Windows Vista: Problems and Advice for Microsoft

closeThis post was published 10 years 8 months 7 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

I’ve been sitting on this post idea for a while, since about the beginning of last month, if not a few days before that. In that time I’ve tried to come up with some good answers to the question Chris Pirillo posed at the end of his “Windows Vista’s Rants” video (it starts around 16:30 into the clip). Here are my thoughts on Vista (rather than that video) and, if I’m lucky, a few good ideas that Microsoft would do well to take to heart.

The Complaints

Don’t take this post the wrong way; I haven’t forgiven Vista in the least for any of its annoyances. I still think the UI design is atrocious hideous (changed on 05/13; more accurately describes my reaction); I still dislike the idea of the UAC dialogs; I still wonder why Microsoft builds everything but the kitchen sink into the operating system. (I can’t actually fault them for that; Firefox includes a kitchen sink. 😉

There is no reason for me, personally, to upgrade my existing operating system. I’m comfortable with the way it works, I know what problems can arise, and all the hardware I’ve ever seen works perfectly in XP. What’s more, some of the programs I use don’t work under Vista, which means hunting down replacements.

Aside from software issues, Vista’s interface is just plain ugly. Nobody I’ve talked to about the system, from friends to robotics club members to even my dad (my mom couldn’t care less about computers, unfortunately, and my grandmother uses OS X now) has anything good to say about it. All the time Microsoft spent designing the glitzy (and ugly, again) Aero interface could have been spent working on other things like WinFS that were dropped so the new OS could be shipped less than three years late. I prefer the XP look to anything else I’ve seen (the Mac design could work, if the buttons were moved to the right). There’s no option to go back to it in Vista that I know of.

Note that I haven’t even mentioned the countless hardware compatibility issues.

But as Chris Pirillo said, we know it sucks. There’s no need for any more bashing. I officially declare this post’s bash section finished. From here, it’s suggestions and thoughts on how to improve the situation.

The Ideas

So what can Microsoft (or OEMs, or both) do to help consumers through Vista until Windows 7 (hopefully much-improved over the current new version!) is released? The options are quite likely endless, and I only came up with a few; but that’s the power of the crowd. The more people who answer this question, the better.

Option one is to simply keep selling Windows XP until a decent replacement is available. Microsoft obviously doesn’t want to do that because of the hassle of maintaining two mountains of code. People have already adopted Vista in some measure, so yanking it wouldn’t free Microsoft from having to provide updates.

Option two is to offer the option, as part of a Vista installation, to downgrade the system for free. Again this would mean maintaining XP alongside Vista, but if Microsoft wants to keep its customers happy, they have to adhere to the age-old business doctrine: “The customer is always right.”

Option three involves updating Vista as much as possible, improving compatibility with old software and adding options to make the interface more like XP. I have at least some confidence that the hardware issues will gradually fade away as time goes on, since peripheral device developers are continuing to upgrade their drivers.

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas, brainstormed in the space of a couple dozen minutes while I was pondering what to write this morning. I have by no means come up with everything possible, or even anything useful (that’s the risk you run by reading a personal blog ;-). My ideas are based upon my specific feelings regarding Vista, and might not satisfy anyone else. Obviously I hope that Microsoft will read them and use them, but I have doubts about that happening. Microsoft’s response to feedback lately has been less than passionate.

I think there is hope for Vista yet, if Microsoft makes the right choices. Sitting back and letting the new operating system take hold in the marketplace by itself obviously isn’t converting very many people. By pro-actively responding to user complaints and implementing fixes for common hardware and software issues, Microsoft could convince people to move to the new version of Windows.

This is my last year at my current school, and I will be needing to send back my laptop after graduation in June. I’m considering purchasing a laptop of my own, one that doesn’t have any restrictions as to what I can do with it, for use over the next few years, but I refuse to buy anything pre-loaded with that Vista crapware (pardon my French). It’s either XP or Linux with Wine and/or mono to run my Windows programs. That is, unless Microsoft makes some serious improvements to Windows Vista very, very soon.

So do you have any ideas that I didn’t come up with? (Improvements to mine are welcome, too. 🙂 Share your feelings in the comments; I always love to hear my readers’ reactions!

dgw

I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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