Consumers choosing Vista over XP at a 7 to 1 margin.

There were a lot of articles written during the year 2007 that claimed Windows Vista as being just this side of a total bomb in terms of the number of folks switching to it. It appears that those articles aren’t entirely accurate:

Despite problems, consumers choosing Vista over XP – ArsTechnica.com

Windows Vista didn’t make a smooth market entrance; in fact, nearly every aspect of the operating system has been attacked since its release on January 30, 2007. Multiple SKUs allegedly confused customers, anti-DRM groups disliked Vista’s Protected Video Path and its overall DRM friendliness, and Microsoft’s definition of “Vista Capable” got the company sued. Toss in a plethora of bugs and the usual consumer backlash over GUI changes, and you’d think consumers would be avoiding Vista in droves. According to new information, however, they aren’t—Vista’s adoption rate over the past year actually exceeded XP’s in 2001, and consumers apparently choose Vista over XP by a 7:1 margin.

ZDNet’s Ed Bott has assembled a database of information drawn from Dell’s Outlet Center (full details on his methodology and results are available here). While small businesses definitely prefer Windows XP to Vista (70 percent to 30 percent), only 7 percent of consumers appear to be opting for Windows XP over Vista.

For all the bad press that’s a pretty good adoption rate, but then, as I’ve pointed out previously, we’ve been here before with the launch of Windows XP. When that OS launched there were tons of articles about how terrible it was compared to previous versions of Windows, how slow and resource intensive it was, and how some folks were swearing they’d never leave Windows 98 and so on and so forth. After awhile the noise died down and Windows XP went on to become the dominate Windows platform as more and more people bought new PCs that were built to handle it.

I’ve been running Vista for several months now and I have to admit that I think it’s a decent upgrade to XP. More telling to me, however, is the opinion of my wife who got used to running Vista during the period that she was without her own PC. When we got the generous donation of parts for her just before Christmas she told me that she’d rather have Vista on her PC even though the Socket 754 based motherboard she’s using doesn’t have active drivers being developed for it (it’s considered a Legacy device according to nVidia). Turns out the drivers built into Vista handles her motherboard just fine. Oddly enough it was two minor features of Vista that she’s grown to love that made her ask for it. First was a sidebar gadget called Notepad that works like an electronic post-it note and the other is the new Windows Calendar built into the OS. Trivial as they are she finds them useful enough to prefer Vista over XP. If Vista was truly problematic on her hardware she’d probably want to go back to XP, but it runs fine if a tad slow which is to be expected on Legacy hardware.

The biggest issue either of us have had with running Vista so far has been RAM. One gigabyte of RAM under Vista is about the same as running 512MB of RAM under XP. Both are the absolute minimum either OS should be run with. We’ll be bumping the RAM on both machines up sometime later in the month or early February as we get our finances on track after Christmas. Anne’s PC could do with a new SATA HD as well to take advantage of the speed boost that would give over the PATA drive she’s using now. If you’re running newer hardware that uses DDR2 RAM then this shouldn’t be much of an issue as DD2 RAM is dirt cheap these days. We’re still running DDR RAM so prices are still a bit high—$139 for 2 GBs as opposed to as low as $49.99 (after rebate) for some flavors of DDR2 RAM.

If Vista were half as bad as some of these articles make it out to be then I’d be back in Windows XP myself, but the truth is the hype over how horrible it is is more a statement of how much people hate change. Sure there’s enough stuff in different places that there’s a learning curve and some things, sharing printers and files, is slightly more complicated because they’ve increased the security granularity, but that’s just an education issue. As more folks upgrade their hardware to models that are built to run Vista properly a lot of the noise you’re hearing will once again die away and by the time Windows 7 comes along everyone will be ready to start the bitch fest all over again.

Which brings us to the question of whether you should make the switch. The answer I give most folks these days is the following: If you’re running hardware that’s a year or more older then you may want to stick with XP depending on how high end it was when you bought it, but if you’re building/buying a new machine and plan to get at least 1GB of RAM in it then there’s nothing so wrong with Vista that you should avoid it. It’s going to be the default Windows platform eventually anyway and businesses will eventually be switching as well. Here at The Automotive Company™ we’re still migrating some users from Windows 2000 (a dead OS as far as Microsoft is concerned) to Windows XP (which Microsoft considers all but dead) and they’ve been testing Vista builds for quite awhile now. Chances are they’ll make the switch to Vista with the next two years, if not sooner. Big business is always slow to upgrade so the fact that they’ve not rushed to Vista doesn’t really mean a thing, but that 7 to 1 ratio of consumers making the switch does.

 

18 thoughts on “Consumers choosing Vista over XP at a 7 to 1 margin.

  1. I would guess most people aren’t ‘choosing’.  You get what your given when you buy a new machine.  If you self build you have to buy whats on sale, which ain’t XP.

