Disclaimer: This post, if it isn't obvious from the title already, is going to be a bit of an angry rant about all that Microsoft's new Operating System, Vista, claims to be but really isn't. If angry rants aren't quite your thing then you'd probably be better served navigating to this link here, which is both informative and objective... and quite devoid of anger or other equivalent emotions.
A few days ago, I bought my very first laptop... an Acer Aspire 5055WXMi limited edition piece. Limited edition obviously because Acer saw little benefit continuing to produce the piece and promptly moved onto more fast moving models, leaving dealers little option but to try and palm off the pieces to an unsuspecting public using the time-tested labeling, "limited edition". But that's quite beside the point, because I got the machine at what I consider a decent bargain. And for the two weeks I've had the machine, it hasn't performed any actions necessitating a reclassification of its status. In short, so far, so good!! In fact the only thing that holds me back from classifying the laptop purchase as an unqualified success is that it comes pre-loaded with Windows Vista: Home Premium. Before I go any further, here's a few basic facts about Vista I gleaned from my machine:
Fact 1: C:/Windows has close to 40,000 files....
Fact 2: ....and occupies about 8GB on the hard disk!!
Fact 2: Vista needs close to 1 GB of RAM to itself !!!
The numbers are just mind boggling. I mean, an OS is supposed to be an interface between the machine and the user, a mechanism to deliver the capabilities of the machine to the user... in short, a means to an end. Microsoft seems to think of OS'es as being the end themselves. It's as if the top honchos at Microsoft sit down and brainstorm... "Gee, how can we make our next version of Windows, heavier, more resource intensive and more painful to use then its predecessor? Remember people, our target is to obsolete 90% of all the computers on this planet with its launch.... And where's that box of donuts, for crying out loud??"
Or maybe there's a more pronounced business angle to why Microsoft's products continuously push the envelope in terms of unreasonable and sometimes ludicrous resource demands. The computer hardware business is so incredibly competitive that manufacturers constantly try to outdo each other in product pricing and performance. One upshot of this intense competition is that manufacturers come out with cutting edge hardware whose capabilities far exceed what users really care for and existing software is able to utilize. This puts the manufacturers in a rather awkward position: They have millions of dollars invested in R&D, and have an out of the world product that nobody in this world really wants!! Now enter Microsoft, which comes out with a monster that can devour pretty much anything that the hardware world can throw at it. Suddenly there's much rejoicing in the hardware world and products that were going nowhere fast begin to sell like hot cakes. Microsoft has once again saved the hardware world from certain doom!! All that's needed: pre-loading the latest Windows offering. I guess it's not hard to imagine how much Microsoft benefits from this entire exercise...
I guess I wouldn't be complaining so much if Windows Vista was all that it has been hyped to be. Ok, the User Interface is cute and the file/folder preview feature is pretty nifty, but finally, is it all worth the additional demand on resources? A few specific gripes I have: Every once in a while a program hangs and you get the "XYZ (not responding)". You then have to do the "Ctrl+Alt+Del" black magic to get to the Task Manager to manually kill the offending process, which is what you have always been doing since... forever!!! Where's the innovation and creativity, people???
Also, as a user, you quite know that the OS is not the end in itself (even though Microsoft might not necessarily think so), and you download and install a bunch of applications that you think will transform your life from what it is to what you've always wanted it to be. One of the problems with installing a whole bunch of software: every yahoo of an application wants to be in the startup and most applications have sneaky ways of getting you to add them to the Windows startup.... for instance, how many of us haven't come across some like this:
[X] Add to Windows startup (Recommended)
You take the "recommendation" at face value and add the application to your startup list . Very soon you notice that Windows takes forever to load when you boot your machine. You suspect that there's way too many items in your startup. You want to check out which applications have parked themselves in the startup, but realize very soon that Windows hasn't provided you with a straightforward way of doing it. After a small struggle and a little help from Google, you manage to navigate to the Startup list and are aghast to find that the list has grown into a freakin' encyclopedia. After taking a moment to recover from the shock, you launch into action, mercilessly evicting the squatters from what is, essentially, prime property. The next time you boot, you note with satisfaction that Windows does indeed load faster and congratulate yourself for a job well done!! Now, the question is: Why the hell can't Microsoft make it any easier for a layman to get to the startup enabler/disabler? The computer is supposed to make man's life easier, not complicate it to distraction....
The point I'm trying to make is that Windows Vista costs a bundle... both in terms of real $$ you spend on it and in terms of its resource consumption. The least you'd expect it to be is an improvement over the previous versions of Windows. Instead, you find that behind the pretty User Interface, it's still the old Windows with the same failings. You'd imagine people would have learnt their lesson over the past twenty odd years, but Microsoft has proven beyond all doubt that if you have the right Marketing Team, you can indeed fool all the people all the time... Until later... cheers... 8-)