My colleague Ashton Mills published the top 10 reasons you shouldn’t get Vista this morning.
I see his point on some fronts — admittedly Microsoft’s official publicity material hasn’t done a great job of explaining the basic benefits of Vista.
Microsoft’s talk of Vista’s ‘richer experience’ and ‘getting ready for a new day’ just makes the hardened tech user roll their eyes and move on.
However I’ve been running Vista at APC since the earliest leaked builds and witnessed its extraordinary evolution as Microsoft meandered its way towards the final product.
Sure the earlier versions included some bold features which were dropped for the sake of familiarity in the final version but there’s still lots to appreciate about the “RTM” version of Vista.
I’m not talking here about a nicer user interface or security – I figure APC readers already know how to run a secure XP box and how to de-Fisher-Price it.
Here are the real benefits: things that will actually make a difference to you day-to-day.
1. UI built for the era of video and digital photography
It’s not actually Microsoft’s key selling point but the thing that everyone will probably find the most useful about Vista is that photos videos and music are not treated the same as Word documents any more. When you open a folder of photos they come up as they’d appear in Google Picasa or Apple iPhoto. There’s inbuilt basic photo editing. Music folders come up in columns of ID3 tags a bit like iTunes. Finally you don’t have to rely so much on third party apps to work with your files.
2. Image-based install
PC enthusiasts spend a lot of time installing and reinstalling Windows for their own and other people’s PCs. The Vista DVD is actually a pre-installed version of the OS in a compressed form making it substantially quicker to install. It’s also much easier to customise for unprompted installation with the correct defaults and you can even install your own software automatically at the time Vista is installed – like slipstreaming service packs but on steroids. Read more…
3. Up-to-date driver base and better driver handling on installation
Enjoy the just-baked driverbase while it lasts (19500 drivers large). If you do need to use a special disk driver during installation in the future it won’t have to be on floppy disk. Now you can use a USB memory key or CD. Also Microsoft is now making much greater use of Windows Update for provision of drivers that aren’t present in the Windows RTM driver base. Windows Chief Jim Allchin talks about it here.
4. Desktop search and search folders built in
Yes you could already get umpteen desktop search apps including Windows Desktop Search from Microsoft for XP but you can’t underestimate the importance of it being installed on every single Vista PC. Now when your mum rings saying she’s lost a document she’s been working on all day you can just direct her to the start menu. Also desktop search folders are handy for finding stuff you haven’t necessarily got stored in one folder but that is useful to gather together from time to time (e.g. documents with “tax invoice or receipt” in them).
5. Sleep mode that actually works.
It’s a small thing but makes a big difference: Vista has finally caught up to operating systems that can sleep near instantly and wake up reliably in a couple of seconds. Read more…
6. Rock-solid laptop encryption
The data on your laptop is worth a hell of a lot to an identity thief. Vista’s “Bitlocker” encryption (only in Enterprise and Ultimate versions) does heavy-duty full-drive encryption so you can be certain that unless a thief has your password there’s simply no way they’re going to get in. Read more…
7. Better file navigation
Vista now has some time-saving features like favourite folders displayed in the left column of every Explorer window as well as “breadcrumbed” folder lists allowing you to quickly jump backward and forward through a path. Sure these should have been put into Windows years ago but at least they’re here now.
8. Inbuilt undelete
Or depending on how you look at it inbuilt rolling backup. Every time you make a change to a file or delete it Windows keeps the previous version. As a result the “oh !@#$ I just overwrote my entire PhD with Document1” feeling can be quickly assuaged. Read more…
OK this isn’t so much a benefit as your hand being forced: DirectX 10 will never be made for XP and a raft of games have already been announced ‘exclusively’ for 10. Admittedly it does take gaming graphics to the next level but it’s very much tied to Vista.
10. Face it you have no choice
When Microsoft brings out a major renovation to Windows you can choose to ignore it for a year or two but then the device drivers start drying up for older versions of Windows your friends start asking questions about their new PC that you can’t answer and even if you use Linux you’ll inevitably need familiarity with Microsoft’s latest interoperability blockers. Face it: your arse belongs to Redmond.