The Windows Vista Challenge

Posted by


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.