Resons to not buy Vista

I fully believe that Vista’s overall theme is to restrict users.  Instead of allowing users to freely use their own computers, Vista is designed from all angles to be restricting.  This isn’t the operating system’s job.

There’s lots of reasons to avoid Vista, but the information is spread out all over.  We need a single concise location that holds all of the reasons why Vista is a bad idea.

License Issues

  • Microsoft tried to limit how many times you may re-install the OS.  Why?  You bought it, you should have the right to reinstall it as many times as you want.  I’ve blogged about it here.  They changed their mind only after significant negative press.
  • Microsoft limits which operating systems can be run inside of a VM.  Why?  Documented here. UPDATE: A year later, Microsoft lifts this restriction (here).
  • If for whatever reason your PC is deemed by Microsoft to be an illegal copy, it will shut down the operating system into Reduced Functionality Mode.  This “mode” is nothing more than a browser that only lets you on Microsoft web sites (story).  What about transferring your files to another PC?  What about backup?  What happens if this triggers due to no fault of your own (Inproperly activated, stolen key, etc).  Why can’t I access my PC without having to beg Microsoft for permission?  I don’t consider this a mode.  I consider this to be locked out of my PC.
  • CableCard sounds like a fantastic idea for getting rid of all the proprietary cable boxes each provider supplies.  Even more appealing is the idea of putting them into your PC and getting a Tivo experience.  Too bad it’s bogged down by so much beaucracy.  Read some info here.
  • Separate products for separate markets.  I understand that Microsoft needs to make money.  But I think that the “Brand a product” mentality has gotten out of control.  There is absolutely no reason for eight versions of an operating system that pretty much offers the same features (double that if you count 32/64-bit SKUs as different).  This is the client OS, mind you.  The very similar server product adds another four versions (plus four 64-bit SKUs).  The icing on the cake comes from the recent CES, where yet another Windows OS was revealed.  I don’t understand why can’t all of these features be added after a minimal OS is installed.  If I want it to be a server, install the base OS and installed the file and web server product.  Or, if I want it to watch TV, I can install Media Center and be done with it.  Why does it have to be branded as a separate product, and require a re-install of the OS.
  • Microsoft limits how many concurrent sessions you can run inside of Remote Desktop.  It’s a multi-user operating system, why is there a limit?  (Yes, this is an XP limitation as well, but this should have been changed).
  • Ribbon UI licensing.  Mark Gunderloy’s opinion here.  My opinion is that Windows became what it is because of it’s familiar, every app functions the same interface.  It’s tired and boring, but it works.  If you sit down in front of an app that you’re unfamiliar with, you know that functionality is exposed through the menu bar.  If a dialog pops up, you are familar with the layout and the items within it.  If every app looked different, you’d have to re-learn this every time you tried a new program.  By forcing application developers to adopt a license in order to make their app “Windows-like”, it will cause them to re-think their decision and go with something home-grown.  Now, every app will look different.  This will have a determintal effect on the industry.
  • A nice opinion piece that describes some of these license issues: Windows Vista’s new spin on licensing..and why it grates.

DRM Issues

  • A whole lot of DRM-related issues related to Vista are outlined in the article:  A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection.  I think some information is FUD, but I agree with the overall attitude of the article.  Microsoft has responded to the article with this: Windows Vista Content Protection - Twenty Questions, but I find the issue dodging marketing speak offending.
    There’s some real issues here that were not answered properly:
  • Reduced video quality because it’s plugged into the wrong output plug (SPDIF, component, dvi) for no reason other than licensing issues.
  • Reduved video quality because it’s plugged into the wrong TV or monitor for the same reason.
  • Vista reducing audio quality on ASIO devices.
  • Open Source and/or non-qualified drivers.  How do they affect high definition playback?
  • Unified drivers.  The Microsoft response says that they will still exists.  But they have yet to demonstrate this.  The fact that nVidia has (for the first time in years) released non-unified 8800-only drivers leads me to believe otherwise.
  • Tilt bits.  What exactly will trigger them?
  • Initially Microsoft tried to limit HD-playback to 64-bit editions of Vista.  They said that they mis-spoke, but I believe the backlash forced their hand.  Initial article here.  Microsoft admits to their “error” here.

Installation Issues

  • Turns out, if you buy an upgrade of Vista, you have to actually install a previous OS first.  Before, upgrades were validated by entering your old CD or product key.  Now, everyone knows upgrading an OS is nothing like having a fresh clean install.  There’s so much legacy junk laying around after an upgrade that it’s not worth it.  Why is Microsoft doing this?  Documented here.  A workaround has been found here.

Security Issues

  • Why does it take 4 clicks in order to launch an .exe?  Click on an .exe on a web page.  IE security prompt, click Run.  UAC security prompt, type password, click OK.  Windows Defender prompt, Windows Firewall prompt, the madness never ends!  If this is an installer, click Next 10 times to get past all the prompts within there.  If I click on something, I want it to run!
  • UAC.  Windows needs a way to operate as a least-priviledged user.  But UAC is annoying.

User Interface Issues

  • Ribbon UI.  Licensing issues aside, why doesn’t the whole OS offer a ribbon UI.  Why is there this awful mix of Ribbon UI, new Vista bread-crumb UI, and awful Windows 3.1 font dialog-style UI.  Ends up being this horrible inconsistent mess.
  • Start Menu.  Certain aspects people might find useful.  Of course, the fact that it took so many people to design the shutdown menu makes me furious.  (Especially when I consider how broken it is.)
  • With the Glass interface, you can’t tell which window is on top because both windows are transparent.  Would it have been too hard to give these windows two distinct colors to tell them apart, instead of two shades of blue?  Screenshots (from winsupersite):  Vista  -  XP
  • Aero doesn’t appear on certain machines that Vista finds too slow.  There really isn’t a true consensus when it comes to the process of forcing it on  Why is it so difficult to offer a checkbox, “Turn on Aero (could be slow)”?
  • With all the testing Vista received (MS likes to brag about it non-stop), how did a bug like this slip through?  This happens on every File->Open dialog!  A much better question is probably why does that functionality exist in such a low-level API function?

Sound Issues

  • EAX is disabled under Vista DirectSound.  In fact, anything hardware related is disabled in DirectSound.  However, it isn’t disabled if you use OpenAL.  This is why every new game should be using OpenAL.  It’s as if Microsoft is getting out of the sound API market.  Blogged here and here and here.

Gaming Issues

  • If your game is unrated, and Vista Parental Controls are turned on, your game will not run.  It will pop up a strange dialog, people will think your game sucks and won’t play it.  This directly affects the small casual game market.  They don’t have the resources to get every one of their little games rated.  If Microsoft wants to use a game rating system to restrict the OS, they had better provide the service to get their game rated for free (or cheap, I’m not unrealistic).  Good explanation of the situation here.
  • DirectX 10 is Vista only.  Why?  Microsoft says it’s because of the new driver model.  Others in the industry are skeptical.  John Carmack’s opinion
  • Halo 2 PC is Vista only.  Why?  No reason, other than to use as an excuse to buy Vista.

Missing Features Issues

  • Where’s the features?  Where’s the compelling reason to upgrade?  They were dropped because they were too ambitious.
  • WinFS couldn’t be completed.  Not sure if it ever will be thanks to Google Search and the like.
  • Where’s the true 3D Aero UI?  I’m sorry, Flip3D is just not that compelling.  Where’s the revolutionary ideas that should come out of a full 3D UI?