Vista: To V or not to V

by JL Beeken on 3-25-2007

I’ve been avoiding this but I finally went and had a peek at Vista. It’s quite snazzy with all those 3-D effects and see-through tool-bars. How can I resist? It’s easy. I don’t need a new operating system. XP is here, it works, sort of, with a lot of help from other software. I thought I’d wait a year or two until some of the kinks are worked out.

Windows Vista

However, I may be needing a new computer. My 4-year old laptop is overheating and shutting itself off (instead of setting itself on fire and I appreciate that) at least twice a day lately, and that can’t be a good thing. There’s been a slow steady demise since the day I got it – the optical drive, the sound card, the motherboard, the keyboard, the optical drive again, one memory bay.

One thing that struck me about Vista is that some of the software I’ve been writing about here will become obsolete. Copernic Desktop Search, for instance, as Vista appears to have an indexing system built in. Although Vista has a Photo Gallery of sorts, FastStone Viewer is now “Vista compatible” so the developer is at least hoping to still have a reason to carry on.

Anyone who’s developing software has to go ahead and get on board, to keep running on top of that ever-moving ball, but the rest of us can take our time. Here’s the first thing that goes through my mind: can the company who built Internet Explorer, the worst web browser in the history of the personal computer, and has kept it that way consistently version after version, be trusted to design an operating system? It does beg the question.

The last thing I heard is that they had messed up the Vista code so badly it needed to be re-written entirely, and wouldn’t be released until 2009. Now, suddenly it’s here in 2007. What miracle transpired in the middle of the night?

I tried watching Vista’s Intro Videos but they don’t work. My problem or theirs?

A friend who develops software wrote me that they’ve built Vista on a “security model” which is not good. However, he didn’t answer my question “What does that mean?” What I’ve read is that it throws up a lot of boxes asking permission to do this, that and everything. If you say Yes to anything are you any more secure? Or is this just a way of passing the responsibility over to you?

McAfee’s major upgrade last year added pop-up boxes for a lot of things I already had covered with less intrusive software. I asked for a way to go back to the previous version or a refund. The company wouldn’t give me either, so I threw up my hands and kicked it off my computer.

Here on XP, I run ZoneAlarm for a firewall, and free AVG anti-virus. Never had a problem. Maybe everyone and their dog is hacking my computer but I wouldn’t know. So far no-one but me is charging groceries to my credit-card so something must be working.

Bottom line: I’m old now and, although I still like new things, I don’t like the commitment part. So I can look around for a new computer with more hard-drive space, more memory, more speed, more USB ports, better graphics, better sound, and a DVD-drive … with Vista. If it turns out I hate it, I can go back to XP or jump right off the cliff into Linux. OK, problem solved.

Here’s a user-friendly version called Ubuntu and the hardware requirements are tiny. 256 RAM will do, 3GB for installation. If you still want Windows (and letting go can be a shock) it’s possible to partition your drive and have both.

Ubuntu

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