Jason Cross at ExtremeTech published a comprehensive, balanced review of the current state of Vista development yesterday. It's well-written, fair, and useful for those who are so curious that every detail about the next version of Windows matters. In response, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN), a Linux advocate and ZDNet Senior Editor explains at DesktopLinux.com (picked up by eWEEK) why Vista will still suck and can't hold a candle to the current Linux or Mac OS X offerings.
ExtremeTech summarizes their reaction to the next-gen Windows with a cautiously optimistic statement:
"To be honest, we don't know that it's going to be great just yet. The OS is still very much in beta, and if previous Microsoft operating systems are any indication, a whole lot of things come together in the last few months. As such, we certainly can't recommend you set aside some upgrade money right now.
Still, it's hard to take a real look at Vista, both on the surface and under the hood, and consider it just another Windows rehash. This is a dramatic, whole-hog upgrade of the Windows platform. If you got anything out of this article, we hope it's the realization that Vista is not simply the Windows XP/2000 code base that has been slowly evolving over the years with some fancy graphics and icons slapped onto it. It should be clear that Vista is really the next generation of operating system from Microsoft, every bit as significant as the leap from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 or the jump from Mac OS 9 to OS X."
SJVN closes his dissection (evisceration?) of the current Vista state of affairs by saying:
"What I do know is that I really don't see a thing, not one single thing, that will make the still undelivered Vista significantly better than the Linux or the Mac OS X desktops I have in front of me today."
You know what I think? I think ExtremeTech (and others) who want to give Vista a "fair shake" can get as technical and in-depth as they want and I appreciate their efforts to be fair and balanced. But I also think these efforts will not have much impact on the ultimate adoption of Vista because they're writing to an audience that will (or won't) migrate based on a number of issues that ultimately have less to do with technical merit than with dollars and business issues.
I think SJVN can get just as nasty, sarcastic, and technical as he wants to and he's still preaching to his already converted choir. Will Vista change many (any?) Linux or Mac fans' minds about what OS they'll want to be using? No. Does that matter? Same answer.
Vista is inevitable. Later this year (if Microsoft makes it's ship date target) or early next, when you buy a PC, you'll get Vista. As application upgrades are released and new applications are developed that leverage Vista's new capabilities, you'll have an increasing number of reasons to upgrade your existing system - whether you get Aero Glass effects or not. This is where the Windows world is inexorably headed.
There will be a rush by techies, gadget freaks, and bleeding edgers (myself included) who will install the final Vista bits as soon as they're available. Businesses, especially large ones, will migrate more slowly as has been the case with prior Windows releases like Windows 2000 and Windows XP. But they will migrate because it's a Windows world, like it or not.
Look - Linux may be technically superior to Windows. Mac OS X may be easier to use (disclaimer: I'm a lifelong Mac user and have a lovely G5 dualie in my office as well as my primary PC - a Tablet PC). I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with either of these assertions. That's not the point. The truth of the matter is that if you were to count up all of the desktop Linux users and all of the Mac OS X users in the entire freakin' world and show that number to me, I'd tell you it simply doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter to me and it doesn't matter to Microsoft and it shouldn't matter to fans of other operating systems either. You're no more likely to convince a business to switch to Linux or the Mac OS arguing technical superiority or ease-of-use than you are trying to convince the sun to rise in the west and set in the east. Or to get a Red Sox fan to suddenly admit the Yankees are a better team to root for. It's simply not a single-point argument. It's complicated. It calls into play the inertial power of the installed, entrenched standard (see Crossing the Chasm if you don't understand the enormity of this).
For what it's worth, I don't expect Vista to suck. The CTP releases make me pretty confident in taking that position. I also don't think Vista is the ultimate end-all-development picture of perfection. All pontification aside, I think it's a significant improvement over what we have today in XP. And I think that's more than enough to render the question of whether we techies think it sucks... or doesn't... pretty moot.