Commentary

The Wow starts...now?

  • by , February 12, 2007

This is the block title on the homepage for Windows Vista. The most prominent technology company in the world has this as the tagline of their flagship product? A lot of things make me go “wow”: The Rocky Mountains, The Statue of Liberty, Air show stunt pilots. However, I don’t think I have ever looked at my computer and said “Wow, that OS sure is amazing.” Then again, perhaps I’m misinterpreting this; maybe they mean “wow” as in “Wow, that Mercedes was just consumed in a massive ball of fire.”


I shouldn’t pick on Microsoft. Pretty much every company is guilty of churning out the same tripe. For instance “I’m Lovin’ It?” What the hell IS that? I’ll take a Double-quarter-pounder with a side of vague hyperbole. I understand why it’s being done. There is no immediate logical reason for me to purchase the product, so they must make me feel like I need it. But come on, folks. Has marketing really become this lazy? Or am I just so cynical and disaffected that it no longer holds any sway over me? This thought then leads me to think that I may be elitist (which is probably accurate), because I cannot understand how a vast majority of our nation’s population buy into this sort of crap. I suppose in that sense that I shouldn’t blame advertisers. There’s no need to raise the bar if the public is already stretching to reach it. If they had to actually jump, most probably wouldn’t bother. Obesity is not just a physical epidemic, it seems.


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No, advertisers are doing what they know to work. I suppose my question is this; is my immunity to nearly all forms of advertising a function of my level of education? Or is it more a matter of upbringing? Perhaps it is due to my membership in the so-called “Creative Class”. Or perhaps I’m just odd – I know many people who can confirm this. Whatever the reason, I am no more interested in purchasing Vista than I was a year ago, and I’m waiting for the day in the near future when my hand will be forced by a third-party software release. I’m not necessarily anti-Vista, but its primary selling points do not appeal to me.


It’s supposedly the most secure OS they’ve ever produced. This is of little consequence to me, because I have learned how to use a computer properly, and have very few security problems. A hint to people who have a lot of trouble with this; even if you feel that you need to increase both your length and girth, clicking banner ads is probably not the answer, and will only succeed in screwing up your computer. Perhaps the most insidious bits ad/spyware are those stupid search toolbars. I’m looking directly at you, Google and Yahoo. If you want this sort of thing built into your browser, check out Firefox add-ons. Something else that just bothers me a little bit is that they advertise the Home Edition Premium as being more secure than the basic version. Logically, this means that they are knowingly selling a less-secure system. I suppose this wouldn’t bother me so much, but which version do you think is going to be OEM on your new bargain desktop?


Then there’s the quick search. It sure is nice to be able to find things when you want them, and I would be lying if I said that I’ve never lost a file. However, I try to maintain a folder structure that allows me to find whatever I need without searching. I suppose the one place I would use this is when looking at my pictures, which at the moment are not catalogued in any really meaningful way. But then again, how often do I really look at them? And is saving a few seconds of search time every now and then worth a permanent sacrifice in resources that is certainly required to index every file?


Aero Glass is supposedly a pretty fancy interface. I do not want a fancier interface. I’m pretty pleased with the interface of XP. For me, nothing matters more than transparency. Anything that gets in the way of my use of the system – I don’t care how pretty it is – is an annoyance I can live without. Flip 3D lets you go through your windows in an isometric view. What was wrong with alt-tabbing? Same functionality without the resource drain.


One of the things I was interested in was the WinFS system. For the less nerdily-inclined, this was the next-generation file system proposed for Windows Longhorn (the original codename for Vista). It was a database system, allowing for complex relationships between files. If you’ve never worked with databases – even relatively simple web systems with MySQL, for instance – then it’s hard to imagine that this could be that big of a deal. I don’t know enough about it to explain it, but I know enough about databases to know that this could be extraordinarily cool. Unfortunately, it was axed to get Vista out the door. Perhaps we will see it in an upcoming release.


I’m sure Vista will be great for some people. It purportedly has enough new administrative tools and security upgrades to allow IT professionals to terrorize everyone in the office on a whole new level. For the basic user, who just wants a low-maintenance system for checking email, listening to music, and sorting photos, I’m sure it will be great. However, for me the most important criteria are – in order – stability, power, speed, and ease of use. I will probably get Vista in about a year, once the kinks are worked out.


Despite having written a short novella on Vista, I didn’t get a chance to talk about DRM or Trusted Computing, two of my primary concerns with the new OS. They deserve a post all their own. Perhaps next time…

1 comment about "The Wow starts...now?".
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  1. Josh, February 12, 2007 at 1:38 p.m.

    Yeah, the DRM and "Trusted Computing" aspects of Vista send a chill up my spine.

    Since you seem to be pretty focused on a low resource guzzling OS, you might want to check out a shell replacement for XP. Basically it's still Windows, but instead of explorer.exe running as a window manager, the other program takes over to display things.

    I'm using BBLean. Some of the themes are really nice, it has multiple desktops built into it, and is very low on memory management. Open source too. It's modeled after the good ol' *nix window manager BlackBox.

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