Tag Archives: operating-system

The Windows Vista Challenge

Charlie Owen has issued a challenge, but I’m not quite sure he understands why I’m complaining so much about the UI oversights found in Vista. Mind you, I haven’t said a word about Windows Vista’s Media Center – I haven’t had a chance to play with it extensively yet. Before I respond, I’d like everybody to read Why Vista will mean the end of the Microsoft monolith:

The Vista saga has two interesting lessons for the computer business. It raises, for example, the question of whether this way of producing software products of this complexity has reached its natural limit. Microsoft is an extremely rich, resourceful company – and yet the task of creating and shipping Vista stretched it to breaking point. A lesser company would have buckled under the strain. And yet while Microsoft engineers were trudging through their death march, the open source community shipped a series of major upgrades to the Linux operating system. How can hackers, scattered across the globe, working for no pay, linked only by the net and shared values, apparently outperform the smartest software company on the planet?

Challenge?! You can operate an XGL desktop perfectly without having to upgrade your video card first. To add insult to injury, XGL sports infinitely better (and reasonably more) eye candy than Aero does. Windows Vista is hardware hungry, no doubt – and I’m challenging Microsoft’s assertion that Aero is a “breakthrough user experience.”

No, it’s not – Vista’s UI is not breakthrough, Charlie. It’s broken. XGL, on the other hand, is breakthrough – and I find myself wondering how long it’s going to take for someone to port that to OS X. Windows Vista is not revolutionary – it’s evolutionary (barely, at that). A recently releaesd Mandriva Linux 2007 RC1 comes bundled XGL and AIGLX with Compiz, by the way.

Vista is already taking a beating, whether by Apple fanboys from InfoWorld, UAC task forces, or old Latvian women. There is no perfect operating system, and I’m certainly not suggesting that Linux and/or OS X are totally teh shiz. What I am saying, however, is that as far as cohesive, compelling user experiences go – I believe that Vista’s Aero fails (on the whole).

I understand that thousands of people poured their blood, sweat, and tears into pushing Windows Vista out the door – but I started to get impatient two years ago, only to be handed an RC that looked more like a early beta (I said “alpha” earlier, but perhaps that was a little harsh on my part). If Linux (with XGL) and Leopard (with UNO) aren’t challenging Microsoft to take UI more seriously, nothing ever will. In this arena, Windows has already been challenged – and remains truly challenged.

Leopard vs. Windows Vista

As you can imagine, I’ve been involved with countless Windows Vista email threads over the past few days. One of them is with Stardock’s own Brad Wardell (a good friend of mine). He tried to hit me with the classic “I don’t pay for service packs” argument when discussing Apple’s impending Leopard upgrade.

“I challenge you to name what in Leopard justifies $149,” Brad interjected. “Because I sure can’t think of one.” Apparently, you’re not thinking hard enough – or you haven’t done your homework:

  • Time Machine (amazing interface, long overdue)
  • Mail updates (To Do, Notes, Stationery, RSS – Outlook killer)
  • iChat (live video backdrops, photobooth effects, screen sharing)
  • Spaces (awesome virtual desktop behaviors)
  • Dashboard (Dashcode, .Mac syncing)
  • Spotlight (search Macs on your network, inline preview)
  • iCal (CalDAV support, auto schedule, event dropbox)
  • Core Animation (for developers who understand design)
  • Boot Camp (’nuff said)
  • Other optimizations and tweaks (combined)

You *MUST* watch every single one of these Leopard videos to understand why I believe the price is completely justified. Apple issues security updates constantly (and no doubt will wrap them into Leopoard as well). This isn’t a service pack, dude. These are not trivial upgrades. You combine the features of this list with better parental control, seamless 64-bit compatibilities, wider accessibility, and… and… and… knowing that Apple will have another set of new, incremental, and system-wide upgrades in another couple years? Game over.

Microsoft’s Service Packs are free, and they offer us… security updates, which should be free to begin with. Oh, wait – and pop-up blockers for browsers that are sadly past their prime. I appreciate that “smaller” Microsoft teams release useful tools every so often (like Windows Live Writer), but your mom probably couldn’t find them in the first place – and doesn’t care about them to begin with. Apple has invested a significant amount of time to ensure that both our personal and professional lifestyles will be enhanced and extended by Leopard. Microsoft has been shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic – and Windows Vista proves it.

If it’s asinine to spend money on a set of tools which serve to make my life better, then could you please explain to me Stardock’s business model? Moreover, could you explain why Microsoft is allowed to charge for Windows Vista and Apple isn’t for Leopard? Don’t get hung up on version numbers, dude – they’re “pointless” at this stage of the game. Then, aside from the “given” nature of security updates, could you give me ten solid reasons why someone would want to pay $149 for a service pack from Microsoft!?

All you Windows fanatics need to get off your high horse for a second and realize what’s happening here. My name isn’t Chicken Little, and I’m certainly not alone in my belief that Leopard is far more compelling than Windows Vista.

Windows Vista Needs Family Counseling

Break out CALC.EXE and get ready to crunch some numbers. According to reports, Windows Vista US prices have been made public – and those prices have officially made baby Jesus cry. Actually, Jesus laughed first – and then he cried. I swear, Microsoft is its own worst enemy.

