Vista Redux

Went to a Microsoft Technet seminar today about Vista, Powershell, and Group Policy. Not the most exciting topics to cover, but the presenters were interesting and had a good sense of humor. They were surprisingly candid about many of the problems and shortcomings of Vista, why they had occurred, and what still wasn’t fixed. There was a fair amount of good natured heckling from the audience. There was a very funny moment when someone pointed out the Vista machine the demo was running on was displaying a “Not Windows Genuine Software” message, meaning that it had never been activated correctly and was tagged as a pirated version.

Of course it was part sales pitch. We heard all the wonderful things about Vista and how much it had been improved in SP1. A lot of this was true though. I’ve been running Vista on and off for a while, and it’s not a bad system if you have a sufficiently modern system to run it on. They also gave out free Vista Ultimate discs to everyone. Full licensed versions, which is around a $300 value. Not bad for listening to a sales pitch for four hours. And I learned a number of things that may be helpful to me at work since I’m now managing several Windows servers.

Vista may ultimately go down as one of Microsoft’s greatest failures. In my opinion it’s still too early to make that call, and not completely fair. I think a lot will depend on how soon the next version comes out and if it is a major improvement. Supposedly they are working on Windows 7, and it may even launch sometime next year. They aren’t planning on giving Vista as long of a run as XP had. XP has been around a long time. It was first released in 2001, and to be honest, it was a pretty lousy OS at that time. I didn’t start viewing it as a decent operating system until SP2 came out for it about two and a half years later. Over its seven years of life it has had a chance to mature and improve.

While there isn’t a good excuse for Microsoft to release a buggy, bloated OS to market before it was anywhere near ready, it wasn’t a huge surprise either. They’ve done it before. And is comparing a yearling OS to a seven year old veteran of the tech world that has been continuously patched and updated completely fair? My guess is that in a year’s time with another SP for Vista, we will be seeing it turn into a platform with performance and stability as good or better than XP. More patches and updates will be applied, better drivers will be written, and the baseline for system hardware will have risen.

I’m not trying to be a Microsoft apologist. There is still plenty about them that annoys me and I have yet to find an OS I consider perfect. Just trying to keep things in perspective.