Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Windows Vista Evangelist?

I'm starting to become frustrated with the nay-sayers and Microsoft bashers who have been convinced that "M$" can do no right.

I had intended to buy a new Vista PC just as soon as they had come off the assembly line at the beginning of 2008. I was really excited about this new architecture and all of the promises that Microsoft had made.

Life and reality set in, but I did manage to purchase both a new desktop and laptop just prior to Service Pack 1 being released around March of 2008. By this time, I had used Vista for a few hours at work on a early pilot project that was quickly scrapped due to software compatability problems with some mission-critial apps. So, I already was familiar with some of the issues that I would be running into.

Looking back, I now feel fortunate that by the time I adopted Vista, many of the software apps or their installers had been modified or otherwised fixed to play better with the new OS. Furthermore, disabling the UAC was a well-documented and accepted fact of life by that point. I began the long and tedius chore of installing my dozens of applications, with hardly a glitch. Just for the record, these apps consist of both open source and comercial software such as Visual Studio 2005, Visual Basic 6.0,, GIMP, PDF995, UltraEdit, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and many others.

Almost a year later, I have no regrets. There isn't a single app that I've been forced to live without. While there's a few things that Microsoft changed that I wish they would have left alone (like renaming Add/Remove Programs to Programs and Features), I actually find myself frustrated with features missing from XP machines. For example, I really like the way that Vista doesn't assume that I want to change the file extension when I go to rename a file.

I've even switched my PC at work over to 64bit Vista. That's been slightly more painful, and has caused me to upgrade a couple of applications for compatibility reasons. Print drivers proven to be the most frustrating part (in an otherwise 32bit network), but I'm getting by.

Stability wise, I consider Vista just as stable as my XP boxes were, and in fact have never seen any of my 3 Vista machines blue-screen or otherwise crash. Since I finished installing my apps initially, I've probably only rebooted my main PC a dozen times in the last nine months, because it just doesn't need it. (That being said, the machine does occasionally reboot itself in the night as needed for Windows Updates.)

So am I a Vista Evangelist? No, I don't consider myself to be one. I feel that Microsoft let us all down on the promises of a great new operating system that would be so much better, flashier, and more stable. It's just that I do whole-heartedly believe that for 90%+ of the population, Vista is a perfectly viable alternative for those faced with replacing their PC.

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