Vista is taking body blows

Vista is taking body blows

Summary: I've been on a bit of a blog and RSS hiatus the past couple of days and have been working my way through tales of destruction and distress (the 365 outage, not Lindsay Lohan's latest episode), news, and views. In my reading, there's a recurring theme that beats louder all the time. People are just not loving Vista.

TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft

I've been on a bit of a blog and RSS hiatus the past couple of days and have been working my way through tales of destruction and distress (the 365 outage, not Lindsay Lohan's latest episode), news, and views. In my reading, there's a recurring theme that beats louder all the time. People are just not loving Vista.

James Fallows, one of my all-time favorite columnists, just wrote that he's going back to XP. Valleywag, (almost) always amusing, albeit at the expense of accuracy from time to time, reports that the official release of SP1 for Vista appears to be slated for a 2009 release. And David Berlind really nails it in his discussion about the way the world is changing around Microsoft when he writes:

Today, I’m a user of both Windows XP and Windows Vista and while I remain convinced that Vista is a better OS than XP, my usage of XP serves as a constant reminder that when it comes to getting my work done, I’m not getting it done any faster or better in Vista. In fact, because of the way several things have been moved around in Vista, and because of the way Internet Explorer 7, in an effort to protect us from ourselves, locks up the Web in a chastity belt, I often find myself being slowed down by Vista. It may only be a matter of time before I get used to it (and figure out how to reconfigure IE7 with the necessary wiggle room). But the bottom line is that (a) I’m definitely not more productive and (b) if I finally get to a point where I am more productive, it won’t be by much.

Nothing I've read (or written) sums it all up quite as well as this paragraph. I like Vista for a lot of reasons. The visual appearance is great. The new bells and whistles (the sidebar and gadgets, integration of RSS, and built-in productivity apps like Calendar and Contacts for example) are very nice although such things have been available long before Vista on both XP, some via third parties, and on the Mac and Linux. But when it comes to actually getting things done, Vista feels like it's getting in my way far more often than XP or the Mac OS (both of which I continue to use daily).

Having left the world of full-time gainful employment for the juggling career that is independent writing and consulting, productivity is my paramount concern. I have too many projects running concurrently to put up with an OS that creates stumbling points or friction in my work. And based on my soon-to-be-patented curses-per-hour algorithm, Vista is anything but friction-free. I recently wrote about my frustrations with something as simple as using removable USB memory stick. Given that I do a fair amount of gadget and software testing, I can say with some authority that installing device drivers and applications is not easier or faster in Vista. and even basic things like hibernating, starting up, and shutting down feel like they take a lot longer than in XP.

The luster of shiny new-ness wears off quickly these days and I'm on the fence with Vista. While I'll keep it on the Lenovo X61 Tablet PC for sure (the new Tablet bits in Vista are that good), I'm less certain about some of my other Windows-powered devices. I'm about ready, time permitting, to repartition the hard drive on the Asus R2H UMPC to set up a dual boot with XP because Vista is just so broken on that device in ways both large (overall performance) and small (too many modal dialogs that are too big for the native screen resolution).

I don't think Microsoft can afford the pace they're setting. Vista SP1 needs to be officially released sooner than 18 months from now. And Windows 7? I'm not even going to think about that for a while.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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  • And the bogus Valleywag claim gets yet more mentioning

    The 2009 claim for SP1 is completely bogus. The guy (or his "source") pulled that out of his rear end. It's not coming in 2009, it's coming whenever Server 2008 RTM's, because Vista SP1 and Server 2008 are the same thing. How can people not understand that?
    • I think the problem is ...

      that columnists just need something to write about, and vague impressions of Vista feeds into the fascination for or against MS that results in mouse clicks and eyeballs.

      I don't really see anything in your article or others that tries to do some useful analysis to put your finger on exactly what you feel "gets in the way" with Vista. How much of this is just the learning curve that naturally happens when transitioning from something old to something new? How much of it is just a reaction to UAC?

      After long years of editorials slamming Windows for lack of security, now better security arrives, and yes it imposes some barriers, and yes it causes some pains. But to compare honestly, to have really have spent time with Vista itself getting a task done on equal ground to doing the same with XP, you need to be through your driver issues and your setup, and to have worked with the new system enough that it's just not unfamiliarity with the new that colors your opinion of your productivity. And you need to look at what types of task have different productivity dimensions -- if what you're doing involves a lot of desktop search, I have trouble believing you're doing that more efficiently in XP.