  2. I have to disagree.  Irregardless of the hardware issues, there’s simply no need to upgrade to Vista.  XP works very well at this point, and will be even a little bit faster and more secure with Service Pack 3.  Vista’s security “improvements” are nothing but band-aids, and encourage “click-thru-yes-yes-yes” of it’s “User Account Control” so dummies can install their precious teddy-bear screen savers/trojan viruses!
    OK, OK, I’m a Ubuntu user, so I do hate Windows, but I’m also an IT pro that you call when your PC gets muffed up, and Vista has given us some serious issues with just about everything!
    http://badvista.fsf.org/

  3. People pay for bottled water too. You carry on mate, buying this pre-installed forced upgrade down the road proprietory nonsense. Keep paying for crap software forever if you want … muhahahahahaha!!!!!!

  4. Google has a Firefox add-on for Notebooking features that I use more or less exactly like you describe the Vista tool, except it’s stored (I guess) somewhere in my Gmail account so I can access those notes anywhere I have access to the internet.

  5. I suppose I opted for a copy, but only because I picked it up for $20 from my university.  Sooo… a couple years down the road, when they have all of the bugs worked out(yeah, joking of course), I’ll activate it.  That said, I’m about to uninstall vista on my roommate’s computer and roll him back to xp.  He enjoys playing some older games and many of them just won’t run properly.  That and the lack of performance is just disheartening.  He even received a “red screen of death” in Vista.  Pretty scary.  The blue screen was bad enough, but red? I poo’ed a little when I saw it.
    – Matt

  6. What LH and DOF said. I think the results of the one dudes study is biased. Most people don’t have the option to buy XP versus Vista, so of course the number of people using Vista is going to be high. M$ created a system where that is true. What is statistically noteworthy is that 4 major companies, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Compaq actually give customers a choice for OS. Why do you suppose they do this? Or better yet, why do you suppose M$ allows this? Especially if Vista is as great an OS as the article and M$ would have us believe.

    For all the bad press that’s a pretty good adoption rate, but then, as I’ve pointed out previously, we’ve been here before with the launch of Windows XP. When that OS launched there were tons of articles about how terrible it was compared to previous versions of Windows, how slow and resource intensive it was, and how some folks were swearing they’d never leave Windows 98 and so on and so forth. After awhile the noise died down and Windows XP went on to become the dominate Windows platform as more and more people bought new PCs that were built to handle it.

    I’ve had qualms with this statement for quite some time now. Maybe I was too young in the IT world and missed all the articles and statements and what-not, but I just don’t remember a negative buzz for XP. I by no means think my opinion here to be necessarily correct (I was just starting my first IT job around the time XP came out), but I remember all my tech friends, co-workers, Maximum PC, and PC World articles to be extremely positive toward XP initially and once it came out and was generally adopted. I don’t remember reading or hearing any negatives, besides that it’s the bleeding edge.

    I will agree with you that Vista is a good upgrade for consumers. Most users can fix the Vista annoyances and will enjoy the minor changes and fixes. But for businesses it’s going to be hard with older hardware, and little money to upgrade. I recently checked how Vista does on our Dell 270s, and the install lead to constant reboot and BSOD messages. I actually had to upgrade from a fresh XP install to Vista, I couldn’t get a fresh Vista install to work properly. For where I work this is a major issue.

    As an Ubuntu user for more than a year now I find it pretty lame that I can get Beryl running on a low end system, one that Vista would not even install on. I’ve even heard of Ubuntu users getting Beryl to run on PIIIs, systems that barely support XP SP2. So Aero Glass and it’s super fast hardware needs is not impressive to me at all.

    I wouldn’t be surprised is M$ followed Apple and created a new OS in the next 5 years that runs on top of SUSE architecture. The M$ kernel is slowly dieing.

  7. My specific complaints derive from our experiments here.  We have 500+ computers in the building, all under four years old, and only a small minority of them can Vistafy.

    • At 1gb RAM, it beats the heck out of the hard drive
    • It breaks a lot of our applications
    • At 2gb RAM, it isn’t all that fast
    • Cotton Candy interface and pointless changes, even some loss of functions
    • Not all that Ghost friendly
    • A different flavor for every purpose under the sun

    But if you have a new computer and it happens to run well on it, and you happen to like the interface and it doesn’t happen to break any of your applications, great.

  8. Woo. I’m taking a bit of a beating here for not bashing Vista. Let’s see if I can address some of these points:

    LH writes…

    I would guess most people aren’t ‘choosing’.  You get what your given when you buy a new machine.  If you self build you have to buy whats on sale, which ain’t XP.

    Not entirely true. Microsoft has been letting PC makers offer downgrades to XP for awhile now, though that’s generally on the business class machines. Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Gateway all have machines that you can purchase with XP instead of Vista and Dell is even bucking Microsoft by offering XP on some consumer class machines as well.

    Additionally Windows XP is still purchasable from just about every mail order house system builders tend to buy from and even retail stores such as Best Buy still sell it. If folks really would rather stick with XP on a new machine there’s no reason they can’t.

