Walter Mossberg’s Secret Windows Vista Review! ;)

I read Walter Mossberg’s review of Ubuntu, “Linux’s Free System Is Now Easier to Use, But Not for Everyone” and was getting a little annoyed by the fact that he wasn’t explaining why some of the things in Ubuntu are the way they are (in the case of MP3s which don’t play out-of-the-box because of stupid software patents and video DVDs likely due to DMCA concerns; lack of default support is likely to remain that way too) and thus to his target audience of “mainstream, nontechie users of digital technology”, Desktop Linux might seem like a jalopy not worth riding when in fact its pretty damn good and just needs a few add-ons to make it work with proprietary stuff.

But then I had a bit of an epiphany… He wasn’t just doing a quick check-in on the state of Ubuntu; the basic gist I got out of it is that the only real OS worth buying (remember, Ubuntu is cost-free) is Mac OS X, which to be fair is a much better OS than Vista O:)

So with just a little bit of tweaking, we have Walter Mossberg’s secret Windows Vista Review! ;)

Microsoft’s System Is Now Easier to Use, But Not for Everyone

September 13, 2007
by not Walter S. Mossberg ;)

This column is written for mainstream, nontechie users of digital technology. These folks aren’t necessarily novices, and they aren’t afraid of computers. They also aren’t stupid. They simply want their digital products to operate as promised, with as little maintenance and hassle as possible.

So, I have steered away from recommending Windows Vista, the computer operating system that is the darling of many techies and IT managers, and a challenger to Apple’s Macintosh operating system, OS X.

My interest increased when Dell began to sell a few computer models preloaded with Vista instead of XP.

I’ve been testing one of those Dell Vista computers, a laptop called the Inspiron 1420. I evaluated it strictly from the point of view of an average user, someone who wouldn’t want to enter text commands, hunt the Web for drivers and enabling software, or learn a whole new user interface. I focused on Vista and the software programs that come bundled with it, not on the hardware, which is a pretty typical Dell laptop.

My verdict: Even in the relatively slick Ultimate variation, Windows is still too rough around the edges for the vast majority of computer users. While Vista looks a lot like Mac OS X, it is full of little complications and hassles that will quickly frustrate most people who just want to use their computers, not maintain or tweak them.

Before every passionate Windows fan attacks that conclusion, let me note that even the Dell folks agree with it. They aren’t going to roll-out Vista on their internal systems until (at least) SP1 is released.

So, what do I mean when I say Vista is too rough around the edges for average users? Here are some examples.

When I tried to play common audio and video files, such as MOV videos, I was told I had to first download special files called codecs that are built into Mac computers.

To get the computer to recognize my iPod, I had to reboot it several times. When it did find the iPod, it wasn’t able to synchronize with it. Playing videos was a bad experience, with lots of flickering and freezing.

Unlike the Mac, Windows computers are soon crawling with viruses and spyware and don’t use the excellent Safari Web browser by default.

Plenty of people reading this have had lots of frustrations with Windows, whose latest iteration, Vista, is disappointing in many ways.

Dell and Microsoft tell me there are complex workarounds for some of the problems I encountered, and that built-in improvements are planned for others. But for now, I still advise mainstream, nontechnical users to avoid Windows.


Update 9/26: I had an xvid-encoded AVI file that my wife wanted a copy of; I put it on her shiny Mac and… oops; it needs a codec! ;)  Also, it seems that Windows XP as well as Vista Home Basic, Business and Enterprise lack out-of-the-box DVD support.  Double oops Mr. Mossberg!


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