      With all the news about how the OS doesn't matter anymore, it's strange that there can still be such strong opinions about how even such small usability changes in teh OS can affect productivity. I mean, all you're using Windows for is to startup your Web browser, right? ;)
      • The real problem is...

        Yes, but does UAC actually have to blacken my screen, and then grey everything all active windows out. Just to ask my permission for something to install? Also moving add/remove program out of the control panel folder and into the menu bar of the "Computer" window, is just as stupid. Having used Vista since launch, sometimes I think that MS changed somethings, just so they can say they changed it, not because of any real human ease of use reasons.

        IE 7 is the most frustrating to use web browser. Talk about moving UI elements around for no real reason. The switch to crap icons that make no sense unless you mouse over them and memorize them is bad. The computer SHOULD be working how YOU the user need it to, not YOU working the way the OS wants you to. That is MS's biggest flaw in their UI strategy. They make you work their way, instead of being flexable enough to work your way.

        I hope Vista totally tanks, it is really MS's worst OS from a UI point of view. Perhaps if enough people complain to the computer manufacturers enough, we will see a backslide to XP or a choice of XP vs Vista. MS really needs to learn to listen to it's users and not be big brother and decide to do stuff it's way.
        • re: The real problem is...

          ...The computer SHOULD be working how YOU the user need it to, not YOU working the way the OS wants you to...

          Oddly enough, that has long been one of the strengths of Linux, the fact that is is easily configurable for the end user to set up exactly as he likes. When Apple went BSD as the core of their OS, I hoped to see them incorporate that same flexibility, but unfortunately, for whatever reason, they elected not to do so.
          • Linux is easier to configure than.... what?!

            Why do you think there are so few Linux Desktops? Do you think it's marketing? Do you think that people are naturally afraid of an OS that's (for the most part) free? You probably think that people are afraid of compatibility...?

            Or is it POSSIBLE that Linux ISN'T as easy for most people to install / configure / use?

            I mean seriously. I'm not a Mac Head but I at least can recognize the fact that I can take a Mac out of the box and it just works. All of it. Network, graphics, printer, everything. Windows isn't as easy but I've installed Windows and I've installed Linux and I find it very hard to believe that anyone finds it easier to install/configure/use Linux than they do Windows. And if it weren't true, I can guarantee you that Linux would be king of the desktop world and Microsoft would have been LONG out of business - marketing or no marketing.
          • How long since you installed Linux?

            It must be a couple years or more since you last installed Linux? Check out distrowatch, pick a distro that sounds like something you could work with, download, burn the CD (or DVD), and install it. Then come back and tell me how difficult that was.

            Linux Mint took me all of 15 minutes to install, and EVERYTHING works! I'm using an old Dell Inspiron 2650, but with a memory and an HD upgrade. I dual-boot with XP, only because my AutoTap OBDII has not yet been ported to Windows. But the Linux system works better, faster, and looks better than XP.

            I agree that everything on your Mac works, but so does everything on my Mint box, and it cost a hell-uv-a-lot less.

            I personally think, having the choice is the most important thing.

            With Windows AND Mac, choice is extremely limited. That, in itself doesn't make either of them BAD OSs, just not very configurable. I've just heard and read too many bad reports about Vista to even consider giving it a try, and I'm not about to waste money on Apple when I can get all the functionality I need with this or any of my other systems.

            As for the popular assumption that there are "so few Linux desktops," the top 100 Linux distros listed on distrowatch are getting a combined hit total of more than 28,000 per day. I'm sure some of those people are taking one or more Linux distros for a ride.

            There most definitely IS something Windows has to offer that Linux and Mac don't have. That is the extra 5-20 minutes after booting up you get to wait for security updates before you can be productive. That's fun! Do you get more or less of that with Vista?

            Another important issue is stability, and of course Windows is famous for NOT being stable. But my experience with XP has been that it is very stable, maybe not quite as stable as my Linux distros, but certainly far better than any previous versions from M$. And I know that the Mac has improved it's stability with the introduction of OSX, so my take on the whole thing is this: If it works for you - use it, if not - take a look around. Today there are many more choices than ever before, and there's bound to be something available that fits very good if not perfect.
          • I meant to say...

            that OBDII has not been ported to Linux!
          • Yes, Linux IS...

            easier to configure.When it comes to configuring services, preferences, multiple 3D desktops, etc, NOTHING is easier, because nothing else will do some of the things that are simple on Linux boxen.This is the context in which joe6pack_z was addressing the issue, you can configure Linux to do nearly anything, while the UI on both a Mac or a Windows machine just sorta is what it is. Sure, a Windows machine from Best Buy just works, as does a Mac. The point is that they only work ONE WAY. That is just fine if you like the machine determining how you work, but if you are a certified control freak like some of us, Linux is just the ticket
          • I think you've missed something...

