Dissecting Microsoft's "100 Reasons You'll Be Speechless"

The other day a list of "100 Reasons You'll Be Speechless" when you use Windows Vista (I guess Microsoft aren't hearing the "Wows!" and assuming that we're all speechless instead) hit the media (I'm pretty sure this isn't a new list ...). I was going to write a piece about this yesterday but didn't - it seems that everyone else was saying what I was thinking. Earlier today I decided to take a more objective look at the 100 reasons and see which apply to me - not many it turns out.

The other day a list of "100 Reasons You'll Be Speechless" when you use Windows Vista (I guess Microsoft aren't hearing the "Wows!" and assuming that we're all speechless instead) hit the media (I'm pretty sure this isn't a new list ...). I was going to write a piece about this yesterday but didn't - it seems that everyone else was saying what I was thinking. Earlier today I decided to take a more objective look at the 100 reasons and see which apply to me - not many it turns out.

Below I'll list all 100 reasons and below each I'll add my thoughts and feelings on the reason.

1 - It makes using your PC a breeze

In my experience, while Vista is certainly different to XP, I can't say that it's any easier to use overall.

2 - Because all of your music is just a remote control click away

Doesn't apply to me.

3 - It's the safest version of Windows ever

No way of telling whether this is true of not yet.

4 - See your world in a whole new light

Hmmm, Microsoft just can't get away from Aero being the main selling feature. Problem is, no matter how cool you think Aero is, it's still just eye candy.

5 - It can find your stuff

Search is one area that is significantly improved but it still has a long way to go. I'd like to see the ability to search for all Windows applications via application name rather than file name (for example, I'd like to be able to type "registry editor" into the search box rather than having to tell people what the filename is).

6 - Because you're always on the run

If you're a Windows Mobile user, Windows Vista is certainly a much-needed improvement over previous versions. Hooking up mobile devices to Vista is easier than ever. This is a point i can get behind.

7 - Because you can freeze time

Hmmm, if I was going to spend the days required to organize all my photos and video I'd want to make sure that whatever I was doing to them was going to be future-proof. I just don't trust that Microsoft won't "tweak" how this works with the next version of Windows and all my hard work was for nothing.

8 - Your PC can take care of itself

I have yet to see this happen ...

9 - Unchain your mobile PC

You know, I'm not all that sold on the idea that a wireless network is any easier to set up under Vista.

10 - Surf more safely

Maybe ... it remains to be seen if Protected Mode will be any safer in the long run.

11 - Help protect your kids online

Yes, Parental Controls are a pretty neat set of features.

12 - Schedule showtime on your time

Doesn't apply to me.

13 - Because you need to know who the bad guys are

If I didn't need to buy and install third-party apps onto the system then this might be a valid point, but as it stands it isn't.

14 - Make any room a media room

Doesn't apply to me.

15 - Because your PC remembers to back up for you

No way am I trusting Windows along to back up my systems.

16 - Get your new computer up and running in no time

Yeah, riiiiight ....

17 - It's like having your own personal anchorman

You know, I had an effective (and highly useful) sidebar long before Vista.

18 - Create your own personal archive

Are we starting to repeat reasons now ... this sounds an awful lot like #15.

19 - Watch live TV on your PC

Doesn't apply to me.

20 - Set up your home network in a flash

It depends - if you want any control over your network, then things are no better than they were under XP.

21 - Put more playtime in family time

Yep, the games on Vista are pretty sweet.

22 - See everything you're working on at a glance

Again, Flip 3D is mostly eye candy as opposed to a critical feature.

23 - Because it's like a digital candy store

Disclaimer - Does not contain candy store.

24 - Because you don't want to worry about spyware

Sorry, but I don't trust Windows Defender that much.

25 - It works with the software, hardware, and services you want

Depends on what hardware, software and services you want are.

26 - Because you're a multitasker

Sure, Quick Tabs in IE7 is nice, but I have that on XP too.

27 - Because your computer can keep up with you while you're on the go

Haven't we already covered the Windows Mobility Center in #6?

28 - Enjoy your memories, larger than life

Hmmm, not of any interest to me.

