No more Vista whining, please

No more Vista whining, please

Summary: Over the weekend, I read yet another Windows Vista whine that managed to hit the Slashdot front page. In this case, it was my longtime colleague Jim Louderback, who decided to push the "Vista sucks" button as he was bailing out of PC Magazine. Here's why I'm unimpressed.

TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft

[See my follow-up post: We need less whining, more complaining about Vista]

Over the weekend I received three e-mails and one online request for comment on outgoing PC Magazine editor Jim Louderback's farewell column, in which he trashes Vista on the way out the door:

The upshot is that even after nine months, Vista just ain't cutting it. I definitely gave Microsoft too much of a free pass on this operating system: I expected it to get the kinks worked out more quickly. Boy, was I fooled! If Microsoft can't get Vista working, I might just do the unthinkable: I might move to Linux.

It's the usual mishmash of Windows whining. Sleep doesn't work. Network settings are too complicated. I'm having problems with my network. Whaa whaa whaa whaaaaaaaaa.

So what's the problem? Well, I've divined a few clues from Jim's column:

"The brand-new dual-core system I built a few months ago..."

"...hours tweaking and optimizing it..."

"strange and nonreproducible system quirks"

To understand why I'm unimpressed with yet another anecdotal review, realize that Jim's talking about a homebuilt system put together out of bleeding-edge parts (with a motherboard "designed to help overclockers tweak the most performance possible out of their components") as documented in this April story in ExtremeTech. My experience says that there's nearly a 1:1 correspondence between those who try too hard to build the ultimate system and those who complain when it doesn't work. There's a reason they call it the bleeding edge.

I also groan, deeply, when I read about all those "tweaks and optimizations." You shouldn't need to spend hours tweaking any computer, regardless of operating system, to get it working properly. In fact, any time I hear some self-professed expert talk about how much time they spent on tweaks, I brace myself for the complaints.

Oddly enough, back in April, when Jim first wrote about his experience building this system, he loved it:

I love my new system. It's fast, and surprisingly—with three fans and a power supply—really quiet.... It's also over 5.0 on Vista's performance index—an imperfect tool, but it makes me feel good anyway. ATI's catalyst drivers are still uneven, but I'm driving two monitors and both work great. ... [F]or now I'm happy. It sure took a while, but I learned a lot, and I ended up with a great new system that'll last me a long, long time.

I guess "a long, long time" is four months.

In fact, just last March Jim loved Vista, too, and he was ready to wait until October or even December for Microsoft to fix the exact same annoyances that have suddenly become unacceptable:

I've been using the shipping version of Vista for about three months, and although I'm impressed overall, it's still full of nagging annoyances.

[Whine about sleep, whine about networking, whine about video drivers, whaa, whaa, whaaaaaa]

Still, despite the problems, I do love Vista. It's absolutely the wave of the future. ...

So please, Steve [Ballmer], reconsider a first service pack. It doesn't have to offer much more than your aggregated fixes. But do deliver it by October. You played the Grinch last year, delaying Vista and stealing Christmas. This year, you can play Rudolph and save the holidays with a shiny new service pack. That way, by December most of these problems, like my old Civic, will become just fond memories.

Now, call me old school, but I always thought one of the perks of being editor of a big national computer magazine was being able to get personal support from Microsoft, and more importantly, being able to pass along what you learn to your readers. Hey, he might even have tried installing these two hotfixes, which were released two weeks before his Vista rant was published and have reportedly solved performance and compatibility issues (especially sleep-related issues) for lots of people.

And of course, this is the same guy who said:

I'm so paranoid about bots that I recently rebuilt one of my home machines because it was exhibiting strange symptoms, including weird hard drive accesses and slower-than-normal operation. This could have been caused by many things, but I was just suspicious enough to reimage the hard drive.

Hooooooooo-kay. Fine troubleshooting there, Jimbo. You're the frickin' editor of PC Magazine and you don't know how to secure your own system or scan it for malware? Pathetic. (And don't miss the part in that March story where Jim explains why he doesn't need to use encryption on his wireless network. Yikes!)

Lessons learned:

All anecdotes are equal, but some are more equal than others. The Vista system I'm working on right now sleeps and resumes perfectly, It's a model network citizen. It doesn't crash. I've been amazingly productive with it. I have two notebooks and three more desktop systems working equally well, and I could introduce you to friends and neighbors who tell nearly identical stories. You won't read any of those Vista success stories on Slashdot or Digg, though, because they don't fit into the accepted narrative.

