The Future of Windows Vista

By Mike on 10:08 am

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A lot of people on other tech sites got tired of me voicing my dislike for Windows Vista. Not that I did it that much but they're full of Windows fanboys. I still use Windows XP and I have no plans on changing, not even for DirectX 10. I figure I'll eventually migrate to fuss free console gaming.

I did try Vista on my system. Microsoft had offered a free one year trial of Vista Longhorn Server Beta so I downloaded it. It needed some tweaking but I got aeroglass working. It's basically like Windows Vista business tweaked for managing file servers. Right off the bat, Vista looks very familiar. It's like a bastard child between Windows XP and Mac OS X Tiger. Arguably, Microsoft was trying to capture some of Apple's growing audience by offering similar features to Tiger such as dashboard widgets, expose, and a GPU accelerated GUI. Some elements from X windowing program Beryl, used in some Linux operating systems were also incorporated into Aeroglass such as advanced animations and transparent windows. In Vista, these features translate to little more than eye candy. Unlike expose which displays all open windows at once, which are selected through point and click, Vista makes you cycle through them. The task bar has improved to become more Dock-esque, one of the few pluses of Vista and it completely makes the cycling thing pointless since it displays an image of that window when you mouse over its position in the bar.

Graphics aside, what about other improvements. Vista claims to be more secure than XP. It certainly is, but keep in mind XP was like swiss cheese when it first came out. Most security issues anyway deal with common sense, such as not visiting porn sites and not opening unsolicited emails. XP SP2 is almost as secure as Vista with the right antivirus software. Its been shown that Windows Live OneCare anti-virus is vastly inferior to most other commercial anti-virus programs out there, even free ones such as Avast. Same goes for Windows Defender anti-spyware. These programs are often labeled as irritating since it constantly asks you to confirm your actions, as the Mac commercial famously pointed out. Most people just turn it off.
Also new to Vista is more DRM. Microsoft claims they hate DRM but they seem to be the ones who are making it increasingly intrusive. It's claimed its to appease the RIAA and MPAA, yeah right. Programs such as Windows Genuine Advantage are back in full force, but this time they cut the OS back to bare bones capability if it suspects your OS is pirated. WGA is infamous for false alarms. Trusted Computing in all its infamy is there too, all to limit what you can legally do with your PC under fair use. It actually makes more sense now to use older systems just to avoid that crap.

Going on from there is the next big upgrade, DirectX 10. So far, it's shown little improvement over DX9, which XP and Xbox 360 use. Mind you, there are very few titles that support it. There is some debate over what DX10 actually does. Some claim it simply improves rendering performance, meaning faster games. Others claim its supposed to greatly enhance visuals to near photo-real quality, as some Flight Simulator X screenshots showed. So far we've seen nothing. No solid difference between the latest DX9 titles and what little there is of DX10. Neither ATI nor nVidia seem to concerned about it either. Most of their newest generation cards are just basically added DX10 support with little to no increase in speed. High ends being the exception but most people don't buy those. The most infuriating part about DX10 is that it will never come to XP. Microsoft claims Vista is so different that XP is incapable of using DX10. I think this is BS cooked up just to sell Vista to foolish gamers. Vista's gaming performance is dismal concerning older titles. Some have problems, some don't run at all even though they were fine under XP.

Lastly, there's Vista's system requirements. It requires double the processing power than its contemporaries uses, and triple the memory. Though OS X Leopard is catching up in that department, it's providing a bevy of new features that Vista didn't. Vista features a lot of useless bloat software which drives up ram requirements.
In essence, Vista is simply a kernel update to XP. It is XP but with some fancy features that don't really work. Does Vista have a future with all its garbage. Of course, most people don't know any better. Hardware wise, PCs are cheaper and more customizable than Macs and Windows is easier to use than Linux and its console. Still, Vista has met with a certain backlash Microsoft did not expect. There was something of a Dell users revolt that forced Dell to bring back XP on new systems. Some 40,000 people voted to bring it back in a poll. Microsoft thinks that 40,000 people doesn't matter, at least that's what they said, not me. Dell also offers Ubuntu Linux on some systems, something new for a commercial computer dealer. Many of the back to school sales boastfully mention that their systems use XP. I think Microsoft is going to have a rough road in the years ahead for Vista, even though they refuse to admit it. A lot of people don't like it since XP is essentially the same but lacks the garbage. Businesses especially hate it. It's Windows ME all over again. I think Vista will eventually become dominant as Microsoft forces it on the market but you'll find more people seeking alternatives than ever before.

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