    That said, you’re right that a lot of folks just go with Vista when they buy a new machine. The implication that they don’t have a choice, however, isn’t accurate.

    Antifaithstl writes…

    I have to disagree.  Irregardless of the hardware issues, there’s simply no need to upgrade to Vista.

    I never said there was a need to upgrade to Vista.  I said that if you’re buying/building a new PC that there’s nothing so wrong with Vista that you should avoid it.

    XP works very well at this point, and will be even a little bit faster and more secure with Service Pack 3.  Vista’s security “improvements” are nothing but band-aids, and encourage “click-thru-yes-yes-yes” of it’s “User Account Control” so dummies can install their precious teddy-bear screen savers/trojan viruses!

    I disagree about the security improvements in Vista just being band-aids. Yes, the User Account Control (UAC) is annoying and likely to be ignored by clueless users, but then how many Mac users grant admin rights whenever they’re prompted without thinking much about it? People have been calling for Microsoft to implement something like UAC for years and then when they do everyone bitches about it.

    A lot of the improvements are under the hood, so to speak, and things you wouldn’t directly see. Things such as Address Space Layout Randomization, full support for Data Execution Prevention, Mandatory Integrity Control for application isolation, Windows Service Hardening to keep malware from piggybacking on system services, and Network Access Protection though, admittedly, this last feature doesn’t do much for consumers.

    The security improvements in Vista are quite significant and while they won’t spell the end to the need for virus scanners and firewalls anytime soon, they help to reduce the risk.

    OK, OK, I’m a Ubuntu user, so I do hate Windows, but I’m also an IT pro that you call when your PC gets muffed up, and Vista has given us some serious issues with just about everything!

    I’m also an IT professional and in addition to doing it as a living I do a lot of side work. The Automotive Company™ I work for doesn’t currently have Vista on production machines, but many of my side business clients do use Vista which is part of why I made the switch. Can’t support something you’re not familiar with after all. Over all Vista runs just fine for me and the folks who I support that use it. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have issues, but that none of them are deal breakers for most people.

    Moving on, Mark writes…

    People pay for bottled water too. You carry on mate, buying this pre-installed forced upgrade down the road proprietory nonsense. Keep paying for crap software forever if you want … muhahahahahaha!!!!!!

    Not sure the comparison to bottled water is accurate. I’ve said before that if any of the Windows alternative ever got to a point that I could do everything I do under Windows then I’d make the switch because I’m not particularly beholden to Windows. For me this primarily means gaming and while the Mac has gotten better with games it still lags very far behind Windows.

    We won’t even get into how laughable gaming under Linux is…

    Matt writes…

    I suppose I opted for a copy, but only because I picked it up for $20 from my university.  Sooo… a couple years down the road, when they have all of the bugs worked out(yeah, joking of course), I’ll activate it.

    I got both of my copies of Business Edition from Microsoft for free as part of a promotion. I probably wouldn’t be running Vista if I hadn’t.

    That said, I’m about to uninstall vista on my roommate’s computer and roll him back to xp.  He enjoys playing some older games and many of them just won’t run properly.  That and the lack of performance is just disheartening.

    Older software will be an issue for a lot of folks. So far all of the games I play regularly have run fine under Vista including Call of Duty 2 which Vista even tells you might not work properly.

    Performance-wise, I’ve noticed a downgrade in the move to Vista that appears largely to be RAM related. I’ll find out soon once I upgrade the RAM. The degradation is to be expected on older hardware and isn’t so bad that it’s a problem in my gaming. I did switch back to XP for a little while back when I first switch to Vista due to a driver issue, but updated drivers took care of that.

    He even received a “red screen of death” in Vista.  Pretty scary.  The blue screen was bad enough, but red? I poo’ed a little when I saw it.

    I’ve seen the RRoD crop up on a client’s PC, but I’ve not encountered it yet on either of my machines yet.

    Webs writes…

    What LH and DOF said. I think the results of the one dudes study is biased. Most people don’t have the option to buy XP versus Vista, so of course the number of people using Vista is going to be high. M$ created a system where that is true.

    You say this and then turn around and contradict yourself with this…

    What is statistically noteworthy is that 4 major companies, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Compaq actually give customers a choice for OS.

    Do you see how these two statements contradict each other?

    Why do you suppose they do this? Or better yet, why do you suppose M$ allows this? Especially if Vista is as great an OS as the article and M$ would have us believe.

    Because enough folks asked for it and it would be stupid not to listen if enough folks are asking for it. Truth is, Microsoft is trying to kill off XP support a lot earlier than they have with other OSes in the past and they know it. I’m not at all surprised that they would backpedal when the business community complained.

    I’ve had qualms with this statement for quite some time now. Maybe I was too young in the IT world and missed all the articles and statements and what-not, but I just don’t remember a negative buzz for XP. I by no means think my opinion here to be necessarily correct (I was just starting my first IT job around the time XP came out), but I remember all my tech friends, co-workers, Maximum PC, and PC World articles to be extremely positive toward XP initially and once it came out and was generally adopted. I don’t remember reading or hearing any negatives, besides that it’s the bleeding edge.

