a few hard-core geeks stood in line to get the software as the clock ticked down to midnight.

Apple Computer, who have for years maintained only about a 5% share of the world computer market, used the occasion to launch a series of ads on its web site directly attacking the new O/S from Redmond. In one, a character personifying the PC is dressed as a hospital patient, saying he's set to undergo major surgery to upgrade to Vista. He then walks off, telling the Mac character that if he doesn't come back, Mac can have his peripherals. Apple asks visitors, "Why upgrade to Vista when you can upgrade past it?"

But make no mistake, if you're one of the 95% of computer users running on the Windows platform, you will be using Vista eventually, most likely when you purchase your next PC. Manufacturers are rolling out new hardware with Vista pre-installed, and Microsoft estimates the software will be on millions of hard drives in the next two years. The company contends that because Vista is such a huge improvement, users will inevitably say "Wow" when they see the slick 3-D graphical user interface and document icons that give at-a-glance previews.

So far, though, most reviews have been much less enthusiastic, calling Vista "a triumph of hype over substance". Underneath the glitzy "wow" graphics, there's not much to get excited about. There are widespread reports of early adopters running into serious activation glitches that are making them none too happy. Those who wish to do a clean install, as opposed to upgrading their present system, are being forced to jump through frustrating and unnecessary licensing hoops by Microsoft.

Frankly, most users (myself included) are perfectly satisfied with the current version of our operating systems. XP was such a huge improvement in stability and function over its Windows 98 predecessor, that there seems to be no compelling reason to switch. However, a free upgrade to Vista came with my recent Toshiba laptop purchase, so I suppose I'll have a look at it if for no other reason than out of curiosity, and post a review here.

Anyone reading this have any experience with Vista so far?


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