29 - Take the handwritten approach

Tablet PC fans will enjoy this one, but those connecting a graphics tablet to a standard PC might annoyed by it (Wacom drivers for Vista are far too embedded into Vista for my liking).

30 - Restore your PC in an instant

Disclaimer - Does not restore PCs in an instant.

31 - Because your PC lets you know if something's wrong—and helps you fix it

I've never seen this happen so I can't comment on it.

32 - Streamline IT management across your business

Yes, Group Policy is much better.

33 - Preserve a lifetime of memories

OK, I get it, Vista can backup your data.

34 - Connect to the network at work or school

A useful feature for a small number of users.

35 - Because you'll know it when you see it

Sure, the improved search system in Vista is faster than it was for previous versions, but there were plenty of third-party applications that allowed you to effectively search through files and folders. If you desperately needed improved search, you'd have found a way to have it.

36 - Get a "do-over" when you need it

If you mess with your images through Windows Photo Gallery then this could be useful for those times when you make a mess of things.

37 - Keep your info under lock and key

Yes, I suppose it is a handy feature, but since I use third-party encryption.

38 - It's the cure for red-eye

Are we really going to get every Windows Photo Gallery feature listed here?

39 - Relive your memories…each and every one

Yes, so it would seem ...

40 - Because you love what you do

This is far too warm and fuzzy for my liking ...

41 - Because your PC will stay up to date, automatically

Yes, I do like the updated Windows Update ... although I'd still like to see more information provided.

42 - E-mail your photos without worrying about the file size

Not used this feature so can't comment but I guess that anything that stops people sending me 5MB images is a good thing.

43 - It's parent friendly

You've already mentioned parental controls.

44 - Because you have a need for speed

Windows ReadyBoost is a nice feature but I'm more likely to use it on notebooks that I am on the desktop.

45 - Because you hate all those boxes and wires

I still have a load of boxes and wires ...

46 - Your music can look as good as it sounds

I dislike Windows Media Player with a passion. I hate iTunes too, but since I own a number of iPods I'm stuck using iTunes.

47 - Let the fun start now

Thumbnails in media center ... clutching at straws a bit now, aren't we?

48 - Stay connected wherever you go

Wireless gets another mention ...

49 - Take your workspace with you

This happens to be a pretty useful feature of the Sync Center.

50 - Get more out of the web

If you want tabbed browsing, there's no need to upgrade to Vista, you just need to upgrade the browser.

51 - Because you live to play

Once Games Explorer is more widely supported it might be a useful feature, but it's hardly a huge selling point.

52 - Take control of game time

Parental Controls again ...

53 - Because you can get more done when you work together

Windows Meeting Space is an interesting feature, but it's hardly unique as there are plenty of web collaboration tools available. However, depending on your circumstances it might be useful. That said, it's unlikely that you're going to upgrade operating systems just for this.

54 - Stay entertained wherever you go

Hmmm ...

55 - Because success tomorrow starts today

This is a bit too touchy-feely for me.

56 - Print what you see

Yes, without a doubt printing has been improved in IE7, but again you don't need to upgrade the OS for this.

57 - Because you don't need a PC to watch your home movies

For home users looking to share memories, this could be useful. However, it's not something that I'm likely to use outside of playing with it.

58 - Fill your home with music

No use to me ...

59 - Make a masterpiece

No use to me ...

60 - Because you want your video memories to stay true to life

There are plenty of home users who'd find this useful, but I'm not one of them.

61 - Stand strong against hackers

Windows Firewall for XP was a pretty good firewall, but it's a bit early to say what the Vista incarnation will be like.

62 - Because it remembers what you like to do—and helps you do it faster

SuperFetch is, without a doubt one of the best Windows Vista features. I've no doubt that Vista is far snappier and much more responsive that XP is.

63 - Help is always available

I find it a little disappointing that a comprehensive help system is considered to be something to leave you speechless ... given the price of Vista, I expect decent help to be honest.

64 - Keep your files confidential

Personally, I don't use EFS.

65 - Send a fax on the spot

Fax ... what's that???

66 - Because everyone goofs sometimes

Shadow Copy is one of those feature that could really help save your skin if you goof up. It's pretty handy insurance against a PEBKAC error, but the problem is that it's so well buried that many users won't even know it's there.

