Friday, June 27, 2008

10 reasons Vista sucks

Or ten reasons its supposedly better than XP, exposed.

1. It's more secure than Windows XP. After being implicitly responsible for botnets and security breaches through the incredible popularity of their Windows XP, Microsoft went back and made sure Vista is more secure than its predecessor. And it is. According to security firm PC Tools, Vista had 639 unique threats over a six-month period, whereas XP had 1021. This came from much internal restructuring under the hood, but there's a chance that it might be due to Vista being a smaller target than XP for malware as well.

So the data are based on the number of unique threats? Maybe that's due to Vista being a smaller install base? Like 10 fold smaller? Actually if you look at it as unique threats per install-base, then Vista is far less secure. But we wouldn't say that, because that would be stupid.

2. It's the best looking Windows yet. Despite any complaints users may have about Aero hogging up too many CPU cycles or requiring a video card from this millennium to use, it's still the best looking Windows yet. I mean really, do you remember what XP looked like out of the box? With that gigantic balloon of a task bar and the green Start button. Vista's glass definitely trumps that. And then there's the underlying graphical framework changes which allow new features like live thumbnails. All these visual effects may require more power, but you can't deny that it's pleasing to look at.

Does anyone really care about how pretty a OS looks out of the box? OSes should be flexible enough that they can look like whatever the user wants, like Linux GNOME or KDU for example. I certainly don't care, it has to be functional, and the authors even admit the resources required for this prettiness is way beyond XP's requirement.

3. Games work just about as well as under XP. There's a slight performance degradation under Vista when compared to Windows XP using the exact same hardware. Is it noticeable? Probably, but it's somewhere around the level of 10%. There's also the consideration of DirectX 10 and the visual improvements you'll get in the future when more developers really take advantage of it. With a slightly better video card, you won't even really notice that you're going at 90FPS versus 100FPS.

What modern game is running at 100 fps on Vista? That's right, zero. I mean if you want to play WoW, which is, what, 4 years old, you can get 100fps, at that point the performance hit doesn't matter. The DX10 is a marketing scam as far as I can tell. MS is requiring people to run vista in order to play a game with DX10. But nowadays most games run DX9 and DX10, or only DX9. I'd rather have 10% of my performance back, since most games will be pushing the OS for all its worth. Even with killer rigs, modern games with maxed out settings will struggle to hit 30 fps. We need performance more than fancy tricks.

4. Vista Media Center is a fantastic DVR. Microsoft integrates their fantastic Windows Media Center Edition into Home Premium and Ultimate, and it's pretty much the best DVR you can get outside of getting a TiVo. Combine it with various Media Center Extenders, of which there are lots (such as the Xbox 360), you can get HDTV streamed to anywhere in your house from one computer in your office. Our only complaint is still that Cable Labs doesn't allow you to stick a CableCARD tuner onto just any appropriately spec'd Vista PC—you actually have to buy a machine pre-made for CableCARD.

Tivo is also a fantastic DVR. If you had a full Vista powered PC hooked up to your TV, that's fine. But 99.9% of us don't, its stupid and there is no need, not when tiny Linux powered TIVO is there to do the same thing but with 90% less horsepower/cost requirement. Why would you shell out $1000 for a glorified TIVO? I wouldn't.

5. The sleep mode works. Sleep mode in Windows XP was essentially a shortcut for locking up your computer and forcing you to reboot. It actually does what it's supposed to in Vista.

Admittedly, that's nice. But best sleep mode? The off button. Actually better - remove the plug, since there is still residual power even when off. But yeah, this would be a nice cost saver if it worked.

6. Built-in search is better and more useful. Vista's searching feature relies on cataloging your hard drive, then searching the resulting database to quickly (and easily) find your files. By default it's just limited to a couple user folders, but if you expand it to your entire hard drive, you'll be able to find anything fast, much like the way Spotlight works on a Mac. The downside is that during the first day or two, everything slows down while Vista indexes your computer. Best to leave it on overnight or over a weekend while you're away.

From what i've seen, this causes your HD to run at 100% all day every day. Probably a great way to ruin HDs. But yeah it is an admittedly useful thing. However, google already has google desktop, which does the same thing, on any OS, and it's free, and probably faster.