            "while the UI on both a Mac or a Windows machine just sorta is what it is"

            Um, no. The Windows UI is infinitely configurable, and if you don't like it you can REPLACE it, Stardock comes to mind. :)

            While I do own a pair of Macs running OS X, I'm not really conversant with alternate UIs, although I believe one or two do exist.

            However, even if I grant you only one OS X UI exists, complaining there's only one misses an important point--one that's true for Windows as well.

            The OS X UI is well thought out--and a lot of effort went into making it easy, aesthetic, and NEUTRAL. Remember the Mac is aimed at the creative types among us and the UI is designed to very much fade away, so as not to distort the visuals of the work being performed, photos or what have you.

            Add to that both Windows and OS X have to appeal to a broad audience--one that for the most part just wants things to WORK. If they can change the wallpaper, most people are happy.

            In other words, the two UIs were designed by PROFESSIONALS, to follow standards and guidelines and well-known behavioral principles.

            Given some of the absolute horrors I've seen people inflict on themselves with just the ability to change screen colors and fonts, I shudder to think what they would do with even wider freedom.

            And I've run enough Linux programs to know Linux considers the UI to be--um, how can I put this?--a place for the programmer to declare independence from the tyranny that is UI standards. (laughing)
          • When was the last time you installed anything?

            The last few installs of Kubuntu I've run went easier than any Windows installs ever.

            The biggest difficulties are getting third party apps working right. You still can't use adept to install the Flash plugin. You have download the tar from Adobe and use their Micky Mouse Linux utility.

            You can't hang that on Linux, that's all Adobe.

            The other difficulty is proprietary codecs, especially f'ing QuickTime. WMV's are a little less of a problem. You also have to install mp3 support.

            As long as there are proprietary codecs, there will be problems getting some media files to play on Linux. Just the way it is.

            Those problems are minor and easily solved compared to getting Vista to run right.
      • IE7 Is wonderful

        As it has been said before you must get used to the interface. There is a big difference between a Toyota Prius, and a Hummer. They both have all the required elements to drive, but you have to drive them differently. The Hummer will NOT turn as good as the Toyota Prius. You can get used to it, once you drive it, and ensure your seating is comfortable.

        IE7 and Vista works well. I myself turned off the UAC, because I do not need it. It really is that simple. My brother in law and sister however needs this feature badly.
        • IE7 is not as wonderful as you think it is

          IE7 has issues, you really need to read a little about IE7 and these articles are not based on MS bashing. Almost any forum will be able to tell you why IE7 is not a browser to use as it has some serious security and basic software issues that MS will admit has not been able to address. FireFox is a better browser by far but it would be better if you read some reviews on browsers and come to your own conclusion which will be a lot different than the one you have now. However, if you are happy with it, don't want to know the real issues IE7 has, then just ignore this post as I came to realize there is no point in arguing with some as they will just bring you down to their level and beat you to death with experience. All I ask is, take a look and know your options as there are better ones than IE7
          • I do use Firefox as well.

            I use both Firefox and IE 7. I have not had problems with either of them. I go back and forth with both of them. I have no ryhme or reason as why I choose one over the other.

            I do like FireFox download manager, however IE7 in Vista downloads files much faster then Firefox.

            So I just open one of them up at random and do whatever.
          • Simply untrue and misleading. Not trying to "beat" you down...

