Will technology ever catch up?

Archive for the ‘Vista’ Category

Rant: Mourning the release of Vista…

Posted by cascadehush on February 1, 2007

It’s probably obvious, but I’ve taken a week off from the blog.  (Apart from a few linkdumps, which don’t count, because who really reads them anyway.)

Vista is released today, that is the big story. I don’t like it, but it’s happening anyway. I could rant and rave but that’s not going to change anything. Many people will buy it, many more will get stuck with it and a significant number will continue with XP for many years to come. That’s my plan.

And if the OS after Vista isn’t something totally new, re-engineered from the ground up, without all the silly DOS throwbacks and over-the-top self conscious showboating (designed to mask the silly DOS throwbacks) then I’ll be switching completely to OSX and or Linux for my sundry boxxens.

Hey, maybe in 5 years Linux will actually be good.

Posted in Rant, Vista, Windows XP | 2 Comments »

Vista: Forget Aero, just use cmd.exe

Posted by cascadehush on January 26, 2007

» 10 expert tips and tweaks for Windows Vista RC2 | Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report | ZDNet.com:

Tweak #1: Add an elevated Command Prompt Windows power users know that a command prompt (Cmd.exe) is the fastest way to many tasks–much faster than digging through menus and tabbed dialog boxes. In Windows Vista, this is more true than ever, thanks to User Account Control.

Doesn’t it speak volumes when the first Vista tip on a major news site is to make it easier to revert to the command prompt? Doesn’t it demonstrate that for all Vista’s supposed prettiness that there are still fundamental usability problems in Windows?

Posted in Rant, Vista | 2 Comments »

Vista: Lifehacker Vista tips

Posted by cascadehush on January 23, 2007

Windows Vista Tip: Save your searches in virtual folders – Lifehacker

Ever wish you could save the results of a desktop search so you didn’t have to repeat the search in the future? Windows Vista lets you do exactly that with a new feature called Virtual Folders.

Windows Vista Tip: Built-in Quick Launch keyboard shortcuts – Lifehacker

Windows Vista automatically assigns keyboard shortcuts to programs and documents on your Quick Launch bar. Just use the Windows key + the number of the program in the order it appears there.

Much as I dislike it, Vista isn’t all bad.

Of course OSX has had ‘Smart Folders’ for awhile now, and QuickSilver beats just about any other way of launching applications.

Still, these are two handy hits. And if you are going to use vista, you need all the help you can get.

Posted in Opinion, OSX, Software, Vista | Leave a Comment »

Vista: Please don’t buy it online

Posted by cascadehush on January 22, 2007

Microsoft to offer Windows Vista online – Yahoo! News:

The download program, being announced late Wednesday by the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker, will also include the Office 2007 line of software when both are released for consumers Jan. 30. At least initially, the huge downloads will be available in North America only.

Not just Vista but Office available for download.

Actually this is not as surprising as it seems. For the last 5 years or so, Microsoft has been moving the emphasis away from Boxes and Disks and towards Keys and Activation as the primary factor in software license ownership. Microsoft have a tried and tested anti-piracy system which involves tying software to hardware to prevent a single copy of their software being installed on multiple machines.

Of course this will be a nightmare for local PC Technicians, who have a hard enough time keeping track of who has a legitimate license for what. At the moment we can trust that a PC with an OEM windows license sticker probably has a legitimate license, but how are we to be sure when someone simply tells us that they bought their copy online.

Add to that the tech support nightmare of failed or partial downloads and lost keys.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Opinion, Software, Vista | Leave a Comment »

XP/OSX: Vista to create 100,000 tech support jobs in Aus

Posted by cascadehush on January 11, 2007

OS X Leopard will create no new jobs | APC Magazine:

Vista seems set to impact on the economy by creating more IT support jobs to fix the broken or frozen computers

They won’t be pleasant or high-paid jobs, they will be high pressure and thankless. Coming to terms with the problematic side of an OS takes time, and there are likely to be many confused Vista users from day one. The techs will be doing their upmost just to keep a few steps ahead of the average user as new problems emerge.

I particularly pity anyone trying to provide phone support for Vista, the interface is just so inconsistent. XP was bad enough, with system settings spread between the Management Console, System Properties Dialog Box, Control Panel, Internet Explorer Properties (even if you don’t use the browser, there are still some crucial settings hidden there) and even the Help and Support window. Vista adds to this complexity with an even more inconsistent interface.