Vista-bashing is the ticket to online success. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I could literally double my income if I went into the Vista-bashing business. Want to guess how many times Jim Louderback's writing was featured on Slashdot in the last four years? Only once, until he pushed the "Vista sucks" button.

The new standard of success for Windows Vista is absolute perfection. Any problems that occur, regardless of whether they're actually caused by a lack of drivers, by faulty hardware, by incompatible software, or by counterproductive "optimizations," are Windows Vista's fault. No, Vista is not perfect, but issues are inevitable when dealing with millions of combinations of components in the Windows ecosystem. If perfection is your standard, you should not build your own PC, and you should definitely not run Windows Vista on it.

I can't wait to read Jim's account of his experiences switching to Linux. It should be pure comedy gold.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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  • True dat!

    Vista has been blamed for everything from the War in Iraq to Global Warming. The funny part is many of it's most vocal detractors haven't even tried it.
  • Poor, poor, Ed

    You sure are pissed. PC Magazine isn't hiring?

    The "whine" about Vista is straightforward: in daily use it behaves as if it was written by people who were more concerned with troweling over problems than designing software correctly.

    Any idiot can decide on first blush that something is just dandy: who doesn't love that new car smell? But after being nagged by the OS and after having it dodge your best efforts to make real use of its flagship features you might decide after all that, hey, this thing is way more trouble than it's worth.

    This thing is way more trouble than it's worth. Next time write a substantive column about something relevant.
    • PC Mag will be lucky to be in business this time next year

      "PC Magazine isn't hiring?"

      I used to work for Ziff-Davis (no relation to ZDNet). The company is in serious financial trouble.

      Like I said, if I wanted to maximize my income, at least for the short term, I would go into the Vista-bashing business. I certainly wouldn't go work for a dying magazine.
      Ed Bott
      • That would be too bad

        PC Mag is a good reference, and I have been a subscriber for years. Sounds like sour grapes on your part. We don't need you to bash Vista to know the truth.
        • No, they're in financial trouble

          You can read about it yourself. Just look for recent news on the Ziff-Davis debt restructuring.
          Ed Bott
          • OT All tech press is sliding down the slippery slope

            No one has found the magical formula to keep tech press growing or even stable these days. ZDNet used to be affiliated with ZiffDavis (many, many moons ago) and at one time was Cnet's biggest competitor (maybe 2000 or so). In the end, ZDNet and Cnet couldn't both survive so they merged. I'm no stock expert, but even Cnet's chart isn't very pretty (and sorry to hear about the SEC probe). (Can't say much about ZiffDavis because it's a private company)
            Long time print pubs have passed (I still have the last issues of Byte, The Industry Standard, InfoWorld and others) and I miss them. Industry publications, both in print and on-line are flagging right along with interest in the industry itself.
            Who knows, maybe the next administration will be jazzed about tech and be the spark of a new life in the industry.
          • It's not just "tech press" it's "publications" in general

            Newspapers especially but all kinds of printed materials with the possible exception
            of the occasional phenom like Harry Potter print is in a terrible state and change is a

            Pagan jim
          • I use to love hard copy

            but the morons priced the publications so high that I stopped buying. Even paperback books are way over priced considering the cost of printing and that they are a luxury not a necessity. <br> When a magazine wants 8.99 or more for one copy (newsstand price) they lost my business. I know they do it to get people to subscribe but even magazines I use to subscribe to I first bought single copies for a while to see if I liked them enough to sign up for a subscription.<br><br>I remember when Computer Shopper magazine was around $2.50 newsstand price and was in my area about 1" thick. Now it's about a quarter of that size but costs four times as much! Corporate greed is whats killing the business, that and share holders unreasonable expectations.
          • You forgot the real kicker

            When a magazine wants 8.99 or more for one copy (newsstand price) and more than 50% of it is advertisements, they've lost my business.
          • BYTE was trash

            At least the last years were. The last time that I enjoyed reading Byte was in the early-mid 80's. When they dumbed down the magazine to appeal to a larger audience I lost interest.
  • Why Vista War?

    When I read Jim L's assessment I compared his description to my use of it on a quad and couldn't relate to anything Jim said. Vista to me is the next iteration of XP and it works just as well. The UI changes aren't the OS, of course, they're just UI changes. We're told there are internal rewrites that provide security improvements, but those kind of improvements are invisible to me as a user. But everything I can see works at least as well as XP.

    Sometimes I get the feeling these wars against Vista (more specifically Microsoft) are only a subterfuge by people who simply love to destroy (anything) and are comfortable hating things. These complaines should get a life.