    I recall it well and I remember there being all sorts of bitching about Windows XP and its performance, particularly on older hardware. Among gamers for awhile it was ridiculed endlessly. Things didn’t start to settle down until after Service Pack 1 was released. In fact I recall that the recommendation among IT Pros was it wasn’t worth getting until SP1 came along. This is largely why so many people were saying they’d wait until SP1 of Vista before considering a switch.

     

    I will agree with you that Vista is a good upgrade for consumers. Most users can fix the Vista annoyances and will enjoy the minor changes and fixes. But for businesses it’s going to be hard with older hardware, and little money to upgrade. I recently checked how Vista does on our Dell 270s, and the install lead to constant reboot and BSOD messages. I actually had to upgrade from a fresh XP install to Vista, I couldn’t get a fresh Vista install to work properly. For where I work this is a major issue.

    As I said in my entry, Big Business will likely not make the switch to Vista anytime soon. I know for a fact that two of the Big Three automakers are still moving folks to Windows XP at this point. The move to Vista will happen faster than XP, however, because both companies have been moving to leased PCs rather than purchased over the past five years and, as a result, their hardware is rarely more than three years old. That alone will pretty much mean that they’ll make the switch within a couple of years.

    I suspect the same is true of a lot of big businesses. Smaller businesses trying to run Vista on older hardware are going to be disappointed, but then smaller businesses have different needs and will probably find XP more than useful for several years to come.

    As an Ubuntu user for more than a year now I find it pretty lame that I can get Beryl running on a low end system, one that Vista would not even install on. I’ve even heard of Ubuntu users getting Beryl to run on PIIIs, systems that barely support XP SP2. So Aero Glass and it’s super fast hardware needs is not impressive to me at all.

    That’s great and all, but until it’s user friendly enough that the average consumer can use it it’s a moot point. Call me when it’ll run most of the games I play and I’ll happily make the switch.

    I wouldn’t be surprised is M$ followed Apple and created a new OS in the next 5 years that runs on top of SUSE architecture. The M$ kernel is slowly dieing.

    I suspect the biggest contributer to Vista’s bloat is the insistence Microsoft has held onto that it should be as backwards compatible as possible. Apple broke from it’s old OS with the release of OS X years ago and Microsoft really needs to do the same thing with Windows 7. Whether they build it on top of some flavor of Linux or what have you is really up to them, but they need to make a clean break from the OSes of old.

    DOF writes…

    My specific complaints derive from our experiments here.  We have 500+ computers in the building, all under four years old, and only a small minority of them can Vistafy.

    Com’on, DOF, four years is old for computers. I would be very surprised if a four year old PC ran Vista well.

    At 1gb RAM, it beats the heck out of the hard drive

    As does XP at 512MB if you’re doing anything remotely memory intensive.

    It breaks a lot of our applications

    If they’re as old as the PCs then that’s not surprising either. Hard to judge this without knowing what they are though.

    At 2gb RAM, it isn’t all that fast

    Is that on the older hardware or newer? The newer machines with 2GB I’ve worked with seemed fine.

    Cotton Candy interface and pointless changes, even some loss of functions

    People bitched about Windows XP’s “Fisher Price Interface” as well, that’s subjective. I’m curious what functions you feel were lost though.

    Not all that Ghost friendly

    Is Ghost even still being produced these days? Last I heard it had ceased as it’s been superseded by other, better imaging programs. Again, if you’re using software that old I’m not surprised it’s not working well.

    A different flavor for every purpose under the sun

    Technically the same is true of Windows XP (e.g. Home, Pro, Media Center, etc.). At least with Vista it’s just an issue of parts of the OS being locked off for the lower versions as opposed to components literally being missing as was the case with XP.

    But if you have a new computer and it happens to run well on it, and you happen to like the interface and it doesn’t happen to break any of your applications, great.

    Which, again, is pretty much what folks said when Windows XP came out.

    Again, I’m not saying it doesn’t have issues or that it’s Bill Gate’s Gift to the Universe, but it’s not suffering from any worse problems than XP did during it’s first year or so. A lot of the complaints are the same ones we heard for XP and I suspect it’ll follow the same path as XP in terms of the noise dieing down as more and more folks buy new hardware and new software that are designed with Vista in mind.

  9. Les, I’m not beating up on you, and I hope no one else is either, but I do hope Vista will be the last iteration before MS$ follows Apple’s example of breaking from the past and rebuilding on a new foundation. As you say, backward compatibility has its price.

    I said all our computers were less than four years old; our IT director rotates systems continuously so the age curve peaks at around 1.5 years.  If you think about budgeting it is absolutely necessary to do it this way, or be prepared to crap an enormous budgetary load every 3 years.  This may be true in business as well as academia, I don’t know.

