Windows Vista Gets a Bad Rap

From what I can tell, the general opinion of Windows Vista is that it sucks.  And to be honest, when I first tried Vista on my Dell laptop, I also thought it sucked.  It was slow, it crashed all the time, and I couldn’t see any compelling reason to upgrade my desktop system from XP.

But a couple months ago I bought a new desktop system that came pre-loaded with Vista, and much to my surprise, I like it.  I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the slightest bit revolutionary, but I still like it better than XP.

Of course, getting it pre-installed on a new system with Vista-compatible hardware is a big reason it’s more reliable for me than it was.  One of the things that hurt Vista out of the gate was poor driver support.  In particular, buggy graphics drivers destabilized the OS, leading many people (myself included) to revert back to XP.

Now that I’m running Vista on a decent system, I find it even more reliable than XP.  And now that I’ve had enough time to explore the “new” OS, I’m finding a lot of things I like.

So what’s my favorite Vista feature?  It makes my software look better (yeah, I’m vain).  The latest versions of FeedDemon look so much nicer on Vista than they do on the cartoony XP – especially the FeedDemon 2.8 Beta, which adds a number of Vista-specific UI improvements.  I cringe every time I have to test FeedDemon on XP because it looks crappy by comparison.

As an aside, I noticed a huge lack of developer interest in Vista, which certainly hurt it as much as buggy drivers did.  When Windows 95 was released all those years ago, developers couldn’t wait to come out with versions of their software that took advantage of all the features in the new OS.  But how many developers came out with Vista-specific versions of their products as soon as Vista was released?  Very few – and those that did often did so only to make their software play nice with Vista’s annoying UAC.  New Microsoft operating systems just aren’t as exciting to developers as they used to be.

OK, back to the point: while Vista deserves some of the criticism it receives, overall I think it gets a bad rap.  It should have been much better than it is, but it’s still an improvement over previous Windows releases.

15 thoughts on “Windows Vista Gets a Bad Rap

  1. I like vista also. What is interesting is that Vista supplied more than 20 000 diffrent driveres at release, more than any release of Windows. Now it`s more than 70 000. And UAC can be annoying, but for the basic user, it improves the security.
    Now it`s interesting to follow the development of W7, looks like MS will do alot of work to make W7 behave better. A polished version of Vista. Like XP was a polished version of W2000.

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  2. I agree. On a powerful machine Vista is pleasant to work with. But I admit I only really warmed up to it after I upgraded my machine to 6 GB RAM – since then my x64 version is very responsive and the various caching mechanisms work a lot better (cold starting Photoshop in 5 seconds is just great).
    My favourite features are the (OS X like) custom links in the explorer and the standard load/save windows (if only every software would use them, hear me Adobe!), the clickable address bar and of course the quicklaunch by using the Windows key and typing the first letters of the program’s name (btw, 2000/XP users can have this with “Launchy”).
    Still, I have an old 1.2 MHz Pentium M Notebook with 640 MB and after some (rather frustrating) Linux testing decided to install Windows 2000 on it – despite that it’s ugly I’m simply amazed how fast and responding the system is despite the outdated hardware.

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  3. I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon, positive or negative, bit I have to include myself in the Vista Hater camp. If you’re lucky enough that Vista works well with your software and hardware, then yes, it’s a much nicer experience than XP. However, here’s my weekend experience with a new home-built machine and Vista64 that led me to go back to XP:
    1) NVidia graphics driver installer crashed, so did the latest Firefox installer. I eventually discovered that every file I downloaded with IE was corrupted. I ended up downloading both installers on my Mac, copied them over on a USB memory stick, then they ran just fine.
    2) When I finally got the NVidia installer to run, first it told me I was running a 32-bit uninstaller on a 64-bit OS, then another error came up saying I wasn’t running a 64-bit OS. I spent a couple of hours jumping through hoops to get the latest driver installed because it’s required by some games I recently bought.
    3) BSOD when I went to MySpace in Firefox. (The final straw.)
    Many of these things are (arguably) not really Microsoft’s fault, but I don’t care. None of these problems, or any other problems of anywhere near this severity, show up in XP (or OS X, for that matter).

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  4. RE: Many of these things are (arguably) not really Microsoft’s fault, but I don’t care. None of these problems, or any other problems of anywhere near this severity, show up in XP (or OS X, for that matter).
    Talk about totally unfair to Microsoft. I could just as easily say “I tried to run OS X on my computer but it wouldn’t even boot! I’m an OS X hater!!!” (Note: my PC isn’t a Mac)
    Now, if your argument was that this was happening on a “Vista Certified” computer, and all the other “Vista Certified” computers out there exhibited this flaw… that would be a different story.
    I wonder how much of the differences between the original Vista release and Vista SP1 are really due to the massively improved drivers vs SP1 fixes. Remember that a lot of “under the hood” work went on in the Vista Driver stack that a lot of vendors had to work on. Many vendors tried to patch up their XP drivers and say they worked in Vista instead of doing it right (nVidia and Creative being some of the worst offenders here). I think that Vista was marred by all the driver problems more than anything else (not to say it didn’t have issues of it’s own, but no to the degree that people cried over).

