Vista Ain’t that Bad, In Fact It’s Good

by Hadley Stern Oct 04, 2006

I’ve used a few versions of Vista beta’s sporadically. Say what you want about Microsoft they give people a view into what they are working on, warts and all.

And there were a tremendous amount of warts in the early working versions of Vista. The OS literally sputtered at times, rendering the pointer invisible. Or, now and again the machine would just crash, emitting a monotonous tone before fading to black.

But RC1 is different. Very different. I used it for a full day. And use is the operative term here. It was fast, and the office beta was snappy to. IE 7 is very usable, stable, and reminded me of, surprise surprise, using firefox on OS X.

People have mocked (including me) Vista for ages. But RC1 is different. Sure it is still ugly as crap, marred by Microsofts apparent ineptitude with visual subteties and beauty that Apple excels at. But I suspect that most users won’t care.

Pre RC1 I always imagined that any user would be able to see so clearly the difference between Vista and OS X. I’m afraid those days are now gone. Just like most of the world couldn’t appreciate how the Mac operating system was better than Windows when it first came out most people are going to be oblivious to the differences between OS X and Windows.

I don’t pretend to understand the possible security issues with Vista and how it compares to OS X. I’m sure Apple comes out on top. But from a user experience standpoint, aesthetic differences notwithstanding, Vista and OS X look very similar. Of course Steve Jobs would say of course they do, that’s because they copied Apple. Well, after using RC1 I can say that they most certainly did. And they’ve done a pretty good job.

What this means for Apple is that the edge with OS X will disappear. And what is left? Better hardware? Perhaps. More software selection? Certainly not. The so-called advantages of a closed hardware/software platform? Most assuredly not as iTunes availability and success on the Windows platform shows.

All signs in the future point to the end of the importance of the operating system. Or, maybe it is time for Apple to start thinking about what needs to come next.


  • But more than five years development, for this?

    Quite. I am continually astounded at the miniscule amount that I could ever bring myself to care about that has been achieved going from XP to Vista. An operating system refresh which, I read, cost more than it took to put man on the moon.

    There is nothing in Vista that remotely makes me want to switch. The menu/dialogue rearrangements I find largely arbitrary and confusing. The graphics and graphical effects I find unhelpful and, after a moment of intense child-like pleasure, actualyl unsightly. This could just be the knowledge of the system requirements for such graphics making itself apparent. The architecture remains as convoluted as ever. When compared with the beautiful Core technologies in OS X, it makes me feel like crying and screaming.

    One thing that stuck in my mind from the Leopard preview at WWDC is the way the developers welcomed Bertrand Serlet, “Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering… responsible for leading Apple’s Software Engineering group”. . OS X has an architectural elegancy to be proud of, and which allows, for instance, GPU-based OpenGL rendering of the entire screen on hardware an order of magnitude less powerful than equivalent translucency and zoomy effecs will require on Vista.

    Wouldst that with their billions, Microsoft could come up with something that was one tenth as good.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 05, 2006 Posts: 927
  • *elegance.
    Elegancy should so be a word.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 05, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Here is an interesting assessment of the “OS is irrelevant” argument as viewed by someone who went cold turkey and spent a whole week using web apps only…;1642140878;pp;7;eid;-44

    sydneystephen had this to say on Oct 05, 2006 Posts: 124
  • I’m downloading Vista RC1 now for installation on my iMac under Parallels.  I look forward to seeing how it looks and operates, even though I’m using Windows less and less for my work.

    I find, not surprisingly, a few of the charges here a bit specious.  And I suspect, most of it is not from first-hand experience but rather more regurgitated talking points.

    I find Hadley’s comments to be fair and reasoned.  I hope my experience with this release matches his.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 06, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I will upgrade to vista.  That’s right… when I get my grimy hands on windows vista ultimate edition I will install it right away. and… ooooh….. It will be just perfect.

    The ability to interact with every surface as if it’s a three dimensional object. The effects, The snazziness,  the completely rewritten architecture.  Computing will be great.

    I also like the fact that all my games will work with windows vista right away.  It think that it is great that Apple has even given you guys the chance to Run windows on your limited, overpriced, Apple branded PC Hardware.  I think it’s great they are going to let you in on the most exciting thing in computing right now… besides using graphics cards as scientific calculators.


    Karl Oscar Weber had this to say on Oct 06, 2006 Posts: 18
  • the completely rewritten architecture

    I wonder what OS KOW is talking about?

    Robinhood had this to say on Oct 08, 2006 Posts: 9
  • I think people ought to read this article.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 12, 2006 Posts: 927
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