    How can any product on the face of the earth matter? Life is too short to have strong opinions that have nothing to do with eternal life values.
    • Amen

      "Life is too short to have strong opinions that have nothing to do with eternal life values."

      True enough. It's sometime fun to read these blogs and talkbacks, but it's often disturbing to see how seriously some people take this stuff.

      Carl Rapson
      • What the heck is an "eternal life value"?

        Besides we are talking about human nature. We humans are fairly simple if we
        have food, shelter, and relative health then our minds tend to wander. Our
        survival is assured so we tend to go off on all sort of things that are not important
        in all reality but still we can imagine them to be. Take the guy who loves his car
        and spends a lot of time and money on it's upkeep. Society collapses tomorrow
        just how long do you tink he'd give one wit about said car?

        I suppose we all could become monk like a spend our lives contiplating God and
        such but I'm not a believer so that's out for me anyway. And I tend to think even
        for most believers the surest way to loose one's faith is too spend too much time
        thinking about it...heh heh heh...seriously. I love cheesecake and I could eat it 24
        \7 but I'm sensible enough to know it's not good for me and eventually I would
        grow SICK of it and not want to see or hear about cheesecake again. I think that is
        true for most things even things we love most of all too much of it and it tends to
        wear on us. Besides I've lived long enough to know I can achieve me goals without
        help from the image of a God........all I need to be is a good man and I don't need
        no god for that.

        Pagan jim
        • where did you see someone

          going on 24/7 about faith? The guy mentions one thing and you are all over it. That's good you are proud to be a non believer. I'm not about to try and change that, but what I hate is the idea people that "believe" have less to contribute to society and reality than atheists. Many of the greatest discoveries of this world were done so by Christians. <br>
          I guess all i can say is where did the idea of "good" originate? If we evolved from apes, how did the idea of what is good behavior and what is bad evolve? How would it have been known? It can't be inherent if we evolved from monkeys whe are only here by random chance that seaweed grew and evolved into thinking humans with emotions and a sub conscious etc. Where did the sub conscious come
          Yeah, lot's of questions but when your days are numbered doesn't it seem like hedging your bet might be smart? If there is nothing, then nothing changes, but just the outside chance there is, why stand defiant to it? Surely nobody has a clue. <br><
          You know what else if funny. Scientific theory changes year to year sometimes. Dating techniques are found to flawed. Creatures that were said by scientists to have been extinct for billions of years are found alive and kicking off the coast of Japan....seems like every year it's discovered the creatures supposedly only existing on a planet that is billions and billions of years old....pop up alive and well. <br>
          What is really amazing, for every time scientific theory is proven wrong, nobody has every proven one statement in the bible to be conclusively wrong. Not the dates, not the places, not the events. In fact they are being proven more and more now....but never disproven. given the track records of both, that silly book seems to be the only one with an unblemished track record. How silly is that? <br>
          Plus look at our Sun. It's a young star. It's still mostly hydrogen. Given the size of our star, it could not have been formed and burning for more than roughly 15,000. years. Which is about the age of the Earth. There is nothing to disprove that. <br>
          There are just my opinions and not said in a strong manner. Only stating what I know....or think i know.
          • I was giving an "example" not about he going on and on

            because he does not. I was showing that anything 24\7 can cause a direct
            counter reaction in my case if I ate cheesecake 24\7 I'd soon grow tired of it even
            HATE it. It's the classic Minister's Daughter joke a girl raised in a conservative
            christian environment is the wildest vixen you could meat!!!! heh heh heh....that is
            why I always felt kind of sad I was not lucky enough to go to HS in the bible
            belt...:P And I used that as an example of the whole search for "eternal life values"
            or some such sure people should look into this as part of a whole life but let's not
            get carried away shall we? I mean yes people do get too serious about cars and
            computers and such but you can even get too serious about spirituality and you
            very well may drive not only youself away from you goal like me and cheesecake
            but you could drive those you care most about away as well like your children who
            are cheesecaked out about the same time heir hormones start to kick in...a deadly

            Pagan jim
          • still don't understand why

            you keyed on it coming at you relentlessly. You turned his response into how too much of anything can turn you off. I didn't see the connect. Taht's all.
          • I think I was trying to say......

            "All things in moderation" sure one can spend sometime with his car or computer
            and yes devleop a liking for said. Sure someone should spend sometime looking for
            greater meaning even if in the end they do not find said the search makes us all
            better. But there is room enough in everyone's lives as long as they have the basics
            to do it all and enjoy.....

