This Halloween, let's all celebrate what we're really feeling: The Wicked Vista is DEAD!
In the United States, we've got a bunch of frivolous holidays.
I've always regarded Halloween as a particularly frivolous holiday, one in which we encourage our children to engage in mischief and vandalism, of which the original purpose has been co-opted by business, like Easter and Valentine's day, all of which seem to be of a single mindset which is to support the mass-market confectionery and High Fructose Corn Syrup industry.
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If you aren't an adult, I also find Halloween parties to be rather pointless, because I think people beyond a certain age should never dress up in a silly costume, particularly if they aren't paid to do so. I mean, you can still have a party without putting a costume on. Just add food and alcohol and loud music with uninhibited people, and you've got a formula for success. No Costume Required.
There is also the issue of what exactly we're supposed to be celebrating on Halloween. Sure, I know about all this Celtic background and how it morphed from All Saints Day, but the modern tradition somewhat escapes me. I've always felt that it never had a purpose.
Valentine's Day I can relate to, in that you are being reminded to express love for your sweetheart -- but I get very annoyed that restaurants price gouge and people get pressured into spending money on dumb throwaway gifts in order to express affection, whereas folks really should be giving people they care about reminders of their love and affection all the time.
Easter, despite the pagan iconography that has been overlayed on top of mass chocolate egg and peeps consumption, still remains religiously important to Christians. But the American celebration of Halloween? I don't get it. At least the Mexicans have a real purpose to Dia de los Muertos, it's dead ancestor worship, a modern continuation of a practice that originated with the Aztecs in Mesoamerica thousands of years ago.
Dia de los Muertos has a lot of potential. I suggest that from now on, or at least for the next decade, that we focus our celebration on the passing of dead operating systems -- especially the one we loved to hate the most, Windows Vista.
With the launch of Windows 7 last week on October 22, Microsoft put the final nail in the coffin for Windows Vista, its well-intentioned but poorly implemented predecessor.
Vista was despised almost immediately after launch, due to the fact that Microsoft tried to ram it down everyone's throats, this despite that the software wasn't ready for prime time.
Many drivers for key peripherals and devices weren't available until almost a year after the product's initial release, the software used up considerably more resources than Windows XP and had major performance and compatibility issues, and the software just plain wasn't tested widely enough or by the right people.
New UI behavior such as the much-maligned UAC (which still remains but is far more tolerable in its default behavior with Windows 7) drove end-users crazy. But perhaps worst of all, the OEMs weren't involved with the software from the beginning of the design process, they were effectively told to suck it up and certify their hardware.
There are some that would like to blame Vista's failure on bad press, or the slowing of the economy. I certainly published my share of articles slamming Vista, as did many other writers covering the technology industry. To be fair, with the two Service Packs, Vista definitely improved as far as responsiveness and resource utilization, but the damage was already done. The recession was simply just an accelerant for what amounted to an uncontrollable coal fire that had already started underneath Redmondville long before. It was time to sweep Windows Vista under the rug and wipe the slate.
To Microsoft's credit, they went back and had an intervention and took corrective action. They went through the source code of all of Vista -- the kernel, the driver architecture and most of the UI -- and did a bottom up stack trace of all the things that were eating up resources and optimized the heck out of it. Instead of telling the OEMs to suck it up, they brought them all in and had in-depth discussions about what went wrong with Vista and what the PC vendors really wanted to deliver to their customers. As not to leave anything to chance, Microsoft beta tested the software with millions of installations.
The result was Windows 7 -- the Vista we should have really gotten nearly three years ago.
I still have a number of issues with Windows 7 from a UI perspective that I would like to see fixed, but they really could be chalked up to annoyances that can be altered with a few third-party tweaks, such as the lack of "Classic" Start Menu mode.
Overall, I've been very happy with Windows 7, and I've migrated all of my personally-owned Windows-based systems to it, although admittedly this is because I refreshed a bunch of hardware and I wanted to make a clean break. Still, I'm not so certain that it makes sense to move to Windows 7 if you are happy with the way XP is working on your current system.
For those of you who are current Vista users and aren't eligible for a free Windows 7 upgrade with a recent system purchase, it's up to you to determine whether or not the upgrade fee is actually worth it. As I said, the Windows Vista Service Packs do alleviate the majority of the issues that plagued the system during it's early release phases.
Windows 7 goes a long way to re-establishing consumer confidence with Microsoft's products, but I am still of the opinion that the OS upgrade should be provided at minimal cost or free of charge to the consumer, particularly for the early-adopting Windows Vista users that do not have a free entitlement. While I often criticize the company for their tying of their software to their hardware platform, Apple really did the right thing by making the Mac OS X Snow Leopard upgrade $30 for just about every current Mac user.
If Microsoft did the same thing for all of the legacy Vista users, we could all just move on and pretend Vista didn't happen. Heck, why not distribute the download entitlement link at Staples and other retailers with a pack of 5 recordable DVDs along with down-loadable freeware ISO burning software (DeepBurner Free, perhaps?) for $30.00 with online-only documentation. It would get people into stores at the very least, and maybe they'd even think of buying other durable goods or even a new PC.
Are you going to celebrate this Halloween by installing Windows 7? Talk Back and Let Me Know.