Why does Vista get such a bad rap??

Windows Vista

So those of you that know me know that I’m a bit of a techie.  While I’ve always been a ‘PC’ user, and a ‘Microsoft’ user, I don’t think of myself as a fanboy of either.  I sure wouldn’t turn down a nice MacBook and copy of Aperture if it happened to drop in my lap – that’s for sure!  I’d even really suggest someone seriously consider getting a mac if they’re looking for a new computer.

I even get a chuckle out of those Mac vs. PC commercials.  But I’m having a hard time understanding just why Vista is getting such a bad response from everyone – not just those silly commercials.  I didn’t jump right out and adopt Vista right away – so I’m not one of those ‘Vista is the best thing ever’ guys.  I kept using XP Pro and XP Media Center Edition until recently.  Why?  Well, the easiest explanation is they worked just fine.  I’ve gotten a bit older, and I’m not really up for changing everything just because there’s something new there anymore.  However, the time has finally come, and I’ve switched to Vista using the Dell upgrade to my laptop, and used it to build my new home theater PC (HTPC).

So have I had problems by the boatload, as would be suggested by all the stories and ads?  Nope.  How many issues have I had?  Well, zero to be precise.  Ah – but I’m a techie, so I know how to fix everything myself and therefore wouldn’t have any problems.  Well, that may be true – but I’ve been a manager for a while now, so I’m not quite as techie as I used to be.   But being absolutely honest, I haven’t done a lick of fine-tuning or tweaking to either system.  They just work.  Now, granted – there’s a few things I’ve run into…

But it’s not really Vista’s fault on the few things I’ve encountered.  The biggest thing so far has been software compatibility.  I know lots of people have complained about this, but truth be told – they have been complaining about it since before Windows existed.  It’s a rather common occurrence that some of the software your using will need to be updated to a new version to support a new OS.  So far, I’ve run into this with:

  • VMware Workstation – I was using version 5.x, and the latest is version 6.x.  Version 6.x or higher is required for full Vista support.  Did I absolutely need to upgrade this?  No, I could switch to using the free VMware Player – but I do like all the features of the full-blown workstation product, so I sprung for it.
  • Photoshop – I was using Photoshop CS, and according to Adobe, only Photoshop CS3 fully supports Vista.  Have I sprung for the upgrade yet?  No.  Why not?  Well, I’m using Lightroom most of the time, which handled the upgrade to Vista with no issues at all.  Will I need Photoshop at some point?  Yes – but I’ll just wait until I absolutely do, in case they come out with a new version before I end up upgrading.
  • Games – So this seems to be the biggest pain point.  Granted, I don’t play many games anymore – and my kids aren’t really of age to get into them much, either.  The ones I do play whenever the fates allow (simulations like SimCity and The Sims), appeared to have installed and run fine.  The one game I can’t get to work, but wish would, is Sid Meier’s Railroads! – It just doesn’t work.  My oldest son (3.5 years old) rather likes that one, so it was a bit of a disappointment for him not to have it anymore – but there’s plenty of playing outside he can do anyway.

Okay, so you may have to upgrade some software, and some old software that hasn’t been updated or is now out of development may just not be an option.  I understand that can be a headache to deal with – but again, I just don’t see it as a Vista problem.

Especially with all the good stuff that comes from Vista.  Sure, it’s flashy and pretty – but who cares about looks – what about functionality?  Honestly, there’s not much ‘new’ functionality and sure, you could get most of it through add-on software, but I have to admit it’s nice having the integration into the OS.  In my mind, here’s the two real winners:

  • Windows Media Center.  XP’s Media Center Edition was a novelty – it functioned, but was limited, and was a bit limited in it’s expandability.  The new media center is a big improvement.  So big, in fact, I can’t wait to ditch the DirecTV-integrated Tivo and go with a Vista-based home theater PC (whenever a DirecTV tuner for PCs ever materializes).  While it’s still not a cakewalk on expandability, it’s still better in that regard than the XP version, and the base functionality is much improved and easier to navigate and use.  I give it a B+
  • Complete PC Backup and Restore.  Yeah, ghost and many others can do this, but in the Ultimate edition of Vista, this feature is just smooth and well implemented.  I’ve used it with my HTPC and it was an absolute snap to restore the image back and be right back in business after a mistake (or installing a bunch of stuff you didn’t want), and keeping the image up to date is a breeze too.  I give this one an A

All the other new ‘features’ of Vista are either not a big deal, or available by downloading the latest versions on XP (Media Player 11, IE 7, Defender, Windows Live, etc.).

People also complain about the performance, but I haven’t experienced poor performance either on my laptop, or on my HTPC.  It may not be just as fast as XP, but it’s not a night and day difference if there is one.

Should you bother upgrading from XP?  Unless you’re into the Media Center side of it, I really don’t think it’s worth the money to upgrade.  Vista is flashy and pretty, but unless you’ve got to have one of the new features like the beefier Media Center experience, there’s no real improvement to your daily computer-using lifestyle.  Should you avoid getting a new PC that has it?  Heck no – and that’s back on point of what I’m just not understanding.  While Vista’s bells and whistles may not be needed by the masses, it certainly works just as reliably as I’ve found XP to work.  No reason to fear it, and no reason to throw insults at it that just aren’t true.

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