            Pagan jim
          • Jesus want's his spirit back.

            He has decided you are unworthy to share in it.
          • Being a good man...not difficult to know.

            First as I understand it societies as a whole never condoned killing or murder and
            theft at least amoungst themselves even cheating on one's spouse was fround
            upon looked as another form of theft. These concepts were not Jewish nor
            Christian to being with but rather simple rules to prevent a society from tearing
            itself apart. Can you imagine something like that living in a collective of people
            with no regulation against killing and theft? Come on it just would not have and
            could not have happend and we have plenty of record to show non jewish and non
            chrisstian societies were ruled by laws and traditions that regulated such. How do
            I know I am a good man without God or a claimed manual by said? Trial and error
            my friend I live, I learn and I adapt to the knowledge and experiance I gain from
            said. I don't claim to be perfect but that does not bother me for I can learn., and I
            don't need no book to tell me. No not going to stone anyone either no matter
            what a book says.

            As for the bible sure it has it's historical points and burried towns and such are
            being discovered to back the record up to a degree. But I don't see a lot of
            evidence to back up other claims like David and Goliath for instance. In other
            world you can prove that towns and cites existed but I still find it difficult to prove
            actual events...the whole fish and loves thing for instance. Curing of the lepers.

            Yes science is in a constant state of flux and I LIKE that about it. It learns and
            adapts makes theorys and therims and has to change when never information
            presents itself and yes the old saw about monkeys has changed quite a bit as new
            evidence presents itself in fact I don't think chimps are a direct decendant but
            rather a branch that went one dirrection and we another. And science and fossils
            have shown that there have been many branches that have existed and ended and
            now we have US, various chimps and monkeys and even great apes and
            gorillas...all branches but our common ancestor is in the past or at least I think
            that is more closely aligned with the theory today but again it's not a belief but a
            theory and it can or eventually will be proven or changed as new evidence is

            As for creatures I love the finding of new creatures both those thought to be long
            dead and or those that are new all together. Still you notice they are smallish
            creaturs who found living environments where man has yet to invade and are in
            very limited quantities no wonder they were thought to be extinct one can hardly
            blame science. Find me a T-Rex and I'll be impressed.....No wait you can find a T-
            rex or at least a relative grab a chicken. Back in the day scientists thought they
            were all giant lizards (Knowing lizards as I do I did not myself think this possible
            something to do with heat and size and seeing my iquana react to having to little
            warmth it made no sense to me) now science see's most as being a ancient
            relative of the bird and there for being more warm blooded then ever before and
            the bird is an excellent example of adaptation and evolution when conditions
            change you either adapt or die.

            As for the Sun I will have to defer to the majority of legitimate scientific evidence
            and theory on that one because I an no expert but I do know this much many who
            claim to have a doctorate in front of their names and a scientific degree have turnt
            out not to be so. Take the guy who owned a computer outfit I worked for called
            himself Dr blankedy blank. Now many people thought his Dr was in computer
            science because that was his buisness but not it was in Oceanography he just did
            not tell anyone the difference and he got a lot of respect and assumtion of
            knowledge that he frankly did not deserve. Still I will admit I just don't know for I
            am no Dr.

            Pagan jim
          • Of course it's not difficult to know

            you have a soul. Other creatures don't necessarily. <br>
            you know, you talk like someone is trying to convince you the bible holds all the knowledge of the world and if you believe it science is not needed. You say thing like, I don't need no book for that etc. Well precisely, you don't. The bible talks about how some will be doctors, teachers scientists. Christianity is not the opposite of Science in other words. Christians love science and what can be discovered as much as an aethiest. Why wouldn't they? <br>
            Nobody knows for sure why we know the differnce between good and bad. there had to be a point that life didn't, so what caused it to know? What caused it to be able to think? And feel and love? A cosmic accident? what is the universe? It's endless and will never be known to man how to understand something that never ends. It's not possible in our mortal roles in a world with boundries. Even if we could travel great distances in space we could never understand eternity. Yet it exists. It has to, how could it not? Knowing that there is such a thing as eternity that exists outside of science and could never be a part of science, is a large clue to me about something. I don't know for sure about anything, but questioning things is fine. That's our human nature. But there will always be eternity. You think you will only have one span of time so small it can't be measured by eternity (there is no time in eternity) and that's it? you die and rot and eternity goes on eternally without you or that thing inside you that tells what love feels like?
            (not taht kind Jim....come on be serious for a moment. ;) )