This is just a mess. The System Preferences in OSX is lightyears ahead. Not only are all the settings in one place, but they are in one window. You don’t get secondary and tertiary windows popping up in order to make settings changes.

I’m disappointed but not surprised that Leopard won’t create any new jobs, because I’d much rather work with Leopard than Vista.

User support is at the heart of my dislike for Vista. There isn’t anything wrong with the OS in terms of performance or features. But I strongly believe that Microsoft and the IT Press have overlooked the fact that the Vista’s garish and convoluted interface is only going to confuse the average user who only barely copes with XP. It may have some groovy features that tech people like, but 90% of users won’t ever even know they are there, let alone use them. Maybe Alt+Tab will make a big comeback (to pick one example), but not many Windows users know about it now, and most that do don’t use it; so will they take advantage of Vista’s improved version?

And to top that off, tech support is going to be much more difficult than any previous version of Windows.

Posted in OSX, Vista | Leave a Comment »

Vista: Activation Crack

Posted by cascadehush on January 11, 2007

Permanently Activate Windows Vista by Skip Activation with Patched TimerStop.sys Crack » My Digital Life

Permanently Activate Windows Vista by Skip Activation with Patched TimerStop.sys Crack

Two very similar posts, one probably plagiarised from the other. Anyway, here they are, should you choose to attempt to bypass, postpone or otherwise circumvent activation in Vista.

Posted in Security, Troubleshooting, Vista | 2 Comments »

Vista: Australian Prices for Windows Vista OEM

Posted by cascadehush on January 3, 2007

At least one major Australian IT distributor has listed their wholesale prices for the OEM version of Vista and is due to have stock by the end of the month. OEM versions of windows are intended to be sold with a computer, and are cheeper than boxed retail versions. However, many online discounters will sell the OEM versions, allowing you to pick up a legal (or semi-legal) copy of windows fairly cheep.

I’m not going to reveal the wholesale prices, but the following is a rough guide to the retail cost of Windows Vista OEM. This is the amount that a legit widows license will contribute to the cost of a whitebox system as built and supplied by your friendly local PC sale and repair shop.

Vista Home Basic $159
Vista Home Premium $199
Vista Business $259
Vista Ultimate $349

At this price, Vista Home Basic is more expensive than XP Home, and most people will want Vista Home Premium at least, which means that the average home user will be paying about $70 more for windows than they do now. And if you want a budget system, you’ll have to add to that a cheap graphics card for about $100 to get the best of the new features. XP Home was quite happy with onboard graphics.

In that sense, midrange systems (which are likely to have a graphics card anyway) are looking like they will be much better value than low end systems (which typically relied on onboard graphics to keep the prices low). This is not necessary a bad thing for the industry.

Online discounters could slash Vista prices by about 10-20% off these values. I have no news about boxed retail versions or upgrade versions. Typically a full boxed version is about twice the price of the OEM version and an upgrade price is somewhere in-between.

Posted in PC, Software, Vista | Leave a Comment »

Vista: 2 Gigs ‘Great’ Says Dell CEO

Posted by cascadehush on October 31, 2006

TechWeb: Vista With 2 Gigs ‘Great’ Says Dell CEO:

Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins told Bloomberg News: “I think they tell you maybe 1 gig [gigabyte] of memory is okay. No. Two gigs of memory would be great.”

Well maybe, but I’m running Visa RC1 with 1GB of memory and a 3GHz Prescott P4 and performance isn’t an issue. I could even run Aero even though I only have an nVidia FX5200 based graphics card. I don’t run Aero because I mainly use this box for video playback and the graphics drivers can’t cope with both Aero and video at the same time. This is a driver issue that will be fixed in due course.

The system requirements for XP were always over-hyped. Most people have trouble with XP because they have bloatware on their system or are trying to run too many programs. You can’t blame the operating system when the bulk of memory and CPU time is being used by a bunch of (often) poorly written programs. You’ll find that most of the time XP itself is using a very small percentage of your CPU cycles and RAM to keep itself going.

There is always a sweet-spot, however. Whilst XP struggles at times with only 256MB, it runs very well with 512MB. I’m sure Vista will double those values, but I don’t think it will quadruple them.

Posted in Hardware, PC, Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

XP: Happy 5th birthday, Windows XP!

