Windows Vista: 2nd Anniversary
It's hard to believe, but Windows Vista was publicly released two years ago this week.
Microsoft recently made Vista's successor, Windows 7 available as a beta version. From what I can tell so far, this new version is primarily an evolutionary step, which is actually a good thing from my perspective. With Windows Vista, there was essentially a six year gap between it and its predecessor, Windows XP. After that much time, Microsoft had little choice but to hype-up Vista. Unfortunately for them, Vista was also mostly evolutionary -- not so much revolutionary. Well, we all know how the Vista thing went. I expect that Microsoft is quite eager to move on past Vista and hope for a warm reception of Windows 7.
I believe that had Vista been released two or three years earlier, and possibly with even less enhancements, that it would have received a much better reception. It's unclear to me why the Vista release kept getting pushed back. I expect that feature creep was a big factor. I recall reading someplace that the Vista project got "reset" at some point -- that it's code base was originally forked from the XP code base, but due to over-complications regarding its various technologies, the project was reset to fork from the Windows 2003 Server code base. (Disclaimer: The prior statement may just be a rumor or misunderstanding on my part.)
Reflecting on my own experience with Vista, I do so wearing, at times, two different hats: my consumer hat, and my developer hat.
With my consumer hat: I started using Vista shortly after it was released. It was installed on a few of machines that I use. I have say that I actually liked it for the most part. I liked the user interface improvements and, in most ways, it seemed more user friendly than XP. The wireless networking support, in particular, is much improved with Vista. I also set up my wife's machine to use Vista. In her case it was also a bit of a test to see how someone who is less computer savvy than I am would take to the new OS. She's actually done quite well with it -- and her machine was initially far below the recommended hardware for Vista! From a consumer perspective, the biggest problems I've had with Vista are actually the third-party drivers -- HP drivers being the biggest culprit. I also understand that the biggest source of Vista crashes in the early days actually originated from nVidia drivers.
With my developer hat: There were a number of differences that we who are on the SongShow Plus development team had to and still do deal with. To a certain extend, that is to be expected. It's a big challenge for Microsoft to maintain the level of backward compatibility that it does. It shouldn't be expected that an application that is designed to work with one version of Windows, will continue to work without incident on all future versions of Windows indefinitely. There were a few things, however, that were problematic. Undocumented changes in certain APIs (one that we just recently discovered) were an issue. New DRM mechanisms created some compatibility issues. And there was a certain change made that affected access to files and registry settings for certain users that created a big problem -- a case in which Microsoft's attempt to make a situation better actually created a side affect that was even worse. Then finally, we also had some major headaches with one of the development machines on our office domain, which actually was most likely due to problems with the domain setup rather than Vista itself, but the XP machines did better coping with the problem. On a positive note, however, at Windows Vista Ultimate came with an MPEG-2 decoder.
The User Access Control (UAC) in Vista is one area that gets the most criticized. I found it a bit annoying and I know that we have a knowledge-base article or two that recommends disabling UAC for better compatibility with certain SongShow Plus features.
While we here at R-Technics will take opportunities to dis PowerPoint as a worship presentation tool, we're not an anti-Microsoft company. We do hope that Microsoft, with Windows 7, overcomes the big gripes with people have had with Vista -- and doesn't introduce new ones!