Vista - beta for the masses
I recently installed Windows Vista on my girlfriends computer. The previous Windows XP already had some graphics issues and then died away completely after failing to install some update.
Initially I was quite impressed with Vista. I had installed it before on my MacBook Pro, just for the fun of it, but deleted it again later as it’s simply to big to keep around just for fun. On the 2.4 GHz Dell machine it looked quite nice, and many long awaited features are there.
However I soon found out that you’ll need new drivers for any existing hardware you have. Not like Windows NT -> 2000 -> XP, were some or most drivers continued to work. Also, current driver support by manufacturers is quite bad, only beta drivers if any available.
This is somewhat to be expected, as Vista is really new. However what strikes me is the amount of bugs. I installed nearly all Windows versions when they were quite new, and I never noticed real showstopper bugs. With Vista, the first thing you see from the new Explorer is a hang. Then USB devices randomly fail. Hotplug of USB stops working, all new applications have major stability issues. Mix in some good old friends from Windows XP (randome Explorer hangs). This is the by far worst Windows release I’ve ever seen. At the same time it’s the most promising, as it provides a lot of really nice features and applications. However Microsoft seems to have a major problem at controlling that complexity and at productivity. Apple ships operating systems with a comparable feature set without near as many issues, and with much less personnel.
The new user interface in Vista is quite shiny. The task bar and alt-tabbing with window previews are nice. But nothing totally revolutionary, they mostly copied the features from OS X (just as they did with the applications and even the background image on the login screen…).
So I’m still quite happy I got my Mac. I had my share of hardware troubles, but Mac OS X makes up for that. Windows still has a lot of weird user interfaces, and now also a lot of stability issues.