Tonight at midnight stores across America are staying open late (or maybe they’re open early, whatever) to celebrate the debut of the new Windows operating system, Vista.
Microsoft was giving away Release Candidate 1 late last year, so, curious, I spent $5 to get a DVD copy. I could’ve downloaded it for free, but I didn’t have the patience. I’ve been playing around with Vista for about a month and a half on a spare computer with a clean installation.My first impression was that it was pretty. Much of that has to do with the fact that they supply you with a nice set of wallpaper to choose from. There’s nothing like a beautiful Ansel Adams-type landscape to skew your perceptions. The icons are a little bigger. Like a Mac, you now have built in desktop gadgets. Also like a Mac when your cursor hovers over the icon for an open program in the task bar, your get a thumbnail preview. Oh, and you don’t have to buy a third-party application to burn a DVD. That’s finally built in so you don’t have to spend $80 on Roxio or Nero products. Well, duh. Took ‘em long enough.
Other than the prettiness, there is absolutely no reason to upgrade from XP. It’s not faster. If you’ve been getting by happily on a PC you bought in 2002 with 1 GB of RAM or less, you’re fucked now. If you really, really want this operating system, you need 2 GB of RAM and a 2 GHz processor, minimum. It’s not more stable. Yeah, I know I’m using RC1 and not the final version, but let’s face it – they’re giving away RC1 to tempt people to buy the real deal, right? This shit bombs big time. I haven’t seen crashes like this since Windows ME, and you know how bad that was. Sometimes it crashes on boot up for no reason. I’m on the other side of the room, nowhere near the keyboard and POOF! The system crashes and I have to do a hard restart. It was pretty consistently hanging after the screen saver came on, so I had to disable that.
Vista doesn’t like FireFox. There are no drivers for the HP printer I bought last March. The Sudoku game I bought three weeks ago doesn’t work. It says I don’t have a valid copy of Microsoft Office 2003 and I do, thank you very much. No surprises there. No way am I going to pay to upgrade to Office 2007. The bullshit invalidation of my Office 2003 made me go download the Open Office suite. Guess what? I like it. And it’s free. Guess who’s scrapped any notion of upgrading to Office 2007?
Vista gives you a hassle like the worst micromanager on Earth when you want to install something. Are you sure you want to install that? Do you know what that is? Do you trust the source? It views any installation – say, Adobe Acrobat Reader – as a potential security threat and it overreacts like ED-209 in RoboCop. Thankfully, it doesn’t shoot you.
I must say that I am excited about Vista, in a matter of speaking. I’m interested in the ripple effect and how the market is going to respond. I can’t wait to see all the bugs that are going to come to light. I just wish I could get in on the monetary action. A whole lot of people are going to make a whole lot of money this year retraining people and selling hardware upgrades, or trying to woo formerly diehard Windows users to Mac or Linux machines. Should be interesting.