    Our 4-year old computers are performing the most mundane tasks, but think also about the advantage of a uniform build to an organization.  We do not have time to have very many builds. We do 2 a year (each one in three types for three models of machines) and that taxes us as it is.

    I don’t have a Vista machine here at home so can only think of two examples.  What the hell is up with Aeroglass?  It reduces object contrast while increasing image complexity, and is a real challenge to people with vision problems.  It adds nothing in functionality and we actually have to pay for the privilege of using it by a super-duper video card.  Another example is redesigned icons for no good reason.  How does a folder icon that is standing on its edge so that, visually, it appears its contents are about to spill out, better than a folder icon that is in the orientation with which people normally hold a real folder?  Changes in an interface should bloody well have a reason.  OK, another example: where’s the progress display on defragmentation?  (For that matter, couldn’t they have gone to a journaling file system that doesn’t need defragmentation?) 

    Apple is just as bad an offender with their cutsie-poo interface – you have to optimize it to turn some of that junk off and get it to work like a computer with visible objects you can handle onscreen.  Same with Webs’ Beryl – how are multiple desktops enhanced by visualizing them as different sides of a cube.  AND WHY DO ALL THEM WHIPPERSNAPPERS WEAR THEM CRAZY STYLES!  WHY DON’T THEY GET A DAMN HAIRCUT AND STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT!!!!!

    Sorry, (straightens tie) got a little carried away there red face

    As for “old software” that is a fact of life in an academic environment.  Some statistical analysis tools – very powerful stuff and very expensive but not necessarily well-engineered – lag way behind the industry in OS compatibility.  “Our Vista version is due out in six months, and will be for the next two years.  Then it will need a number of patches to run, will format differently, and our lawyers will take forever to negotiate licensing with the Campus software licensing body.  Then it has to go through comptroller, etc.  Business simulation software, same set of problems. 

    You might think; “Well then what would be the advantage of a complete break?”  It would  be a big pain, and all the problems I just mentioned, getting the companies to get with the program, licensing, funding, etc.  But at least it would be a truly updated platform and get the products into a development cycle for *nix with a longer future.  My message to M$ is; “don’t screw with us if you’re not going to get on the right road.”  If we have to pay for new versions of the applications, then I want a really new (and industry standard) OS to run it on.

    As for Vista needing 2g memory to run well (and it seems to unless you have a dual-core processor) I am with Webs in being annoyed that Linux will run great on a P4 with 1gb. 

    Ghost may not be the most recent imaging software but it is one more thing we have to pay for – licensing by the seat – if we want to upgrade.  We’re squeezing pennies.  I have not seen any good replacements for that: 1) can be easily licensed by our university, 2) multicast without issues in our network environment, and 3) don’t wipe out our entire software budget for the year. 

    I must defer to you on gaming issues, of course.

  10. I hope you know I never mean any harm cheese

    You say this and then turn around and contradict yourself with this…

    What I meant was this:
    What LH and DOF said. I think the results of the one dudes study is biased. Most people AS IN CONSUMERS don’t have the option to buy XP versus Vista, so of course the number of people using Vista is going to be high. M$ created a system where that is true.

    So I don’t see a contradiction. Consumers don’t really have an option, and my other point was that those companies only offer XP to business users, and Dell with limited offerings to home users. So again, the average user still isn’t getting a choice and I still think that statistic above is biased.

    Because enough folks asked for it and it would be stupid not to listen if enough folks are asking for it.

    Yes, but we still aren’t getting to the root. I can’t imagine M$ allowing retailers to sell XP if Vista was so great. By extending support for XP I think M$ has more to lose because they aren’t getting people hooked to the new M$ product. In the long run this costs them in lost profit.

    If games are not much of a concern, and there aren’t too many software products tied to XP, there is no reason someone couldn’t switch to MAC or Linux. The software has not only become more stable but easier to use. Obviously this doesn’t do many readers here any good, but is more of a note for those without easy access to a local tech.

  11. This was going to be a knee jerk post to what I read on the main page, but I started reading through the comments and finally Les’s small novel… NOT that I am complaining as I have a habit of getting a little wordy in my posts too.

    My parents recently bought a Dell and as uncomputer savvy as they are they were aware of the option to choose XP over Vista.  They went with Vista on the basis that coming from Dell it should work right out of the box and if they didn’t get it now they would end up buying it down the road as XP fades into obsolescence.  Their prior machine was a Celeron 500mhz with 512MB of RAM that I had built for myself after college their machine before that was a Mac 512k (yeah as in the small square macs from the late 80’s where everything ran off of Single Density 3.5” disks).  I kept that machine running smoothly for a long time for them as they don’t tend to upgrade PC’s very often.  Which was also part of the reasoning behind just getting Vista installed on a new machine instead of XP.

