Windows Vista Thoughts

Windows Vista Thoughts

It seems as though Windows Vista Beta is on a bunch of folks Must Be Bashed Now list, but are we really missing the bigger picture? The biggest features of Vista have fallen off the radar and should not be ignored.

Introduction

I use Microsoft products daily and to put it in a very simple manner, Microsoft products allowed me to build HardOCP into what it is today. Now you can argue about what HardOCP has been built into, but I do know one thing and that is that HardOCP would not exist without Microsoft and their products. Their simplistic software made it easy for this “hardware guy” to publish on the Web. So while we like to use Microsoft as a punching bag sometimes, when they deserve it, I have the utmost respect for what the company has done over the years. They have empowered many, be sure of that. Surely though that does not leave them beyond reproach.

After yesterday’s Windows Vista = Suckage? news posting, I got more than a few angry emails and some elated ones. Now obviously there are some out there think that the great Microsoft should not ever even be questioned and there are those that would not give Microsoft any credit even when they absolutely deserve it. I like to think of myself as being somewhere in the middle.

Vista Feedback

One email from Timothy Bowser yesterday contained some interesting quotes that he had pulled from his colleagues. These are no-holds-barred snippets of thought from guys that are currently using Windows Vista Beta.

I work as level 2 tech support at the ISP in my email address. (address withheld) We have three instances of the Vista Beta 2 running for advance training, and from men, the opinions of Vista have been, and I quote:

"It's Windows XP with a push-up bra, lip gloss and PMS"

"Gaming card to run the desktop? What kind of crap is that?"

"This is XP Service Pack 3, right?"

All of this got me thinking, and then I remembered that our own Chris Morley was working on a Vista Preview with a hardware twist thrown into the mix. Now everything that Chris has told me about using the Windows Vista Beta has been glowing. So I thought I would pin him down on he past comments and asked him exactly what he thought about Vista, but making sure he was keeping in mind that he would have to pay out his hard earned dollars just like you guys will. Unless of course you are a thief.

Windows Vista is like a perfection of Windows XP. And I mean that as a testament to just how good Windows XP really is. The GUI refinements are welcome, and Vista Aero is simply gorgeous and much faster than GDI+; managing windows and programs is much easier with the task bar “preview,” but I’m still getting used to Flip3D. Certainly, Microsoft has had plenty of time to emulate some of the finer features of Apple OS X, but things like Gadgets are definitely welcome even if they mirror Widgets. It seems like the programs that are included in the Ultimate edition I have been working on all feel more “useful.” One simple case in point: I can burn DVDs with Windows Movie Maker. I like being able to fix red-eye from within “My Pictures.” It just seems like many of the things that I do now can be done a bit more intuitively or without 3rd party software directly from within Vista. I honestly feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

I have found that Vista works well on lower end hardware, but running the minimum recommended 512MB of RAM is really selling your experience short. One should absolutely be running 1GB, minimum. GeForce 6100 series integrated graphics have so far been more than adequate for powering the Aero interface, but expect Vista to gobble up all of the “up to 128MB of shared memory” that this integrated solution supports. The 64-bit version breathes new life into “older” Athlon 64 processors, as movie and audio encoding is 15-22% faster than the 32-bit version of Vista Beta 2. Pentium 4 architecture processors have not shown any gains in movie encoding when going from 32- to 64-bit, but they have shown an improvement in audio encoding.

If I were to build up a completely new 64-bit, DirectX 10 system when Vista comes out, I would absolutely purchase a license for Vista, even if there was a $50 to $100 price premium. If I were looking to replace the $140 OEM copy of Windows XP Pro I have on my current machine, I wouldn’t feel the pressing need to do it as soon as Vista comes out. Vista is great, and I’m enjoying my experience, but I wouldn’t consider it a necessity.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that there is no bottom line as this is still in beta, but there are some things we do know.

While currently Vista looks like nothing more than Windows XP SP3, you have to keep a couple of things in mind. Those two things are 64-bit computing and DX10. Some of Intel’s and many of AMD’s processors now support 64-bit computing. Keeping in mind that a 64-bit OS is almost useless without applications or games programmed to take advantage of the 64-bit computing advances, we should start to see those applications ramp up to utilize Vista advances once we have an OS to run them on. On the gaming side of things, the simple fact is that once DX10 based games start hitting the market, you are going to have to have Windows Vista to run them all easily. And DX10 looks to contain some very forward looking technology that will greatly enhance our gaming experiences once the game developers pick up and run with it.

Whether or not this new operating system really is Vista or just Windows XP SP3, there are some not-so-visible underlying talents Vista has that you will not likely want to be without, at least as soon as 64-bit and DX10 games and applications show up. The fact of the matter is that Vista's true value cannot be shown until there are games and applications to take advantage of 64-bit computing and DX10. So save your money till there are some real reasons to buy Vista. Then after that, if you still want to beat on it and call it SP3, more power to you, but calling Vista a turd now is like walking out on a movie that is only 20 minutes into the storyline. Conversely, saying it is the best thing ever is not justified either.

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