I remember Windows 95 on floppies and it was rubbish
I think Windows 95 came on about 17 of the little buggers (proprietary 2MB formatted so don’t think you’ll be backing any of them up).
Of course, I couldn’t wait to crowbar the thing on to my 486. As the “Start me up” advert with the Rolling Stones resonated in my memory, I was about to install the RTM version of Chicago!! The true power of my Multi-Media PC was about to spring to life! It was all going to be perfect because Mick said so!
Well, it made a grown man cry.
I swear Microsoft have never recovered from Windows 95. Although it offered the most advanced PC OS at the time for home users (save OS/2, but honestly, who cares about that?) it was always toppling over on its skinny little DOS legs. No matter what they ever do, no matter how innovative or dependable their software becomes, there will always be a standing joke that Microsoft = Crashing = Blue Screen Of Death = Rubbish Untested Software and the blame for this rests mostly on the shoulders of Windows 95. It was just too much, too soon and it folded. Frequently.
I think that’s a shame because I think a lot of great work has come out of Redmond these past 10 years, not least of which is Vista.
What most people don’t understand, of course, is the impossible job that Microsoft has to undertake in order for Windows to work at all. Let me put it this way: Imagine you have to create software that will work with an almost infinite combination of hardware (some of which isn’t even invented yet) and it also has to work with software that you didn’t write, you’ve never seen, or if you have, you certainly would never endorse, but that doesn’t matter. If any combination of this software/hardware hotchpotch doesn’t work, it’s your fault. I know you had nothing to do with it, but it’s still your fault. Welcome to Microsoft!
This misunderstanding of what responsibility an OS manufacturer generally has in a system crash, coupled with a general distrust of the increasing necessity of computers running Windows in everyday life, has let to a seemingly universal distrust and deriding of Microsoft. On to this bleak stage then, steps Windows Vista.
I remember Longhorn M4 and it was rubbish
There was nothing much that actually worked outside of your PC. Scanners were out, webcams were a non-starter and some sound cards were fine, providing you didn’t want Longhorn to actually load. Printers were mostly OK, apart from if they were all-in-ones (If you’ve got a scanner, you can’t come in). I once tried to install a PCI ADSL modem into a Longhorn machine. Can you guess how that went?
Of course, the haters had a field day again. Never mind that it was BETA software, it was Microsoft so it was fair game. To this day, I still have issues with certain tech journalists because of the way they treated Longhorn, reviewing it like a shrink-wrapped finished product with such finality in their words. It’s FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) from people who should know better. Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Vista had landed to a very luke-warm reception in the tech community and it was only going to get worse as it came to the attention of the average Joe and launch day approached.
You live in a Petri Dish and you suck.
Microsoft has always treated their customers like lab rats. If the NHS were run by Microsoft, we wouldn’t be looking to NICE to test drugs. Microsoft would release every drug on to the market and then release minor drugs later on to help combat the initial drug’s side effects.
In my opinion, it’s one of Microsoft’s biggest flaws and well… They just don’t seem to learn, do they?
The Public BETA of Vista was quite a noble proposition. The idea that anyone could download it, test it and provide feedback is a great idea. It makes for a great promotional tool and promises a vast and diverse test bed, leading to a theoretically more stable product and a ready-made consumer base of BETA testers waiting to get their hands on the finished product. The problem was that the BETA2 version of Vista which most people downloaded was a total dog.
I’d been fortunate enough to play around with earlier builds of Vista and of course, they were slow and not much worked.
Unfortunately, for many people at least, this was also the case with BETA2. It wasn’t all Microsoft’s fault of course. There was always going to be some nugget out there who downloaded it to his 1.8Ghz Celeron with 256mb of RAM expecting it to be usable, but I loaded it on some quite beefy systems and it was still horrible.
I think most people took a negative experience away from the Public BETA and I also think that like Windows 95, it was full of good ideas that didn’t actually work in real life. It was stoked with debugging code, had patchy device support and really needed 2 GB of RAM. Of course, it still needs at least 2 GB of RAM, but having that much already in your machine is a lot more common now than it was back then. While Windows users were puzzling over graphics drivers and trying to find cheap RAM on eBay, Apple was promoting their latest version of Mac OS X (“lemur” or “Stoat” or something) of which you could buy in a “deluxe version” that came wrapped in a computer which it worked with. Genius eh?
Big Mac or Fries?
