Tag Archives: xgl

How Ultimate is Windows Vista Ultimate?

Windows Vista Ultimate is so freakin’ ultmiate that it can’t run the ultmiate add-on because the ultimate pair of monitors are running at the ultimate screen resolution (two Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP monitors at 2560×1600 apiece). This is ultimately not much of a let-down for me, as most of Vista’s Ultimate extras have proven themselves to be anything BUT.

Here’s the ultimate dialog box that is fully visible when I try running Windows Vista Ultimate’s Dreamscene. You’ll find that it’s very nicely shaded around the edges, and the title bar is quite tranlucent.

Error messages are simply stunning in Vista Ultimate:

Windows DreamScene (Preview)

w00t! Let’s contrast the Windows Ultimate experience with that of the open source projects, Beryl and Compiz (Compiz Fusion):

Ultimate, indeed.

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.

Rubbing XGL in Windows Vista's Wounds

Everybody went ga-ga over the video I linked to the other day – showing XGL running on KDE in some random flavor of Linux. Some of you suffered from motion sickness after watching the entire thing, but I don’t think typical usage would require or necessitate that much desktop movement in such a small amount of time.

No matter, I went on a quest to find a live CD distro with XGL pre-infused – just to see how well it would work. Because of GPL violations, most XGL-enabled live CDs have been taken offline. I tried installing XGL on my own, following “simple” instructions I found for various distros online – and wound up remembering why I dislike Linux so much in the first place: it’s not easy, no matter what anybody leads you to believe.

GNOME makes Linux easier to navigate, which is why I think so many people have fallen in love with Ubuntu. If Linux is ever going to win over the hearts and minds of the status quo, the GUI must continue to improve. I think XGL gives power users enough eye candy to give Linux another stab – but I couldn’t come close to recommending Linux over OS X for reasons other than economics at this point.

I scoured the BitTorrent directories for XGL-enabled live CD ISOs. Wow, that was probably the geekiest sentence I think I’ve ever written. Anyway, I discovered an XGL-enabled distribution called Kororaa. You can download, burn, reboot, and run Linux without installing it on your hard drive. Grab the torrent for Kororaa Linux Xgl LiveCD 0.2 before it disappears.

Go ahead, try XGL on your own PC – you’ll be amazed. I ran it on Ponzi’s laptop, which has a lame-ass Intel video card. Every one of the XGL effects I tried ran smoother than I ever would have anticipated.

And yes, I believe GNOME looks and works infinitely better than Vista (especially with XGL enabled) for common, everyday tasks.