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Monday, June 05, 2006

20 Things You Won't Like About Windows Vista

Windows Vista, the next major update to the Windows operating system (OS), has been delayed yet again but this is no suprise. What does this mean? We'll wait even longer for the Next-Generation OS from Microsoft. The current projection sets the Windows Vista release for January 2007.

Even though Microsoft isn't even close to releasing the OS for retail, they have been gracious enough to give the Press full access to the latest builds. This is their attempt to keep you salivating about a product that should have been released 3 years ago and for many its working. For me, well my mouth is about as wet as the Sahara over it and so I've compiled the Top 20 Things You Won't Like About Vista.

Why is Vista supposed to be a Next-Generation OS?
Microsoft first announced Vista to compete with the truly Next-Generation Mac OS X. Apple has done a great job at innovating the traditional OS by including features that allow us to do our work more easily and efficiently. This has all happened while Microsoft has been living in the Dark Ages with XP. Ironically enough I say this while typing at a PC running Windows XP. XP was Microsofts first stab at innovation which fell short due to technical glitches and a slow adoption rate.

While dominating the OS market sounds like a good thing, it has hindered Microsofts ability to include innovative features in their OSes. While Apple can innovate, Microsoft is left having worry about compatability with old computers running old software. This makes compatability a major focus of Vista development.

Another thorn in Vista is that the majority of systems running Windows are from large corporations and institutions which means that Information Technology (IT) management is a huge concern. With the latest release of Vista, Beta 2, Microsoft has upped the ante by favoring security and IT control over end-user productivity.

The dominance of security in Vista is so bad that many testers have compared their experience "to that of a rat caught in a maze". This is very troublesome for small business and home users who will be caught in a "blizzard of protect-you-from-yourself password-entry and 'Continue' boxes" that are required in the control panel. Additionally, nerwoking settings are scattered over multiple locations. Add us this plus all of the other complaints people have lodged about Vista and compiling a Top 20 Worst features list isn't that hard at all.

This isn't to say that everything is bad with Vista. In fact, they have gone a long way to update the graphics subsystem, improve security, and develop new features. But, discussing the Top 20 Best features of Vista is another article entirely.

The List ... Finally!
20. Minimum video card requirements make my new laptop outdated.
In trying to push the envelope, Microsoft has included a lot of Mac OS X like visual effects which make the minimum requirements for your video card on Vista excessive. The current minimum memory is 128MB to run all of the visual elements in Vista. Well this requirement makes the laptop I just purchased already outdated by Vista's standards.

19. Heavy video requirements will cause businesses problems.
Because most current PCs wont have a strong enough video card for Aero, the new graphics engine in Vista, they will be forced to run in Vista Basic. IT managers will now have to worry about which PCs can run Aero and which can't. Adding insult to injury, it seems from initial reports that Vista Basic is more main system random access memory (RAM) hungry than Aero or even XP in older machines. The bottom line is that Vista is going to run incredibly slow if you don't have a 128MB video card so if you want to use it you're going to have to shell out more cash.

18. F%@#ing user account controls.
Their concept was to simplify how you setup the users on your system. The result is pain in my a$$. For years, Windows been downright difficult to use on a daily basis unless you log-in as the administrator or setup complicated permissions on a per-user basis. In the old systems, administrator was a level that any user could be promoted to but in Vista, the administrator group is not the same as the administrator. In addition to this, Vista requires authentication for almost every control panel as well as the registry and program files folder. All of these changes are going to totally confuse any Windows user, the experience and unexperience alike.

17. Secure Desktop
You have to experience this to understand how horrible it is. This is part of Microsoft's User Accounts Control and occurs when you do something the OS deems dangerous. The worst part about it is that when it occurs, the popup is modal and locks Windows until you answer the prompt.

16. How come I can access the Administrator account?
I guess Microsoft wants to force us to use the User Access Controls because I could not find a way to access the Administrator account like you can in previous versions of Windows. I personally belive that separating the administrator class with the administrator account is a huge mistake on Microsofts part.

15. Vista makes my networking life more difficult.
Fixing people's computers all day long I am constantly working on networking problems and the easiest way to answer so critical questions is by looking at the network connection properties. In Vista, accessing those properties are no longer easy or straightforward. Another aim of Vista was to simplify networking, but this didn't happen (maybe it will in the next version of Windows).

14. Windows Peer Networking
Working in a large office, it is often easier to share files between co-workers than sending them back and forth. It seems though that Microsoft has changed some of the good peer networking options from XP and added more bad ones. The result: Peer networking is not as easy as it should be with a Next-Generation OS.