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  5. My 2 cents (I will not go into a flame war)
    Does vista look good?
    Eventually if you like the default and only skin.
    I love the new Aero engine which use’s the Graphic card features, however giving me a single skin choice makes it hard to like it. I wonder why the Aero is tightly connected with the default skin? Why can’t the classic interface be drawn using the Aero Engine?
    Another thing is memory requirements, OK, a typical system nowadays has at least 3 Gbytes of ram, but was it really needed that solitaire need 50/100 MB of ram to run? why is that? Did they make the same sort of (weak) effort in the core? Aero uses 100 MB which is fine, but it seems Microsoft don’t care about applications RAM usage for a while now, I wonder why?
    And my least favorite rant, the Explorer. they really changed some things in folder windows that i don’t like, the automatic sort… Grrrr (new file in a folder on XP stays in the bottom if the folder is opened) in Vista is automatically sorted, OK some people might like.. but.. no option to set this. Other explorer annoyances like advanced search, slow file copy, constantly thinking that my projects folder are picture folders because I have a couple of bitmaps (apply to all folders does seem not to work) and other small things, but as a whole it really irritates me. Since 95 that I did not have a third party Explorer, I have one now on my Vista notebook.
    UAC is terribly implemented, but at least it can be switched off.
    Overall Vista seems too bloat. whoever with the default classic look it’s not that different from XP and better in some areas like wireless stuff, love the ability to set the sound volume specific per app and other small things.
    I would prefer a light windows route, I still love Windows 2000 for it’s simple looks and stability, and I’m Naive too with my applications look and feel, but in the end of the day productivity is my goal.

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  6. > Talk about totally unfair to Microsoft. I could just as easily say “I tried to run OS X on my computer but it wouldn’t even boot! I’m an OS X hater!!!” (Note: my PC isn’t a Mac) Now, if your argument was that this was happening on a “Vista Certified” computer, and all the other “Vista Certified” computers out there exhibited this flaw… that would be a different story.
    How is it unfair? Mac OS X doesn’t pretend to support the endless sea of PC parts that Vista does. Mac OS X is not *supposed* to run on my hardware. Vista allegedly supports every piece of hardware in my machine, and I was trying to install drivers that were certified by Microsoft. Why didn’t I have that much trouble with Windows 95, 98, 2000 or XP through endless varieties of hardware? Why do I suddenly have to go buy a retail, pre-packaged machine with the Vista seal of approval before I can expect the OS to work properly? I didn’t with any previous release. If that’s how they want to play, then fine – they should not be selling Vista separately, and they should say “Vista is ONLY supported as a pre-installed option on official Vista Certified machines”, but they don’t say that. They clearly would like everybody with XP to upgrade to Vista, but I’m sure my story is not unique.

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  7. I got lucky with the compatibility of my computer so I’ve been enjoying Vista since day 1, but in the end my computer proved too old to run it as well as games. I still have my box on the shelf for when I eventually upgrade, and we run it on all of the work PCs as well.
    It’s not perfect, and sometimes it takes a techie to make it play nice, but really all versions of windows have been like this. XP was just so successful that everyone has forgotten what life was like before SP1/SP2.
    And personally, I love the fact that UAC is so annoying. It doesn’t matter if everyone disables it. As Ars points out, it has forced developers to stop requiring admin rights, which makes running as a standard user possible, which is heading down the unix-ish path of virus protection through lack of permission to screw yourself over.

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  8. I have never had driver problems with Vista. My machine is not Vista certified or anything, it is just an black box Asus laptop and I install the drivers and have no problems. I am using 32bit though and suspect 64bit Vista has more problems. I am also running Vista virtual machines for development in VirtualBox and have no problems either.

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  9. @Andrew: I agree with you about UAC forcing developers to stop requiring admin priveleges, but I see the UAC dialog far less with third party software than I do when using Windows itself. That’s what I find so annoying about it!

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  10. There are certain features of WinVista that I like, but some of them took some time to get used to. There is one aspect about Vista which concerns me, namely, the amount of heat generated when performing even trivial operations such as file copy to USB, burning images, and using resource intensive programs such as Visual Studio 2k5/2k8 and MS SQL Server. Even with a cooling fan there are times when my system will either go into sleep mode or shut off. What system am I using? Well, it is not a desktop, rather a notebook:
    1) Lenovo Thinkpad T61p Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz
    2) 4GB RAM (Max amount allowed … and using WinVista x64)
    3) NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M
    4) 2015 MB Total available graphics memory
    5) 2 – Hitachi 7200 rpm HD
    I like the enhancements made to the Networking helper tools which make connecting to a home LAN/WAN a breeze. I like IIS7, the graphics, and a variety of other features, and I’ve grown accustomed to the quirks which still appear every now and then. There are some good Vista forums and much more help, obviously, from message boards with tweaks, and speed enhancements.
    I can see why some absolutely hate this OS too. Its fat, bulky, and sluggish feel (even after shutting off resource hogs) simply blows. There are too many dialogue boxes which are direct copies of WinXP, yet no longer tabbed, making the system appear to be thrown together. Have you ever been denied access when trying to move a file? I think this only occurs with UAC on, but why would I need to explicity set my Admin account’s security to have full access on the primary partition? Having a x64 OS is nice but too many applications are still 32-bit. The Windows on Windows (Wow64) is neat but yet another abstracted layer need for 32-bit apps to run (I know it is the nature of the beast, not Vista64), so I cannot tell if there is a performance gain using Vista64 vs Vista32 @ 3Gig of recognized RAM.
    I return to my main concern, the heat generated when running Windows Vista. It stresses out your hardware and you may wish to consider only using Vista on a high end desktop. Microsoft seems to be headed in the right direction, and I look forward to Windows 7, but do not think resource issues will be a top concern and the same advice will be given – upgrade your hardware…

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  11. I got Vista Home Premium preinstalled on my new computer myself think it is the best version of Windows yet; it looks extraordinary and works really well too. There are some great security features and everything is so easy to do. I would never go back to an older version of Windows now.

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