Newsletter Issue #340 Preview: The Coming Windows Vista Train Wreck

June 3rd, 2006

It is easy for Mac users to declare anything that emerges from the software mines at Microsoft to be junk, a poor imitation of the Mac OS. This is a knee-jerk reaction, to be sure, although a lot of it seems to be based on fact. At the same time, the largest software developer has thousands and thousands of talented, dedicated people, and many are working overtime to make Windows Vista as good as possible.

So what has gone wrong? It isn’t the fact that Vista is woefully late or that some highly-touted features, such as the new file system, have been shed along the way. If you recall the history of Mac OS X, in fact, you’ll see that it debuted at least a couple of years after it was promised, although Apple has made up for that with timely upgrades, at least so far.

Whether it’s bad management, or the consequences of committee-based design, doesn’t matter. If you look over many of the reports emerging so far about the widely-released Beta 2 version of Vista, you can see where there may indeed be a train wreck in the making, a complex, bloated operating system with huge resource requirements and evidence of some severely wrong-headed design decisions. Just imagine a movie where the screenplay falls apart and the budget careens out of control, and you’ll have an inkling where things may be headed.

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10 Responses to “Newsletter Issue #340 Preview: The Coming Windows Vista Train Wreck”

  1. setomi says:

    This is a “rush to judgement”. I’ve seen the reports. And it is a little scary. But it’s still beta. Things will change. Some of the initial reports focus only on the bad things (with the intent of talking about the good things later in a future article).

    Complex? Please explain. I’ll bet some things are. But how can you brand the whole operating system with “complex”?

    Bloated? How did you measure that? So many people say such things but don’t have any technical explanations.

    Huge resource requirements? It depends. If you have old hardware then its “huge”. If you have recent hardware, then it’s “more”. Same applies with OSX.

  2. Mac OS X, which does most of the cool things Windows Vista can do, has far more modest system requirements and can, in fact, run with decent performance on a Mac from 1999 or 2000. Many of today’s Windows-based computers will not be able to run the full feature-set of Vista.

    Understand, also, that this isn’t just a beta. It is a late beta, only months from the promised final release. All of the features should be nailed down by now, and testing ought to concentrate on bugs. Unfortunately, there are problems that extend way beyond simple performance and crashing issues.

    As I said in the article, I do hope Microsoft will address the most serious problems. But when you offer four control panels and five wizards to manage basic networking, there is a fundamental interface problem that cannot be easily addressed without a lot of work.


  3. Andrew says:

    I remember the difficulty switching from Windows 98 and Windows NT to Windows 2000, which had different control panels and handled network settings differently. Then along came XP and again we had different control panels (and a different way of viewing them) and different handling of network settings. With Windows XP, in fact, I have it set to use the Windows 2000 look and the “classic” control panel view.

    Vista will change things again, and again some people will like the change and others will hate it. Personally, I like to take a minimalist approach to my computers, be they Macs or PCs. I save documents in folders instead of on the desktop (nice and clean) and tend to minimize eye-candy, regardless of the OS. Vista looks like it adds like of resource-hogging eye-candy, but so long as that stuff can be disabled, it should be fine. Hopefully it can use the old Windows 2000 interface, which I honestly still like, in some ways more than OS X’s dock.

  4. setomi says:

    Really? OSX can do what Vista does? That’s another generic and vague statement. Be a little more specific. Can you build .NET applications (w/o bootcamp)? Can you play graphic intense games other than the Sims? (look at benchmarks of 3d games on PCs versus Mac). Have you ever heard of XAML based interfaces? Do some research on surround sound support. You’ve got OpenGL, but ever heard of DirectX on a Mac or SLI graphics card on a Mac? Have you ever looked at the integrated audio system specs on a Mac and compared them to the descrete audio systems on most PCs? (see CreativeLabs).

    Just as older macs can have decent performance on OSX, PCs should have decent performance running Vista (unless you try to crank up the features). That’s the same thing people said about XP when it first came out.

    As for networking setup, I’d agree…. more steps is just more headaches. I think this depends on what you do for networking (just get on the internet? versus setup an office). Personally I had no issues on PC or Mac. I actually had a significant networking issue on my Mac, but that’s a story for a different day.


    Happy computing.

  5. Setomi, what part of the phrase ”most of the cool things” do you not understand? The issue of .NET applications may or may not be ”cool,” but that depends on your conclusions about the technology. I wouldn’t necessarily apply .NET to my position.

    You then jump into the hardware, which is another comparison that is not part of this discussion. But I will say this: the fact that Microsoft may use a different way to get a result doesn’t mean it’s better — just different.

    As to the phrase, ”crank up the features,” bereft of Aero Glass, the major visual enhancements aren’t there.


  6. setomi says:

    Yes of course, I understand “Most of the cool things”. I agree with you. OSX does many cool things. All I’m saying is that it helps a lot more to elaborate which cool things instead of making general blanket statements. If you leave it open like this, people will come up with all kinds of ideas of what is “cool” and what is not.