Off the shelf, Windows Vista Ultimate will cost the user $399 per copy – with subsequent licenses weighing in at $359 apiece. Upgrade prices for Ultimate are slightly less rapey ($259 with $233 on additionals). If you’re planning on upgrading your home network of five machines, you’re going to spend $1159 for 5 Ultimate upgrades. Conservatively, if you’re upgrading the same network to Home Basic, you’re going to spend $356.

Apple’s OS X is available at $199 for up to 5 computers. It’s that simple.

Ignore the Windows Apologists

Yeah, I’m crazy for being annoyed by all the shims and hacks that Microsoft Windows software developers have tried to slip past our respective radars. I think we should excuse this multi-billion dollar company for not being able to standardize software across their future flagship OS. I think it’s perfectly normal for every other application to have a different toolbar settings and dimensions. I also think that menu option height discrepancies are sexy.

“Good enough” is a mantra that belongs in another era.

All you Windows apologists are further enabling this behavior – reinforcing the very shortcomings that will add up to an inferior user experience. It’s been so long since you’ve seen anything new that you’re happy to have SOMETHING different. And lest you think I’m the only “idiot” who isn’t excusing Microsoft, you need to read what Louderback scribbled:

The new version of OS X is also impressive. After a recent tour, I found myself constantly asking, “When will Vista do that?” Time Machine, which delivers constant backup and versioning of your software, seems to be a fail-safe way to preserve music, photos, and other important files at work and at home. The multi-desktop capability is nothing new, but seems particularly well integrated into the OS. I’m still not sold on OS X as an alternative to Vista, but others are less hesitant. In fact, Apple has a significant opportunity to trump Vista as the desktop OSâ€â€?if only it would stop insisting on being the sole hardware supplier for the operating system.

As a Windows evangelist, I’m rooting for Apple in this space (and you should be, too). Microsoft needs truly healthy desktop competition – and that’s only going to come if, as Jim puts it, Jobs can forego his ego. Windows apologists, however, are not to be trusted. If you don’t believe that UI matters, why not just slap yourself back into the days of the command line and be done with it?

Aero, on its own, is absolutely outstanding – but the half-assed platform implementation is what leaves such a sour taste in my mouth. Vista runs fast enough, so long as you have a high-speed memory stick acting as a ReadyBoost device. Is Vista better than XP? I guess that all depends on how you choose to define “better” at the end of the day.

Robert and Robert: Duh!

McLaws says Vista Needs More Time and Scoble says McLaws is right on Windows Vista ship date. Pirillo has been saying this for several months now, and has been labeled a “nitpicking whiner” for his attacks on Windows Vista’s UI and UX. Welcome to the club, boys – I’m happy to no longer be standing out here alone. I’m singing the “I Told You So” song today, which sounds a lot like the Blackeyed Peas hit: “My Humps.” Microsoft Windows is bleeding influencers like never before. And now, further commentary from the memetic echo chamber:

Windows Vista will not be a failure on the scale of Windows ME – but it’s certainly looking to be one of those “Growing Pains” releases that Microsoft must bounce back quickly from. And by quickly, I mean: Microsoft must issue a significant upgrade of the OS within a year’s time. Security is important, but future service packs best be laden with performance increases and feature refinements. I tried telling y’all long before the McLaws admission – VIsta just ain’t comin’ together.

George is getting very upset!

Windows Vista: Lipstick on a Pig

I wish I was making this up – I really do. I also wish that someone at Microsoft would wake up to the fact that the user experience in Windows Vista is 10x worse than it was in Windows XP (if only because they couldn’t get developers to adhere to XP guidelines, and now Vista apps look even more Frankenstined). I wish Microsoft would hire somebody to look at this stuff before it ships – and do something about the problems before the world has to deal with them.

I wish users didn’t have to put up with this level of sloppiness from a multi-billion dollar company. I wish I didn’t have to play the “bad guy” and point out that Classic Mode is still the only way to experience a clean, consistent Windows environment. I wish more people would look past Vista’s translucent veneer to see that it’s nothing more than lipstick on a pig. I wish people would see that I care more about this product than most Windows users do. I wish geeks cared more about UI… so that I wouldn’t feel like such a sore thumb here. Thanks to Brandon for posting this – and thanks to Ryan for pointing out that Windows 3.1 is still alive and well in Windows Vista (screenshot).

65 More Windows Vista Mistakes

I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Even after my problems with Outlook 2007, and my original feedback on Windows Vista, I went deeper into Windows Vista’s second beta. This time, I didn’t concentrate so much on the font issues (so that I couldn’t be accused of being such a nitpicker). Don’t get me wrong; there are still thousands of UI oversights still sitting within Windows. I intend to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t just want to hear about how some of my problems were addressed – I won’t rest until all of them are. I keep being told that a lot of it will be happening soon, but… I’ll believe it when I see it. This isn’t just about fonts and icons, my friends – it’s about something I intend on using as my primary operating system for the next… seven (?) years.
Continue reading 65 More Windows Vista Mistakes