    I started in I.T. right about the time everyone was switching from windows 3.1 to Windows 95 I remember that process being far more painful than the last three OS upgrades (considering that you don’t count Windows ME)  The thing to remember was that there was a lot of angry feelings directed at Microsoft after Windows ME release and the realization that a lot of people were sold a half-baked OS.  So when comparing ME to XP, even with XP’s initial shortcomings it still seemed like the better option for those who didn’t want to downgrade all the way to 98se.  I was one of the people that didn’t touch XP and stuck with ‘98se until after the first service pack was released, and gaming performance began to step up.  Also having a few “killer” games that needed XP to run them probably helped in getting the last die hards to make the switch.

    I bought Vista last year about a month after it’s release.  I set up my current machine with a dual boot option with both XP and Vista.  Much like Les a lot of people were getting it preinstalled on their new (personal, not business) machines and I needed to become familiar with it.  On my P4EE@3.0Ghz with 2GB of ram and a Nvidia 6800GT graphics card and a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 I had nothing but problems.  I to this day get massive screen artifacts anytime UAC comes up and my music skips and pops like I am trying to listen to MP3’s on my old P90.  I just ordered all the components to build a new dual core machine that I’m hoping will run okay with Vista.  I’m guessing I’ll have to use the built in audio on the motherboard as I’ve herd SoundBlaster cards still have issues. 

    As for the over all feel and look of Vista it’s a little different, but felt second nature after a few hours of messing around with all the settings and such.  The real deciding factor is the same as it was for XP.  Once they finally release a “killer” game for Vista a lot of the loudest complainers of Vista will end up coming over to the new OS.

    I work for the State of Alaska in I.T. for the State Library and Archives.  We are no where near even thinking about migrating to Vista at this point.  The last big hardware upgrade we did was a couple of years ago and I’m pretty sure almost none of those machines would be able to handle Vista well.  So until we have the money for a big hardware refresh I don’t see Vista in our future.  As trying to support two generations of OS’s would create it’s own series of problems requiring ever more obscure solutions.  I used to work for the Juneau School District in I.T. and was in charge of two schools migration to OS X.  The problem was that initially it was only the schools servers that had OS X on them while all the computers (over 10 years old at the time) were still running Mac OS 7.5.5 which was about as high an OS as they could go and 7.5.5 wasn’t compatible with OS X server.  The amount of custom coded work arounds and “tricks” to get AppleTalk to play nice with OS X took the better part of 18 months after the switch. 

    wow, that was a long post, but I don’t think I beat Les’s prior post

  12. DOF writes…

    Les, I’m not beating up on you, and I hope no one else is either, but I do hope Vista will be the last iteration before MS$ follows Apple’s example of breaking from the past and rebuilding on a new foundation. As you say, backward compatibility has its price.

    I think they’re going to have to do this eventually and I think Vista is proof of that fact. A new OS from scratch eliminating trying to stay compatible all the way back to Windows 3.1 would do wonders for the size of the OS.

    I said all our computers were less than four years old; our IT director rotates systems continuously so the age curve peaks at around 1.5 years.  If you think about budgeting it is absolutely necessary to do it this way, or be prepared to crap an enormous budgetary load every 3 years.  This may be true in business as well as academia, I don’t know.

    I misunderstood and I apologize for that. The way I read your comment made it sound like all the machines were around four years old. A machine one and a half years old should be able to run Vista without too much trouble.

    Our 4-year old computers are performing the most mundane tasks, but think also about the advantage of a uniform build to an organization.  We do not have time to have very many builds. We do 2 a year (each one in three types for three models of machines) and that taxes us as it is.

    Most big businesses try to stick for fairly uniform builds as well. At least the ones I’ve worked for have. At Ford they had four or so variations on a standard workstation with an disk image for each to get the basics and the drivers on. Everything else would come as a software push after the initial staging. The current Big Three company I work for does it more or less the same way, just different tools.

    That said there’s nothing that says Vista can’t be deployed the same way. And, because it is all one package with bits locked down depending on the version, you don’t really have to worry too much about which version you purchase. If worse comes to worst you can always unlock the next step up.

    I don’t have a Vista machine here at home so can only think of two examples.  What the hell is up with Aeroglass?  It reduces object contrast while increasing image complexity, and is a real challenge to people with vision problems.

    I must confess I’m not sure what you’re speaking of here. My desktop under Aeroglass looks the same as it did under Windows XP desktop. If anything, it’s clearer to me. The icons are certainly bigger and the text is clear and readable. Granted I have pretty good vision, but I don’t notice a difference between the XP box I use at work and the Vista box I’m using here at home. The one thing I can think of that you might be talking about is the semi-transparent window frames. I can see where those might be hard on folks with bad eyes, but you can turn that off if you wish.

    The ability to increase the text DPI (for bigger fonts) is still there and the ability to modify the appearance is still there, though you do have to click a link to get to the same appearance settings window as XP has. You can even set it back to Windows Standard, Classic, and various High Contrast settings.

    It adds nothing in functionality and we actually have to pay for the privilege of using it by a super-duper video card.