67 - Because e-mail is your lifeline

I don't use Windows Mail ...

68 - Stay on top of your family's schedule

I don't use Windows Calendar ...

69 - Because you want the quality of your printouts to match the quality of your work

I've not come across anything all that spectacular in the Vista printing department.

70 - Your PC is ready when you are

That Vista sleep power state starts to grow on you after a while, but I have to admit that I still prefer to hibernate my system.

71 - Keep your favorite things at your fingertips

Search Folders is one of the Vista features that I use extensively and miss when I'm on another OS. This is a really useful feature that dramatically increases productivity.

72 - Get the latest news delivered right to your desktop

It's a bit late for Microsoft to start acting like it invented RSS.

73 - Because your photos and home movies don't have to be stuck in your PC anymore

Pass ...

74 - Because your memories need a little mood music

Pass ...

75 - Because you want professional-looking photos from your own printer

Pass ...

76 - Because all the relatives want a copy of that special shot

Pass ...

77 - Capture a moment in an instant. Now release it just as quickly

Yawn ...

78 - Because you've got more ways to take your music with you wherever you go

Nope, this is where my iPod comes into the equation.

79 - Let your music collection grow with you

Pass ...

80 - Because you're a media master

Yeah, but I can't rip DVDs ...

81 - Because it makes your TV smarter

Hmmm ...

82 - Presenting your new home entertainment hub: your PC

Personally, I'm still not sold on having a PC at the center of my home entertainment hub.

83 - It makes your desktop come alive

Hmmm, yeah, just what I want, DreamScenes eating up loads of CPU power.

84 - Sit back, relax, and pass the remote

Is there an echo here or is it me?

85 - Your PC can be multilingual

If you need this, it's likely to be dead handy, otherwise it'll mean nothing.

86 - Archive your media library

All right, enough with the backup.

87 - Play the hottest new games

You already told us about the games.

88 - Take your game beyond the next level

OK, DirectX 10 ... yawn ...

89 - Take your games to go

OK, quit it with the games talk!

90 - Check your e-mail without booting up your PC

Only if you have system with a secondary screen.

91 - Take your fun with you

You already told us about the Sync Center.

92 - Showing is more powerful than telling

Actually, I am reasonably pleased with the Tabled PC features in Vista, and if you have a tablet, they're useful.

93 - Work your own way

OK, I'm bored of the tablet PC stuff ...

94 - Because you want your wireless connection to be more secure

Yeah, sure, but I don't feel the need to upgrade my OS just for this.

95 - Take network files and folders with you

Offline Files and Folders is a pretty neat feature and I use this quite extensively.

96 - Access your desktop wherever you go

Remote Desktop is another feature that I use almost daily and couldn't live without.

97 - Because your business doesn't need more than one scanner

True ...

98 - Make your presentations more professional

If you have a projector, cool, if not ...

99 - Because you get more out of information when you share it

Files and folder sharing is far more refined under Vista than previous versions.

100 - Because your network is the backbone of your business

I'm not all that impressed by network diagnostics and troubleshooting in Vista - I just feel it could be a lot better.

The bottom line ...

OK, so what's the bottom line here? Well, going through this list point at at time has been an interesting experience. First off, I'm surprised how bland the list is. To be honest, I think that 100 items is about 70 too many. A list with a hundred entries needs to be compelling enough to carry the reader through it. This list is boring, period.

I'm also slightly surprised by how many of the features which are listed don't interest me. I think that's it's quite possible that some people would look at this list and decide that Vista's not for them based on the number of redundant features that it contains.

But there's a bigger problem here. Not only are too many of the features vague and unspecific, but too many of them rely on having the right version of Windows. All the different Vista versions don't help focus customers on the right version for them, it just makes things more confusing. That's a big problem and the fact that this listing doesn't make it clear which version has what feature makes if pretty obvious that even Microsoft is having a hard time getting across the differences between the versions. What Microsoft did with XP (having two versions, Home and Professional) was a step in the right direction, but with Vista there are just too many choices for the end user. Some choice is OK, but too much choice isn't helpful.