7. User Account Control is useful for some people. I have to admit that I've turned this off but UAC—the thing that pops up and asks you for your password whenever you do something on the system level—is useful in theory for many people, especially those who share a family computer. Hide the administrator password from your parents/grandparents/kids so they won't be able to install any weird apps they're not supposed to. In practice, it's a bit annoying in that it pops up for mundane things that shouldn't really need system-level clearance. It's a step in the right direction; however, if you want to disable UAC for certain programs, see here.

I have this same issue with Ubuntu. It's extremely annoying to get password prompts for doing things like writing CDs, changing the time, etc. If i could figure out how to turn it off, i would. And really, the physical security threat isn't an issue for almost all users. Its the stuff downloaded from the Internet, which UAC won't do anything to prevent.

8. Drivers support isn't as bad as it's made out to be. Although "Man gets Windows Vista to work with printer" may be an actual non-Onion headline, the root cause of his original woes was that the man installed a Windows XP printer driver instead of the correct Vista one. But there is a smaller percentage of users who—no matter how old or new their peripheral is—can't get it to work with Windows Vista. The blame for this lies on peripheral manufacturers who either can't or won't update their drivers to support the new OS. There's not much you or Microsoft can do here, but it's rarer than you'd think from reading the internet.

Maybe the manufacturer's know a POS OS when they see one? But its a cart and horse problem. I won't upgrade until i know all my perepherals can work on the new OS, while mfrs won't write drivers for OS's with small user bases. However, the OS should be good enough to have a layered driver mode that accepts legacy drivers. Otherwise you are killing off perepherals that haven't been manufacturered in the last few years.

9. It's not any buggier than Windows XP. This is a bit of a corollary to #1, but out of the many, many Vista users we've seen, they almost all agree that the only times Vista has crashed or blue-screened on them was when they were doing something they usually don't do. The OS by itself rarely crashes in everyday use, and compared to even OS X Leopard, it's pretty damn sturdy. In a year's worth of daily use, we think the OS has probably only crashed once, if that.

XP with SP2 is remarkably bug free, it doesn't crash during my normal use. And this is the 64 bit poorly supported version. So, my OS isn't buggy, why should i upgrade?

10. Vista is not slow if you have enough RAM. One of the main complaints that users have is that Vista is slow, but they either upgraded Vista from an old machine or they purchased a "Vista Ready" system with only 512MB to 1GB worth of RAM. You can run Vista with 1GB of RAM, but like OS X, you really want to have at least 2GB. Modern operating systems get fatter because they DO more stuff for you under the hood, such as optimizing your memory for the applications you run often so they load faster.

Translation: Vista requires a new CPU/MB/vid card, and much more memory than XP. When you have to throw over two gigs of memory in there, something is wrong. XP takes up about 300 MB of memory (plus the giant cache it uses). So basically with Vista not only do you have to shell out for the new OS (which is very expensive for an OS), but you have to shell out for new memory (like every other windows upgrade out there). No thanks.

You can take my XP when you pry it from my cold lifeless fingers. Or i'll just upgrade to Linux which is finally becoming stable and user friendly.

We're not saying that Vista doesn't have its faults or that Windows 7 won't be better, we're saying that Vista is just not as bad as people are making it out to be. If you're on XP and you're afraid to upgrade, don't be. It's no worse than Windows XP if you pay attention to the stuff I mentioned above. As long as you've got a reasonably decent machine—and if you're reading Giz it's likely that you do—you're pretty safe in upgrading.

So it's no worse than XP, except the huge resource requirements. So if you have nothing else to do but throw money at a stupid OS and invite all sorts of upgrade nightmares, go ahead and get Vista.


Anonymous said...

Dude most of this stuff is total bull. If you turn off features that are enabled by default that you don't need or use you can get vista to use anywhere from 300-400mb of memory (not including 3rd party anti-virus software and firewall). You can turn off sidebar, indexing, and aero and get this result.

I've run Age of Conan which recommends 2gb of memory to play on my outdated P4 rig with 1.5 gigs of ram (used to be two but one DIMM went out on me), Vista, and my outdated AGP graphics card and got about 30 fps. If youre a gamer you probably have 2 gigs of ram already, if you're not a gamer 512 or 1 gig is plenty for every day use under Vista.

Look into things before speculating.

Anonymous said...

Then doesn't it look like XP??? Why shell out the money for an OS just to turn off the features that make it look/feel like the previous OS.

Doesn't make sense.