    That’s not entirely true. It does add new functionality though you could argue how necessary those functions are. The Rolodex task switching actually does come in handy in my opinion as do the live previews on the task bar, though, again, I have pretty good eyesight.

    Aero is hardly a requirement, though. You can turn it off if you prefer the old style of desktop and, if your video card isn’t up to handling it, it’ll turn itself off.

    Another example is redesigned icons for no good reason.  How does a folder icon that is standing on its edge so that, visually, it appears its contents are about to spill out, better than a folder icon that is in the orientation with which people normally hold a real folder?  Changes in an interface should bloody well have a reason.

    I actually like the new folder icons better, but this is a rather subjective issue. I’m one of those folks who tended to customize the icons on his Windows XP install though.

    OK, another example: where’s the progress display on defragmentation?  (For that matter, couldn’t they have gone to a journaling file system that doesn’t need defragmentation?)

    Originally there was supposed to be an entirely new file system in Vista called WinFS.  It ended up not happening for various reasons and there’s been no word on if an alternative file system will ever be offered under Vista.

    As for Disk Defragmenter losing its progress bar, well I can only speculate. I’d guess it was to encourage folks to just set it to run at a scheduled time so they could just forget about it. I use O&O;Defrag myself so I hadn’t noticed.

    Apple is just as bad an offender with their cutsie-poo interface – you have to optimize it to turn some of that junk off and get it to work like a computer with visible objects you can handle onscreen.  Same with Webs’ Beryl – how are multiple desktops enhanced by visualizing them as different sides of a cube.  AND WHY DO ALL THEM WHIPPERSNAPPERS WEAR THEM CRAZY STYLES!  WHY DON’T THEY GET A DAMN HAIRCUT AND STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT!!!!!

    Sorry, (straightens tie) got a little carried away there

    Com’on DOF, those crazy desktop styles are about as close to being fashionable as a geek like me is ever likely to get!

    As for “old software” that is a fact of life in an academic environment.  Some statistical analysis tools – very powerful stuff and very expensive but not necessarily well-engineered – lag way behind the industry in OS compatibility.  “Our Vista version is due out in six months, and will be for the next two years.  Then it will need a number of patches to run, will format differently, and our lawyers will take forever to negotiate licensing with the Campus software licensing body.  Then it has to go through comptroller, etc.  Business simulation software, same set of problems.

    The same thing was true at the launch of Windows XP. Consider this Forbes article from Sep. 1st, 2001:

      In tests on several computers, I ended up with a machine that would not turn off, a modem that stopped working, a wireless network card that wouldn’t connect and an erstwhile all-in-one printer/scanner/fax that was transmogrified into a some-in-one printer/scanner. When I pointed out these and other anomalies to Shawn Sanford, group product manager for Windows, he said, “It was time to focus on the quality of the product. People don’t want to have crashes.”

      No argument there; users have been moaning about forced reboots since Windows first appeared. But Sanford added, “We had to cut off some of the compatibility. There’s gonna be issues with old devices and legacy software.”

      Basically, hardware may not work right under Windows XP until somebody gets around to writing new software for it, and old programs may have problems, too. Before installation, a built-in “Upgrade Advisor” may offer warnings such as, “This version of IrDA Protocol will not work with Windows XP.” Translation into human: Install XP and your infrared port will stop working.

      Software can be problematic, too. Current antivirus programs and many other utilities are guaranteed to be useless until you upgrade them. Even Microsoft’s new Train Simulator game ran into glitches.

      On the desktop machine I normally use to test products, the Upgrade Advisor came up with a mere 27 items in the categories Software That Must Be Permanently Removed, Hardware That Might Need Additional Files, Scanners or Digital Cameras That Might Not Work, Software That Does Not Support Windows XP, Software That Must Be Reinstalled, Software That Might Not Support Windows XP, and Incompatible Hardware Accessories, which included the software for a Microsoft mouse. At that point I filed Windows XP in the category Software I Will Never, Ever Install On This Machine. Spend $99 to “upgrade” a computer to Windows XP only if you really, really want to be humming “Broken Things” a lot.

    Sound at all familiar?

    You might think; “Well then what would be the advantage of a complete break?” It would be a big pain, and all the problems I just mentioned, getting the companies to get with the program, licensing, funding, etc.  But at least it would be a truly updated platform and get the products into a development cycle for *nix with a longer future.  My message to M$ is; “don’t screw with us if you’re not going to get on the right road.” If we have to pay for new versions of the applications, then I want a really new (and industry standard) OS to run it on.

    Do you really think that if Microsoft made a clean break with the next OS that all the companies would jump on board and do what needs to be done to upgrade all their software?

    Or do you think, like I’m willing to bet, they’d piss and moan and swear to never leave Vista behind because they’ve invested so much time and money into what they’re using already much as so many are doing now with XP over Vista?

    And, arguably, Windows is the industry standard.

    As for Vista needing 2g memory to run well (and it seems to unless you have a dual-core processor) I am with Webs in being annoyed that Linux will run great on a P4 with 1gb.