Posted by cascadehush on October 30, 2006

ars technica: Happy 5th birthday, Windows XP!:

After five years, many people consider Windows XP to be getting a little long in the tooth. Yet such is the maturity of the operating systems market that there are far fewer “must-have” reasons to upgrade now than there were in the past. Windows XP brought drastically improved stability, a robust file system, and overall improved performance (provided you had enough RAM) to the general public, making it a worthwhile upgrade from the 9x series in almost all cases. Will Vista offer enough compelling reasons to upgrade? Or will the venerable XP keep chugging along in most people’s homes for years to come?

According to this article, 75% of Google searches are performed using XP and only 8% with Windows 98. But I suspect there are many Windows 98 boxes still out there that are not necessarily used by the type of web surfers that are big on Google searches, but are used for email and online banking.

My point is that 8 years after Windows 98 was released, and 5 years after XP, it still runs a significant proportion of PCs, despite being vastly inferior to XP.

Now Vista is not significantly superior to XP. If Windows 98 has survived 5 years of XP, I think XP will survive more than 5 years of Vista. I think there will come a time when Microsoft will have to start taking drastic measures to move people away from XP. It will eventually stop making XP available to distributors, that is inevitable, but I fear this may be sooner rather than later. There could even come a time when they no longer allow activation, which is exactly why such copy protection is evil.

I don’t consider XP long in the tooth. It is more stable and reliable than ever. I plan on using XP for a long time to come. I want to make it clear that my utter disgruntledness about Vista only increases my respect for XP. In the long-term, unless Microsoft can come up with something way better than Vista, it is likely I’ll be migrating completely to OSX. But I’ll be keeping my XP boxes alive for as long as possible.

Posted in PC, Vista, Win9x, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Vista: Still missing OSX’s 2 best features

Posted by cascadehush on October 29, 2006

I’ve been running Vista for a couple of weeks now. I must say I don’t see the point. It doesn’t seem like an upgrade, rather a side-grade. Different for the sake of being different.

Vista tries to include some of the visual flare of OSX but for the most part fails to actually include anything genuinely useful. But it’s not visual niceties for the sake of aesthetics that are OSX’s biggest asset.

There are two particularly silly and amateurish shortfalls that continue in Vista from earlier Windows.

The first problem is it’s continued use of drive letters to identify disks. This idiotic carry-over from the days of DOS 1.0 creates several problems.

You can never tell what drive letter you’ll get when you plug a removable disk in into the computer. This makes it difficult to work with removable disks with some programs, and adds a layer of complexity if you want to automate tasks.

If you install a new HD, your other drives (including optical drives) can be re-assigned and some programs will have to be re-configured or may stop working.

An even more insidious problem is where windows fails to assign a unique drive letter to different devices. I have a USB card reader that I can’t use at work because windows tries to assign it a sequence of drive letters (one for each type of card slot). When some of those drive letters clash with already assigned drive letters, that card slot is unusable. There is no work around for this. It is common for windows to try to assign drive letters to USB devices which are already taken by network shares.

OSX avoids all these problems by using volume labels to identify drives. This allows me to keep my iPhoto Library on a removable HD and transfer it between my 2 Macs. My card reader only shows up when I actually have a card in the device, so there is no hunting around to find the drive letter for the card.

The second problem is the Taskbar. The Taskbar comes to us from Windows 95, and is a great way of switching between about 4 programs. Back then people were grateful to be able to run more that 2 programs without the OS crashing. Any more than 4 and the taskbar is a mess. Even with a wide-screen monitor it’s not really much better.

You can re-configure the bar to give you 2 rows. This is the first thing I do when I use a Windows PC. But it’s still a mess. Microsoft tried to fix this in XP by allowing you to ‘Group Similar Taskbar Buttons’. This is just adding frustration to injury.

Is it any wonder that so many programs offer some method of hiding their presence from the Taskbar by only showing up as a System Tray Icon next to the clock.

OSX has the Dock and it has Expose.

The Dock is great because the user knows where a certain program is. If they want to run Firefox (for example) they click on the Firefox icon. If they have minimized or hidden Firefox and want to get it back, guess where they click – the Firefox icon. If it’s running, OSX is sensible enough to bring the program to the front. If it’s not, OSX launches it. This is next-generation thinking. The user doesn’t have to worry about whether a program is running or not and act differently.

Expose is even better. A user can choose a window by looking at all windows and choosing the one they want. It’s a natural, human way to work. Vista tries to provide a thumbnail view of running programs in three different ways, none of which are as useful as Expose. They could have just ripped off Expose. They should have.

Posted in Opinion, OSX, PC, Vista | Leave a Comment »