Monday, March 30, 2009

Vista no more, and I don't miss it

A couple of weeks ago, my PC died. Not the PC itself, actually, just the operating system Windows Vista, which stopped booting up. After a lot of internet research and a lot of trying this and that, I gave up and wiped the hard disk for a fresh install.

I did not, however, install Vista again; I went back to XP. Because I have hated Vista since I "upgraded" to it. The terrible security system that wouldn't let you do the simplest things without asking you if you were sure, and wouldn't let you do some things at all (there were certain folders and files on my computer for the entire time I had Vista simply because it wouldn't let me delete them. The software incompatibility that included Microsoft's own products. The ass-backwards way they tried to improve Windows for gaming and made it worse instead. I had meant to write a whole blog entry about the ways in which Vista sucked, but never got around to it. It is shocking that Microsft would issue what is at best a poorly designed service pack as a new OS, although more understandable if you read this interesting description of how the Vista shut down interface was designed (read the comments too; some are from other Microsoft programmers).

I didn't instantly go back to XP simply because it seemed like too much work. And I thought I would miss the handful of new, minor but useful features of Vista. But I was wrong, I don't miss Vista. Forget those commercials in which Microsoft tried to convince the world that Vista was a good product with bad buzz; Vista had nothing that counterbalanced all its aggravations.

Sure, the folder search on the fly was handy, and the checkboxes that could be used to select files were rather clever. But that's about it. I liked the new start menu, but I discovered that the best thing about it, the ability to type in a program name to find it, can be more-or-less replicated in XP with a freeware program called Launchy that actually works better than Vista's version of the same idea.

Microsoft should never have released Vista, which is the most disastrous OS update since Windows ME. And once they realized it was a disaster, they should have spent time trying to fix its serious flaws with a series of service packs rather than devoting all their energy on their next OS. Microsoft has pissed a lot of people off and made as convincing a case as anyone can that there is no reason to upgrade, ever. XP works fine, there still seem to be drivers for everything and if we just all agree to stop buying new Microsoft OSes then we can all just keep using XP until some Linux programmer comes up with a satisfactory solution for playing games on PCs.

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