    As I said previously: That’s nothing new. Every version of Windows has required more resources than the previous one.

    Sure we can sit around and argue over all the trivial things that have been added to Vista that may or may not be needed or necessary, but a lot of people use those trivial things. Again, consider my wife as a prime example of the computer-literate-but-not-necessarily-techy person. She found two rather trivial features to be enough to make her want to run Vista over XP.

    Ghost may not be the most recent imaging software but it is one more thing we have to pay for – licensing by the seat – if we want to upgrade.  We’re squeezing pennies.  I have not seen any good replacements for that: 1) can be easily licensed by our university, 2) multicast without issues in our network environment, and 3) don’t wipe out our entire software budget for the year.

    There’s a a lot of disk imaging tools out there these days including a few Open Source options. Surely there’s something that wouldn’t break the bank. Incidentally it looks like Ghost is still in development as well.

    In the OSS realm there’s Clonezilla, FOG, and G4L which will all handle NTFS disks. There’s a few freeware imaging programs as well plus various commercial packages at various prices.

  13. Double dipping because I was long-winded and Webs and LostAlaska snuck in.

    First Webs…

    So I don’t see a contradiction. Consumers don’t really have an option, and my other point was that those companies only offer XP to business users, and Dell with limited offerings to home users. So again, the average user still isn’t getting a choice and I still think that statistic above is biased.

    But I’ve shown that consumers do have the option. They may need to go with a different class of machine, but they have that option.

    Yes, but we still aren’t getting to the root. I can’t imagine M$ allowing retailers to sell XP if Vista was so great. By extending support for XP I think M$ has more to lose because they aren’t getting people hooked to the new M$ product. In the long run this costs them in lost profit.

    Not really. People will have to make the switch to Vista eventually one way or the other if they want to continue to run Windows software. Microsoft would prefer to have it happen sooner rather than later, but it’s not like sales of Windows is their only source of income.

    Keep in mind that I’m not claiming Vista is the end-all be-all of operating systems, but then again neither was XP when it launched. It is an improvement in many ways and it also has its own set of failings.

    If games are not much of a concern, and there aren’t too many software products tied to XP, there is no reason someone couldn’t switch to MAC or Linux. The software has not only become more stable but easier to use.

    I agree completely.

    LA writes…

    I started in I.T. right about the time everyone was switching from windows 3.1 to Windows 95 I remember that process being far more painful than the last three OS upgrades (considering that you don’t count Windows ME) The thing to remember was that there was a lot of angry feelings directed at Microsoft after Windows ME release and the realization that a lot of people were sold a half-baked OS.  So when comparing ME to XP, even with XP’s initial shortcomings it still seemed like the better option for those who didn’t want to downgrade all the way to 98se.  I was one of the people that didn’t touch XP and stuck with ‘98se until after the first service pack was released, and gaming performance began to step up.  Also having a few “killer” games that needed XP to run them probably helped in getting the last die hards to make the switch.

    Sounds like you can recall the launch of Windows XP as well as I can. Am I lying about the complaints?

    I just ordered all the components to build a new dual core machine that I’m hoping will run okay with Vista.  I’m guessing I’ll have to use the built in audio on the motherboard as I’ve herd SoundBlaster cards still have issues.

    Let us know how it goes. I’d be interested to hear about it myself.

  14. Les, I’m linking this discussion in the notes to my recent post on buying laptop computers.  Anyone wanting to weigh the advantages could hardly do better.

    That said, horsefeathers.  The NT kernel is old and busted.  It is time for M$ to move on.  But the company does not seem to want to take its medicine as Apple has.

  15. Les, They may have an option, but they may not know that.  I’m going to try this out at the local PC superstore (PC World) Bear in mind that most people who buy computers now are not techies or geeks like us (and I’m not the geek I once was). Why would they ask? Vista is pushed in all the ads here, They go into PC world and say does it do x,y,z. There’s stuff you don’t do (DIY and cars if I recall). These people are the puter equivelent of that.

    People go on about other o/s. Only one question matters.  Will it run all these programs I have? Can my kid get a game for it.  I’m still annoyed that “X-Com Enemy unknown” doesn’t work on post 3.11/DOS post 486!

  16. I work for some city governments and they are not looking to upgrade to Vista any time soon (one of them said about 2 or 3 years to start switching). Maybe I could get a new laptop with Vista and leave my desktop on XP. Would the WiFi I use communicate with both machines so I can use just one printer?

  17. There were initial reports of Vista being flaky with certain wireless products, but I have not seen or had the same problems.

    This does remind me of another grip with Vista, networking. I have a share drive built using FreeNAS, and my friends came over for a LAN party. All of us were using Vista Ultimate and we had endless problems getting everyone on the share drive. It made no sense, because my setup was fine and never had a problem till 3 Vista machines got together. My friends whom are all pretty enamored with Vista had the same grip about networking in Vista. It just sucks…

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