13. Network settings takes one step forward and two giant steps backward.
I think the new slogan for Vista should be, "Vista, making things hard to find!" because thats what they have accomplished by making me click seven times to open the network connection properties. The design of Vista has been to make settings harder to access by the basic user so that they can't change them. It might work better if the OS ran well enough that the user didn't have to change the settings.

12. Applets, Wizards, and Dialogs Oh My!
I think Microsoft shot itself in the foot this time. They want to make setting up things in Vista easier. Their solution: Include an ungodly amount of wizards and widgets. The result: The user has to spend more time finding the right wizard than solving the problem.

11. Display setting USED to be straightforward.
For no apparent reason Microsoft has decided to change the easy to use Display settings. Instead of the easily accesible and navigated tabbed window has been changed into categories of settings that are not intuitive.

10. Say Goodbye to File, Edit, View, etc.
Intelligent graphical user interface (GUI) design is critical in a great OS. Well Microsoft hired some downright awful GUI designers who decided to kill off a primary interface structure that has been in use for over 20 years. On top of this, almost every program known to man makes excessive use of some type of a menu bar. But new with Vista is an OS without an menu bar. So officially say goodbye to your File, Edit, View and other favorite menus. Now I should tell you that you can re-enable the Menu Bar through a series of property dialogs, it just seems stupid to kill this basic feature that EVERY operating system includes. I guess this is what makes Vista unique.

9. Windows Defender is buggy.
Beta versions of any software is likely to have bugs but the troubling thing is that when Defender does have a problem it does so silently which has prevented it from running the scheduled scans setup for 2 a.m.

8. Problems need solutions.
Another 'new' feature of Vista is the Problem Reports and Solutions utility which logs problems with drivers and software and then tries to help you solve them. The score is 0/20. With twenty problems encountered, the solution utility has helped none of them. This should be improved by the time Vista ships but I'm thinking they should change the name to Problem Reports utility and drop the solutions since its not keeping up its end of the bargain.

7. Where did all the Sidebar Gadgets go?
The Sidebar is akin to the Dock in Mac OS X, a great idea to help improve productivity and the bottom line. The problem is that while there are over 2000 Dashboard widgets for OS X, there are only 21 for Vista. Since they have been introduced on a handful (3-4) have been developed by people outside of Microsoft. For Sidebar to be very useful, Microsoft needs to get people to make more gadgets.

6. Media Center falls flat.
Many people have had problems with getting Vista's Media Center displaying TV. While the software was easily able to setup the TV hardware, it was unable to display the TV which is a problem for just about everyone. What's a media center without media?

5. Bad assumption #93: Start Menu
In yet another bad move by Microsoft, the Start Menu in Vista has become intelligent and knows whats best for you when it comes to shutting down and logging off. While the sleep and lock mode are displayed using large buttons, useful functions like shutdown, restart, log off get shuffled off into a small menu. As it turns out, simplifying these options has made it much more difficuly and annoying.

4. Long installation time.
I could do a days work in the time it takes Vista to install. No wait I can't because my computer is busy installing Vista. The one benefit is that all of the information the installer needs from you is taken at the beginning not middle or end of the install so you don't have to stand and watch 1% change to 2%.

3. Too many options!
In the never-ending battle to be flexible, Vista comes in five flavors: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. On top of this, Tablet PC functionality is available in all but the Home Basic version of Vista. Media Center functionality is available in the Home Premium and Ultimate versions of Vista. If that wasn't enough, each version of Vista contains different combinations of the new features in Vista. For instance the Home Basic edition will not have Aero, the new graphics engine. Good luck buying the right version!

2. Money, money, money ...
This all comes down to price. How much blood money will we have to fork over to get Vista. Recent estimates put the Vista Ultimate edition at somewhere around $329 to $349. We'll have to wait until the release gets closer to have a better estimate on how much Vista in all of its flavors will cost. The other interesting aspect of this is the Vista Start program that is designed for emerging home-computer markets. The idea is that you buy a computer with Vista for $200 to $300 and purchase usage cards that allow you to use the machine for a predetermined amount of time. After you bought a specific amount of these cards, you own the machine.

1. Vista is a photocopy.
What I mean is that when you make a photocopy of something there is always a loss of quality. In essence, Vista copies many of the things that Mac OS X has offered for years. While there is no problem with copying these features, it is important to recognize that they aren't the original. While Microsoft has the opportunity to take what Apple and other OS manufacturers have done well and make them great; The result thus far is not the case.

So thats the Top 20 Worst features/aspects of Vista as I see them. Let me know what you think of the latest release from Microsoft and what you hope to see in the coming months.

I hope that many of these things will be cleared up when Vista finallly is released. Either way, I will be watching the development closely and will be reporting back to you as they occur. So stay tuned for more on the upcoming release of the next-generation Windows Vista and more.


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