            but IE in protected mode on vista has already proven itself to be as safe or safer than any browser on the market. Sure it has problems, but so does Firefox. Most, including Firefox users, are also concerned because version 3.0 is getting very very bloated and even less secure. <br>
            There is no data or facts or anything, unless you care to post them, that Firefox is any safer than IE. Esp. on Vista in protected mode but even on XP. They both have their downsides and upsides. Firefox is very vulnerable if you allow scripting, so most turn off scripting. You can lock down IE in the same manner. <br>
            Enough of the IE and Microsoft bashing already. Before they were unsecure, now david B. is writing about how IE on Vista is TOO secure.....Microsoft will not win in the eyes of most zdnet posters. The population on here is around 80% non Microsoft to 20% Microsoft. that is why things seem so "bad" for Microsoft. 3 of every 4 people are bashing Windows. The remaining one person, who does use Windows and likes it, is highly unlikely to be outright "bashing" Linux (check out bug tracking sites for yourself on whether linux is better than windows) in their posts. I'm not bashing Linux of Firefox. Both are good software packages. However, they are in no way superior to Windows. <br>
            Then you also need to look at functionality. Microsoft, during it's days with security problems also had the most functional system available. You pay a price of functionality with security and there is a fine line. I think Microsoft has done as well as anyone could at finding that fine line. <br>
            Malware software is still free. You setup AVG and windows defender on your XP box and you don't need to worry again. Not anymore than you would worry on a linux box. In fact, I don't use AV software cause it tends to use too much resource. As long as I run as a limited user and use a little common sense, I have never ever had a piece of malware...a problems on this XP machine in around 6 years now. It's very fast. It's got 768 MB of RAM and an old pentium 4 3Ghz processor. It's a toshiba laptop. Solid as can be....never a moments's trouble.
            Most of all, IE7 is much faster than Firefox. esp. compared to FF 3.0, it's quite quicker. But either is fine, just treat with common sense and any user will be fine. Microsoft has done a lot to educate it's user base over the years. is an endless library of information...great information. I've never had to call MS support over anything. I can always find an answer to any problem I have encountered, or others I've helped. Never had to wipe and reload. also has endless free learning tools, such as great webcasts by some of the premier minds in IT today.
          • A great free Antivirus Program

            aVast. It is free. You do have to register the free version and get a lincense key, but it is 100% free.
          • re FF 3.0 beta

            FF 3.0 is not an official release yet so comparing it ti IE 7 is misleading. FF with the NoScript plugin is a better browser than IE any day. And when FF 3.0 is Officially released you can bet they will have fixed most of the beta issues raised so far. You can't be comparing beta software to an official release that has already had several patches issued!!!
        • You just made his point

          Vista DOESN'T work well out of the box...FOR YOU.
          Old Timer 8080
      • and yes it causes some pains...

        Dear sir
        I would like to invite you to join us at the MAA (Masochists Association of America), I enjoyed reading about accepting pain as an essential aspect of our life and computing experience, MAA needs people like you.

        Horatio P.
      • Sorry but it's not that simple

        I've been using Vista for over a year (and Office 2007 longer than that) so no, this isn't just learning curve. And the point in writing this was not exhaustive analysis or a laundry list of complaints. It's pretty clear from the long list of comments that there are a lot of people experiencing the same dissatisfaction with Vista I'm having. It is a slower, less productive place to work, all of its shiny newness notwithstanding.

        This goes way beyond the interrupts UAC throws in your face which is clear in the comments. Vista simply doesn't feel finished. And whether the 2009 release date for SP1 is right (unlikely) or wrong, Microsoft is doing itself no favors by avoiding putting a firm timeline out for users. Maybe it's hangover from the Vista release death march. I don't know.

        What is clear - in these comments and across the web and blogosphere - is that Vista is not making a significant number of people happy. Perhaps the volume is higher because there are so many more outlets for opinion to be shared than when XP was released. My personal experience is that I was immediately productive and excited about using XP (and even more so when SP1 came out with its significant Tablet PC enhancements) and I have not had the same unqualified joy this time around.
        • The "Speed" factor is very deceptive" (i'm trying this again)

          I promise to keep it brief. As stated elsewhere, you can get santa rosa chipset, 64 bit enabled on machines from 1200 to 2500. You can get exact, down to manufacturer/ODM parts as a Mac and then some for less money. And use Vista x64 and put a littel more into memory if you have to, but 2GB is sufficient. <br>
          When I've watched Vista run, i got the same feeling it was somehow slower, but after a while noticed it was more the fluid movement of the screen/windows. It's like a tall great outfielder. People tend to say they DOG it out there chasing down a flyball or hit into the gap, but that's just how they run, graceful. If you put a guy that looks faster beside him, the graceful one is almost always getting to the ball a good deal. It's deceptive. <br>
          I think people will come around. It's not like Linux or Apple give them anything more that anyone needs to decide today. Buy vista x64 with Mac level(or better) hardware at up to 20% savings, run some things in compatibility mode for XP if really need to, but in the long run Vista will become great. It's got great underpinnings and it's attention to building with Devs in mind, as always but maybe moreso than ever, will prove this OS to be a great one in the next year or so. Very cool apps are coming all the time now and with server 2008, which is undeniably very solid, you gain a lot of networking strength and flexibility with a matchup. Faster network throughput, very granular central client control. The Windows Power Shell..if you've not used this or looked at's a must on the server side.
          Vista is a very solid OS with great security. If you need a reason to move up...there it And great class libraries.