has ironed out most of Vista’s wrinkles
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
September 16-22, 2008; issue 986
High Tech Office column;
Every few days somebody
contacts me wanting my opinion: they’re getting a new computer but have
heard that Windows Vista isn’t any good. News such as the June report
that CPU-maker Intel planned to continue installing XP on new corporate
systems adds to the poor word on the street about Vista.
While it’s fun (and sometimes too easy) to take shots at Microsoft,
Vista isn’t as bad as all that.
and other large organizations have been slow to warm to the now
18-month-old Vista. But large organizations are always slow to make
these sorts of changes. Back in January 2002, for instance, Intel
reported that it wouldn’t be moving to Windows XP anytime soon. It was
still busy rolling out Windows 2000. At the end of 2002, large
businesses were predominantly running old-style Windows 95, 98 and NT4.
It took four years for XP to account for half of Windows installations.
been using Vista for about two years now, having started out with a
series of pre-release versions. Some things still annoy me: Vista’s
user account control slows me down when I’m trying to move, rename or
delete unwanted desktop icons. (But leave UAC enabled; it helps prevent
stealth software installations.)
And I remain puzzled by Vista’s
renaming of long-time standard features and hiding the option to shut
down the system. But then, I’ve found things to complain about in every
version of Windows. (If only they’d asked my opinion. …)
There’s a lot I like, though.
For instance, I prefer Vista’s combo of Windows Movie and DVD Maker to
Apple’s iMovie and iDVD.
it was first released, Vista gained a reputation for being slow. Some
of it came from UAC demanding permission too often. Some came from
users installing Vista onto previous generation computers that weren’t
really ready for the upgrade. Much of it, though, came from hardware
drivers. Despite Vista’s long gestation, manufacturers were slow to
develop the drivers needed to allow Vista to work well with their
printers, scanners, video, sound or network cards.
included generic drivers that usually worked, but were not optimized
for performance or to make use of the hardware’s special features.
a year and a half after Vista’s release, things are much better. While
it’s a gamble to install Vista onto older hardware, pretty much any new
system is really Vista-capable, and pretty much any current-generation
computer add-on comes with Vista drivers. Recently, I spent time with a
couple of ultra-light PCs. Both came with Vista pre-installed. I was
pleasantly surprised with Vista’s performance on both low-powered
If you have Vista installed, check in at your
manufacturer’s website to ensure that you have the latest drivers
installed. They can make a big difference.
Some applications –
antivirus and other security software, Intuit’s financial programs and
Roxio’s CD/DVD burning software among others – required updating to
work with Vista. Most of the standard set of Windows software runs
fine, however. While Microsoft really would like you to get its latest
version of Office, older versions work with it just fine.
custom-made applications used by many businesses can be more of an
issue, however. Some of these may not run properly on Vista without
reworking. This is part of the reason large enterprises do extensive
testing before starting the move to any new operating system. Many
organizations routinely wait for the first service pack before
installing any new version. Microsoft released Vista SP1 this spring.
is already at work on a Vista successor. Though few details have been
released on the so-called Windows 7, the company is reportedly hoping
to release it in late 2009. But don’t avoid Vista hoping for this next
version; apparently it’s being based on Vista.
touting Vista more assertively with a new online Vista Compatibility
Center and a Vista Small Business Assurance program. It may even start
to respond to Apple’s Mac versus PC TV ads. •