for Microsoft to celebrate on Vista’s first birthday
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
February 26-March 3, 2008; issue 957
High Tech Office column
Windows Vista turned one year old January 30. Like any
Microsoft wants to celebrate. With Vista pre-installed on the bulk of
PCs sold to home users, Microsoft can boast of over 100 million
licences worldwide and note that Vista has sold more copies than
Windows XP did at its one-year mark.
And on February 4, Microsoft released Vista Service
Pack 1 to
manufacturing, promising to make this massive update roll-up available
to the general public in mid-March. Traditionally, many large
organizations take Microsoft releases more seriously after release of
the first service pack.
Business uptake of Vista has been exceptionally slow.
So slow that
Microsoft can point to only a handful of Vista adopters – noting
“businesses already using Windows Vista include PCL in Alberta, the
Toronto District School Board in Ontario and A. C. Dispensing in Nova
Scotia.” Asked for someone more familiar to Business in Vancouver
readers, their local “poster child” was the City of Langford. (Langford
is a 22,000-resident municipality on southern Vancouver Island.)
While SP1 is not generally available, some copies have
made it out
to reviewers. (I didn’t get one, though I’m running a pre-release SP1
version without problem.) Microsoft’s last big service pack release, XP
SP2, offered a number of new features. Most notably a security centre
putting firewall, antivirus and update controls all in one place. Vista
SP1, while combining the various Vista security updates into one
installation offers fewer immediately noticeable changes.
In response to a complaint by Google to the U.S.
Justice, Vista SP1 lets users disable Microsoft’s built-in search
feature, replacing it with the Google Desktop search or other
alternatives. SP1 users will find it both faster and slower than the
original Vista. Over time, Vista optimizes itself for each user’s
system. Installing SP1 wipes out the optimization data, putting the
user back to Square 1. However, SP1 promises faster file copying and
unzipping and improvements in network access speed.
The biggest problem for Vista, in my opinion, is that
failed to convince users that there’s much of a Wow! to it. I first
installed a version of Vista with a pre-release test version about six
months prior to its official release, and I’ve been working with its
various updates regularly ever since. On new hardware with enough RAM
and a good enough video card it’s fine. (No, I don’t like the frequency
of some of the nags when I’m downloading software and at other times.)
And there are some nice add-ins; I prefer Vista’s Movie Maker and DVD
Maker to Apple’s iMovie and iDVD, for instance.
But there’s no killer feature – nothing that I can
recommend to readers of this column as something that they need to
Prior to Vista’s release, there was talk about
building on Vista’s improved graphics; a free New York Times reader
application was demoed. A year later, I haven’t heard of any software
promising gee-whiz features for Vista-only.
Instead, there’s talk in the grapevine about something
Windows 7. Microsoft is keeping mum, but you can find screenshots,
feature lists and more online.
The rumours make Windows 7 seem like a sort of
anti-Vista; lean and
mean, with a scaled-down feature set that won’t take Microsoft four to
six years to bring to fruition. ZDNet Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley
considers a 2009 release “a realistic possibility.”
That leaves enterprise buyers in a quandary. Microsoft
off sales of XP at the end of June, removing that as an option.
So go with Vista (presumably SP1) now or wait for
with unannounced features at some unspecified future date. •