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Elmlane

Fred's Views


Life with Vista

I've just been rereading my last Vista article (boy, I sure didn't put it through the spell check, did I? - I have now). My experience of and feelings for Vista have not changed. However, I'm managing to get my work done even given Vista's many shortcomings and the many problems which plague at least my currently installed version. Little by little, I'm getting used to Vista's inferior way of doing things. I don't like it, but I live with it.

One thing that I don't believe I've mention here is that I set up a dual boot system and installed Linux on a second hard drive. I'm no Linux expert, but I have been able to use it fairly successfully. The installation itself was easy and straightforward. One confusing aspect is that Linux comes in many different "flavors". I installed the Ubuntu version. Most versions come with a graphical user interface which mimics the better features of Windows and, for that matter, Mac OSX. It also comes with a "library" of programs that can be installed. All of the major work-horses are here: Open Office (replacing Microsoft Office's most used applications), Thunderbird and another e-mail program, Firefox and so on.

There are many (usually simpler) games and other applications as well. Installing any program in the library is a piece of cake. What isn't, however, is trying to install a program that is not in the library. I haven't managed that yet, which is largely the reason why I am still working in Windows. To install such a program (as well as do many other maintenance or configuration settings) in Linux, you must use a command shell (what used to be known as a DOS prompt). I hate command shells. I haven't used one (except for a few brief moments) in more than twenty years. I never want to use one again. So, for this reason alone, I call Linux the "not quite ready for prime time OS".

I should point out that my sound system works fine under Linux but still doesn't work in Vista. The Battle for Wesnoth (a great freebie game) crashes under certain conditions in Vista, but never in Linux. When and if Linux will allow me to bypass the command line, I will seriously, seriously consider it as my primary (or only) OS. There are, of course, some programs or types of applications that do not as yet have a suitable alternative in Linux. Most notably are programs with a limited market, but other programs, such as graphics or photo manipulation programs are not that well represented. (There's GIMP, a fairly powerful graphics program, but I find it difficult to use.) Still, if you want to avoid Vista, Linux is worth consideration, particularly if using Office, Internet and e-mail apps (as well as playing Freecell) are your primary (or only) tasks.

Microsoft has apparently released Beta versions of Windows 7. (I haven't seen one yet.) That means that Microsoft may be on track for a full release sometime next year (2009). I was reading one article which questioned the commonly held belief that Vista is still full of bugs. They stated that, like XP, Vista did have a number of problems upon release, but that these problems have been largely if not totally remedied by now. My immediate thought was that this is a pattern that can be traced back to Windows98 and Windows95. And let's not forget that Windows was a commercially available but largely unusable program for several years before it finally became viable around 1992. My question is "why?" Why would Microsoft knowingly release an operating system that was still bug-ridden and still did not have drivers for many peripherals? Why rush an unready product to market? As consumers we may be quick to forget and forgiving, but there is a limit. Maybe, with Vista, we have reached the limit. If I controlled Microsoft, I would make darn certain that the next version of Windows was fully functional before it was released. It wouldn't be free of bugs, no program of any significant size is, but the bugs would be few and far between. Unfortunately, since Windows 7 is being rushed in to stop the hemorrhaging caused by Vista and those devastating and highly accurate "I'm a Mac" commercials, it is extremely likely that Windows 7 will be just as flawed as every other new Microsoft OS release. And while that'll be good news for Mac and Linux fans, it will be more of the same crap for us "I'm a PC" users.

And, oh yes, if I were in charge of Microsoft, Windows 7 would come in one variety with the option to install or uninstall features as needed and it would be free. Just a way to say "I'm sorry" for all the price gouging on inferior products that Microsoft has subjected us to. (Future versions would be sold at a reasonable upgrade price - under $100 and installable on at least three machines.)

Microsoft's Vista still has its supporters: apparently, if you install the "Ultimate" version on a top of the line computer, Vista works just great - although I can't see how power users (who presumably would be the ones to install "Ultimate" and afford high end machines) would be happy with the many unproductive changes Vista has introduced.

Finally, if I controlled Microsoft, I'd make sure that the advertising for the new version would clearly indicate what improvements have been made to the OS. I still haven't a clue why anyone would bother to upgrade to Vista. I don't own any gadgets that wouldn't work just great on XP, but I might own a couple that won't work on Vista. And as I've indicated previously, setting up a network is far easier on XP than on Vista - and the network works much, much faster!

While it's possible to live (and work) with Vista, it's far from being the computer experience one would hope for.


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