Musings: Windows Vista

This is a supplementary page, for the post Working with Windows Vista -- Make it fly! (July 29, 2008).

The original post presented an article that was written by a Musings reader; replies followed. The entire thread is consolidated on this page.

Original post. Here is an article about Windows Vista, written by a Musings reader.

It is from Borislav Dopudja. Borislav is a biology student at the University of Zagreb. He is also a budding restaurateur, and he works as a computer systems administrator.

He wrote this article, about dealing with Vista, based on his own experiences.

All the while, I was teasing him about even using Vista. Since I had never used it -- or even seen it -- I was free to comment on it based on rumors I had heard, without having to take any responsibility for my comments. He, on the other hand, actually dealt with the real thing, and faced and solved problems.

The article is at: Make your Windows Vista FLY! [pdf file; link opens in new window].

Many readers are experienced computer people, and may have your own suggestions. Others may have questions or complaints. Let me know.

(Why is a biology student working in a computer job? Don't know. Perhaps the common thread is that he likes working with mice. Implications for his restaurant?)

Replies and comments

Comment 1. The person who wrote it is a comp sci student, and an experienced computer user. I heartily endorse his general philosophy.

Of course, nothing here diminishes what Borislav wrote -- to deal with the problem once it is there.

In the end, I find all this to be useless.

Useless in the sense that if you want to make your system faster, you have to disable lots of things. Most people would not care to do this after their first attempt. Why? the list is too long, and when they reformat their system, they have to do this all over again. I find that distasteful.

For me, the meaning of an "Operating System" is so that it allows me to perform different applications to complete my goal. Whether that may be doing homework, running a database, or just surfing the internet. An OS is the support software for other applications, not the main application.

It's funny that these days, we're blinded into buying something that only put half of its power to the applications we need. Let say someone buys a PC with 5GHz, 4GB RAM, blah blah blah..., half of that CPU power is towards Vista, which requires a significant amount of RAM and video memory to just run the OS and the fancy 3D and transparent affects. Excluding other "necessary" apps like anti virus/trojan/ spyware/etc which hogs resources every moment you're using your system.

I say... Stick with XP or OS X, simple and efficient.

Maybe I've been using computers for a while now and I'm not being "opened" about new concept... or maybe I don't like the idea of paying thousands of dollars for my rig and only getting half of it.

I'm actually using Windows Vista on my Mac and I hate it.

Enough with the hate letters (towards Microsoft), I'd say give it time, maybe it'll be just like XP. XP was almost like Vista, people didn't like it because it took a lot of resources, especially for it's time. But people quickly accepted it. Doesn't look like it's soon enough for Vista. Maybe make the hardware better and faster?

P.S.: Windows Vista = Windows ME.

Reply to Comment 1. Borislav replied to comment 1 (above), and accepted its main thesis. I think we all agree that there are two levels of this issue. One is how to use the software, and the other is how it should have been designed in the first place.

Here is a condensed version of his reply:

I actually pretty much agree with this reply, as I also get frustrated a lot with Vista.

However, although Vita have some serious bugs, I have made it work really fast. And it is also much more stable than XP. personally - I like the features that make me work faster, especially those graphics related.

There is one more point - I have to know how to make Vista work, as I can't allow myself "I don't know" to a client when he has some problems with the Vista OS.

Apart from that - I find it prettier and more stable than XP, although problems in Vista are usually of heavy-weight nature.

And when there will be a new MS OS I will also have to install and use it, because of the many people who depend on me for support. - I get frustrated with that, but I also enjoy in solving problems in a way.

Though it would be much nicer if things would just work.

Reply 2. Here is a comment on Borislav's article, from a young PhD engineer. The initial version raised a question about the computers used for comparison, and the author supplied additional info. It's clear that the comparison referred to is not "fair" -- but it does reflect how most of us use computers.

Ok, so I might be the only one out there. I actually like Vista, especially Vista SP1. I think it's fast (I use it on my Dell laptop and quite powerful desktop). I'd see a definite improvement in my laptop's performance. I have quite a nice comparison. At work, I've a laptop (the same processor that my desktop has, and I know it's not a fair comparison) that uses XP. To be honest, I'd never like to go back to XP.

My desktop boots up in 30-45 seconds, even though I've quite a few startup programs. It uses my dual core very well and it has DirectX 10 (in case there're any graphics enthusiasts).

I also wish that people would finally get off Microsoft's case. I think it's disgusting that MS is constantly sued for trying to integrate tools that an average user might want to have, such as Explorer and Media Player. How about we jump to Apple. It does have Safari and iTunes installed as well. To make it more limiting, all Apple's software/products are using iTunes and it's the only way to communicate with the device. iPhone, you need to have iTunes to upload a new ringtone (that costs you $1 even it's free in all other cell phones). The same with iPhone's graphics, software etc. iTunes to upload music to iPods. Isn't it weird that Apple products don't usually have an expansion memory slot (or maybe they don't have it at all, I'm not sure)? That would be a potential way to go around iTunes. Also, I find it distasteful when it comes to Apple's price. You usually can't modify those systems and it almost seems that you pay more of a "rental fee" when you purchase their products, cuz you never know when they gonna hit you with some update that will lock your device. Ok, just went to a MacStore. $2200 for the cheapest desktop and $1,100 for the cheapest iMac (in which BTW you have to use MAC monitor cuz it's the only way). It's quite funny, that $1.1k iMac is almost the same config that my desktop (except graphics and I've twice the RAM) for which I paid $750... almost 1.5 years ago.

Well, Vista, XP and other products of that type are aimed at everyday user. From a gamer to non-professional office. There's always Linux for the rest of the folks. Oh yeah, and there's MAC... for those who really need to have a white computer.

And then some elaboration from the same person...

Ok, so the memory is not the same. My laptop at work (XP) has 1GB @800 MHz and my desktop at home (Vista) has 2 GB @800 MHz. It is a really unfair competition, I know, desktops have faster hard drives as well.

The point I was trying to make is that people compare Vista to MAC. Vista as being slow and sluggish and MAC being ultra fast. If I get $2k+ to assemble a desktop computer (the price of a MAC desktop), Vista will be flying. The problem is that people spend $400 for a PC at Walmart with Vista and then expect it to run fast and compare it to a $2k MAC.

I think Vista deals better, than XP, with computer resources. Yes, it requires a lot of resources to run, but once it's running adding additional software does not put that much extra effort. I always multitask (I prefer this name from ADD ;-) ), and I've sometimes 5+ software running and 10+ IE/Firefox windows open. My laptop at work trips sometimes and I can see that it uses both cores as one CPU. Vista seems to be more dynamic at moving resources and loads around.

My XP at work also trips whenever I take my USB out without safe remove and I can't figure it out.

My comment. Both Microsoft-bashing and Apple-bashing are well-recognized sports. (Maybe even in the Olympics this year?) I'll leave the general part of that. However, as to MS and their integrating/bundling... It's not simply that they "bundle" -- provide extras, but that they do so in a way that is clearly designed to stifle competition. MS builds things with parts that are so intricately intertwined that it is hard to try alternative modules. Surely, as an engineer you would agree that small modules are more robust. The Windows registry (which has just come up in another discussion) is an example. Given its key role, individual programs should not be allowed to write to it. They should write to "local" files (eg, the classic INI files), and then a registry program can build from those to establish the needed interconnections. But as it is, the registry is both critical and non-robust -- a deadly combination. I've probably shown my ignorance of how it works -- and certainly I simplified, but the point remains. MS core functions are not easily accessible to the competition, and that is a negative that the law should worry about.

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