Vista Hating: The Final Chapter

A couple of months ago, I asked readers why people "hate" Windows Vista. I got--and continue to get--lots of responses to my October 31, 2007, commentary ("Why, Exactly, Does Everyone "Hate" Vista?") and December 5, 2007, commentary "How Do People Hate Vista? Let Me Count the Ways…"). As always, thanks for that! I saw four main reasons why some readers hate Vista: "It has a new UI that I don't want to learn," "It doesn't offer that much improvement for the effort of migrating to it," "It's slower than Windows XP," and "We big customers now have to deal with the product-activation irritation that small firms and homes have dealt with since XP." These arguments cover most Vista-haters' objections, but there are many more reasons why people dislike the new OS. Now, I don't want to belabor the point further (although it's sort of interesting from a "sociology of computers" point of view), so let's see how many more I can briefly cover here.

"I hate Vista's new digital rights management (DRM) system," several readers wrote. They're referring to the fact that Microsoft requires much of the Vista software that plays music or videos to be digitally signed by Microsoft. Redmond set these restrictions because it wants to keep people from snooping on multimedia playback, as that sort of snooping would make life easier for people trying to crack the encryption schemes in DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, and the like. I must agree that I find this requirement irritating, but honestly there's always been a similar "protected path" for some audio playback code in parts of XP. Thank heavens we've still got the Linux guys to figure out how to copy DVDs!

As I've noted before, some Vista complaints arise from, well, faulty memories. Some readers have claimed that while XP arrived with full driver support, Vista did not; some versions of Vista don't support full networking, whereas all versions of XP do; and upgrading to Windows 2000 from Windows NT 4.0 was compelling because of the mountain of patches that NT 4.0 required upon installation, while Vista lacks such attraction. I was there in 2001, when XP lacked a bunch of patches and XP driver support wasn't considered de rigueur for hardware vendors until late 2003. XP Home has always lacked full networking capabilities, and to the patching argument, take a look at the number of patches that any new copy of XP requires. Six years is a long time, and XP needs a lot of patches. (Don't get me wrong--XP is still a great OS and no XP user needs to upgrade. But then, neither would a Win2K Pro user, if Microsoft weren't phasing out support for Win2K. But saying that XP appeared to great anticipation, with full hardware support, and nary a hitch is, well, rosy hindsight.)

A few other readers wrote in, "The new UI is unprofessional-looking," adding that "Vista Business shouldn't include the eye candy"--a darned interesting perspective! About all the advice that I can offer these readers is to turn off Aero Glass, change the theme to "Windows Classic," and kill the Sidebar. "It takes more clicks to get to many administrative tools--the network properties in particular," others opined, and I can't agree more. That's one reason that I'm a command-line fancier!

"Vista is less secure than XP," one reader complained, citing it as a major reason why he wouldn't recommend Vista to his firm. Puzzled, I reminded him of Vista's revamped firewall, BitLocker, the new services architecture, randomized code location (which makes writing worms very, very difficult), and a host of new security stuff. "How," I asked, "is this less secure?" His answer was that so many people perceive Vista to be less secure, and "perception is reality!"

Perhaps that's the salient point here. Two readers wondered why I was "toadying" to Microsoft trying to get people to buy Vista. (They used less kind words.) As I've said before, I couldn't give a hoot what OS people buy; I just didn't understand what all of the Vista hollering was all about. Now I understand better. And friends, if perception is indeed reality, then the smartest marketing decision is clearly to invite you all back next month for my first Macintosh column. See you then!

(Okay, that was a joke.)

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