When Vista finally shipped, it came in 5 main editions (Not counting the “n” or “starter” editions) which comprised of Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate. These editions are all made possible because of the componentised construction of Vista which again, is a good idea. What isn’t such a good idea is the way these components are portioned out between the different versions. If you want Media Centre and comprehensive backup, you have only one option. If you want BitLocker and EFS, again, unless you’re a volume licence holder, you have just the one same option, which is Vista Ultimate. Apparently, Microsoft was planning even more versions, but thankfully they never saw the light of day. Wasn’t it so much simpler with XP?
All the Vista ads flaunted the Aero interface, but many machines which went on sale came with Vista Basic which doesn’t include Aero. To further complicate matters, Microsoft had been trying to maintain hardware sales during the build-up to Vista with the “Vista Capable” logo on new PCs with XP installed. It only transpired later that “Vista Capable” meant the machine only had to be capable of running Vista Basic, not the flashy Premium version everyone wanted. What a mess.
This Island Apple
I remember Betamax. It was superior to VHS in many ways. As it turned out, that really didn’t matter in the format war. VHS was backed by most companies, was a little cheaper and was “good enough” for most of us. The fact that it was the best didn’t make Betamax the right format to back and the same is so true of the Mac.
Everything interesting always happens on the PC, because everyone interesting is almost always using one. The PC market is so overwhelming that innovators and developers will always focus their attention there. Of course, the truth is that there is now no compelling reason to choose one format over another. Except for … well … it’s Windows, isn’t it?
You know it will work with whatever you’ve got and anything you get will work with it. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but it works enough to be a general truism. This amazing claim can be made by no other OS. No amount of Steve-Noting, Vista-Bashing or clips of Ballmer on YouTube making an ass of himself will change any of this. I almost wish we did live in a Mac-world, but we do not. Sorry, Steve.
Lucky Number Seven?
Remember, as you may be frowning at or agreeing with my thoughts here, that all of this debate is pointless. It really doesn’t matter what bad press Vista gets, whatever the Apple Walkman Company pulls out of its arse because come hell or high water, sooner or later you (and everyone else) will be using it at some point in the future. If you have a Mac, you’ll use it at work, but for most of us, sure as death and taxes, your PC will get old and break, you will replace it and guess what; it will be replaced with Vista.
I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that although Vista is inevitable, it needn’t be viewed as some dark cloud coming to dominate us all. Indeed, Vista (on realistic hardware) should be embraced, because it’s better than XP in every way, and offers proven and valuable enhancements over it too. Of course it’s not perfect, but hopefully, as it evolves and is adopted as only Windows can be, I think it will be apparent that while not perfect, Vista is very, very good.
As I write this now, PDC 08 is disseminating its aftershocks around the internet, with the promise of Windows 7 being everything Vista promised in the first place. Well, still no WIN-FS, but UAC seems a bit more tolerable. The latest alpha build of Windows 7 is available on various file-sharing networks if you dare!
Vista was so long in the making, it had to be a let-down. With the reputation they have, Microsoft has to do two things. First, they release software which is new and everyone finds fault with. Second, they release a “new” or “patched” version which everyone ends up using. This happened with 98 Second Edition (even beyond Win 2000 for most people) and the “new OS disguised as a Service Pack” that was XP SP2. I suppose then, that Windows 7 is where most people will actually get the benefits of what us geeks have been enjoying for a couple of years now.
I suppose my point in all of this, is that in spite of what has been said in the technology and popular press, Vista is the most successful version of Windows ever. That doesn’t mean it’s any good, it just means it’s Windows. The good news is Windows happens to be the best home operating system there is.
I’ve been around PCs all my life and I’m an avid Windows enthusiast. I used to work in IT, but now simply enjoy it as a hobby; however I do still take an interest in the industry. I’m a compulsive tinkerer and have probably re-installed my machine more times than many normal people have switched theirs on. I’m a novice XBOX 360 gamer, mostly playing a mixture of driving and platform games, which I mostly suck at, possibly with the exception of Ridge Racer 6, which I simply don’t have the time to play enough of. I enjoy all things tech and am a big fan of Leo Laporte and his “TWIT” network. I have a soft spot for high-tech in small packages and still miss the MiniDisc, just because it was so damn cool. I’m also a bit of a retro/nostalgia junkie and still have 20-year-old copies of C+VG magazine which I thumb through from time to time. Outside of technology, I like scuba diving and playing the didgeridoo (no, not at the same time) and I run a didgeridoo club with my dad.