    You’re right, .net is not important to everybody. That’s OK. It’s probably more important than you think. You’re not the only one reading the threads. That message is more for those who are familiar with .net or may want to know more about it. It’s cool. Remember people used to think Intel was unimportant. They think different now.

    I only mention hardware because you mentioned that Vista requires “huge resource requirements” in your original statement. If not hardware, then what specific SOFTWARE resources were you referring to? Ultimately it’s hardware thats the deciding factor. Look at side of your OSX box (or WinXP box). You won’t see “resource requirements”. You will see “hardware requirements”.

  7. OK, you are moving way, way beyond the intent of the original discussion, which is all about the problems with Windows Vista and whether Microsoft is able to resolve those problems before it is released.

    The fact is that the hardware needs are severe. It is not a question of DirectX versus OpenGL or whatever, and, no it is not a Mac versus Windows argument. In fact, I would like to see Microsoft enhance its operating system so that it exceeds the Mac OS in many areas. That would inspire Apple to leapfrog Microsoft, and so it goes.


  8. Terry says:

    regardless of Microsoft’s prblems with Vista, it will ship and it will become the dominant architecture for Windows. Microssoft is in no hurry. It will ship when it ships in a form that the IT industry will eventually embrace.

    If Apple is to gain any significant piece of market-share, it will do so according to its own feature set. Folks will only be enticed to switch if the value proposition is favorable to their needs. The IT industry will not move in a large fashion to Apple architecture. Computers in the enterprise are commodities these days. CFO’s want bang for the buck. Maintaining them comes from a separate budget. Does it cost more to maintain a PC? Probably. But that budget remains in the enterprise regardless of OS flavor. In our world, the PC support people will embrace any Microsoft variant because it is ultimately familiar to what they’re working with. In the enterprise, cost goes beyond hardware. Apple will never penetrate the enterprise on a significant level because the combined costs of moving to new platforms is not trivial.

    As a Mac user, I don’t care what Windows is all about. I want a compelling computing experience on the platform of my choice, created by a company that can continue to sell me what I want at a profit margin that lets them sustain the business.

    Vista’s beta is surely just as full of bugs and kludges as any other attempt that the company has done with any of its other OS offerings. But, it will be good enough for a commoditized market whose most important applications involve text documents and financial data.

    Apple’s real growth potential is with consumers, and Apple’s real goal is to convince consumers that just because they use a Windows box at work, the features of Apple’s products will best serve them in a home environment.

    remember, most computers in the enterprise are basically glorified typewriters with document storage. What would compel the enterprise to switch that commodity to a more boutique approach? Nothing.

  9. Andrew says:

    Most enterprise computers I’d dare say won’t even migrate to Windows Vista, just like they didn’t move to XP. Look around at businesses large and small and you will see just as many copies of Windows 9x, NT4 and 2000 as you will XP. Most small and medium law firms buy computers when the old ones stop working or new employees are added, and then use them with whatever version of Windows they came with until it hits the trash heap. I still do occasional support for a bankruptcy firm that has 8 PCs, 2 of them run XP, 4 run 2000, 1 has ME and 1 is still kludging along on Windows 95, never to be upgraded because of some ancient billing program that just won’t work on anything newer.

    Of course, since most of these computers do nothing except create and manipulate Word documents and email, they are perfectly fine and don’t need Vista or any other upgrade.

    My office is all OS X only because it was newly set up in March of this year, with all new computers. Starting from scratch and being the only person making technology decisions I had the luxury of ignoring the industry and going with Macs just because I wanted to. In some ways it is a struggle as there are legal tools that I simply cannot use, while in other ways I save money by not requiring an IT person despite my time being too precious to spend on computer problems and us having 6 computers in the office. PCs could do the job just as well, they just would require more effort on my part and likely someone with less expensive time to periodically maintain them.

  10. Sprocket999 says:

    Yeah, I agree with Andrew. My enetrprise clients are Win2000/NT/Win98 trapped still. But, apparently it works for them, so who is to argue productivity, right? My small business clients are all WinXP, only because they bought new gear within the last two years and their needs are very light. My choice is always the Mac, but I do have to crawl around the WinTel world from time to time and I am more than familiar with WinXP/Win2000/NT/Win98 thanyouverymuch.Personally, I don’t think this ‘trainwreck’ we call Vista will get adopted into the regular business world all that fast. The enterprise guys will spend five years evaluating it, and the small biz folks just bought new gear in the last year or so to replace Win98. My feeling is that a small, single digit percentage will pick Vista up. You know them; the gamers, the guys caight up in the latest-and-greatest-syndrome (LAGS). And along with the media and Mocrosoft, this small group will be creating the biggest noise — extolling the virtues of this great ‘revelation’ with phrases like “It’s just like the Mac!” (until the first crop of viruses hit). Personally, due to timing, I suspect this Vista will be a fizzle for Microsoft. And as I go about my business today, I could really care less. Just my 2¢ woth.

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