A couple of years back whilst I was still operating in Windows-land, I signed up to the Microsoft beta testing program. I’d become bored of XP and am the kind of person always excited by emerging technologies – where things are headed. So I ran Windows Longhorn (the codename for Vista) for about six months before I realised the benefit was really only one way. I also got very uncomfortable with what I was being asked to do, how little feedback there was from the Microsoft development team and how much time was taken testing the Windows Genuine Advantage parts of the OS. As time went on I just spent more time with Linux (then Mandrake) and less and less time using Windows.
So it was a strange experience to actually come face to face with Vista for the first time today. Its been six months since Vista’s release and this is the first time I’ve even seen it running. I remember attending the launch party in Sydney for XP (and wincing every time Bill Gates said “Cool” – he is the only man I know who can’t carry it off with any conviction). I was already running XP and can remember booting into it for the first time and thinking after an hour or so of use that this really was a good operating system. I still think it is the best they have ever produced. It does the job – the only thing I believe they could have improved on was the shipping of the firewall switched on by default.
So what of Vista? Well, it reminds me of listening to the latest Prodigy album. I thought, after all this time and all that money, “Is that really it?”. Vista (or at least the Lenovo-customised version of it) is a bloated horrid mess. Perhaps I’ve become too *nixified, too used to GNOME and the all-you-need-and-nothing-more mentality. Everywhere, there were pop-ups. Surely there is nothing worse than booting into a new computer for the first time and getting the warning “Your computer is at risk”. What, already? You mean I have to buy more software to slow my computer down just to check every incoming and outgoing file to see if it has a virus? Okay, I didn’t buy antivirus – I did what most people do and installed AVG. Still, I quickly got sick of the Allow or Deny prompts and the flashy graphics that, like the Linux equivalents, just don’t seem to add anything. Sure the finish is polished but there is too much for the new user, too much that has been shifted around. We recently went to look at a house we were thinking of buying and my younger brother commented that the doors seemed to take up too much room and make it seem cluttered. I know that Vista reviews are extremely old hat by now but I think if anything that sums up my experience, just too many doors.
The problem is, I have to sell it to a 60+ year old tomorrow and when an Internet Explorer upgrade turns the air blue, this is not going to be pretty.