Today I was pointed to an article giving 10 reasons to use Windows Vista by a topic over at OSNews. I have read the reasons, and they may very well be factual. My opposition of them mostly derives from the fact that the capabilities listed are nothing new or special. Many of them have been around for a decade, if not more, on existing systems.
The first point is about the increased support for multimedia. From what the article states, it appears that such functionality is quite basic in comparision to that offered by other systems. More than a decade ago, the Amiga family of systems and SGI’s IRIX-based systems offered fantastic video, graphics and audio editing and manipulation support. These days, Mac OS X is often acknowledged as being the leader when it comes to multimedia operations. I doubt that Microsoft has implemented functionality to compete with those existing systems.
The second point basically describes the many “live CD” Linux distributions we have had available to us for a number of years now. I don’t need to say more.
The third point talks of better driver handling. First of all, I’d like to say that I’ve found that recent Linux distributions, and even FreeBSD, offer far better hardware support than Windows XP. I don’t know if Windows Vista is much better than XP in this regard. And when it comes to installing drivers, systems like Ubuntu and FreeBSD integrate some drivers with their native package management system. For example, nVidia’s video card drivers can be installed just as any other application would be installed on such systems. They can be just as easily removed if problems arise.
I can’t comment much on point four, as I haven’t used the searching facilities of Windows Vista for myself. If it’s anything like the searching capabilities included with past versions of Windows, I likely won’t be impressed. I have found that using utilities like ‘find’ and ‘grep’, available on most UNIX-like systems, is often far more productive and efficient than the Windows searching functionality.
Point five is about sleep functionality that “actually works”. This is functionality that works fine with Mac OS X, and to the best of my knowledge always has. Likewise, the few times I have needed this sort of functionality with Linux systems, it has always just worked. If Windows Vista is just getting to the point of functioning as it should, that’s not an accomplishment.
The sixth point speaks of encrypted filesystems. Cryptography is not really my area, but FreeBSD’s GBDE system sounds quite similar to what is offered by Vista here. Considering that security is the main goal of using an encrypted filesystem, I’d much rather go with the open source system from FreeBSD whose source code I can actively inspect myself, rather than the closed source system where I can’t verify the code actually does what it is claimed it is doing.
Point seven talks about file nagivation changes. Even after years of GUI-based file managers, I still find that none compare to the speed of Bash, Bash’s tab completion, ‘ls’ and ‘cd’, as found on Linux, BSD, and other UNIX-like systems.
The eighth reason covers the file versioning support of Vista. This is functionality that has existed in VMS for decades. Instead of building such support into their filesystems, many UNIX-like systems have instead offered powerful version control systems like SCCS, RCS, CVS and Subversion to manage file versioning. And using cron, it’s very easy to run a command that will make a copy of a critical file every 5 to 10 minutes. It can even upload the file to a remote FTP server, if you really need to ensure your data is not lost.
DirectX 10 is the focus of the ninth point. I tend not to do any gaming, so I can’t really comment on how useful or beneficial DirectX 10 is.
I really disagree with the tenth point. It basically suggests that I have no choice but to use Vista. One example it brings forth is that of answering the questions of relatives who use it. I have a simple answer for them these days: Ubuntu. Most of the time I’m quite willing to explain the benefits and limitations to them. If they’re interested, I’ll set up Ubuntu on their system for them, and teach them how to use it. Several of my relatives have done this already, and they’ve been quite pleased with their new systems. Not having to worry about viruses, worms, and other malicious software is a major factor. The low price of Ubuntu (free) is always looked upon with pleasure. And it’s very easy for me to securely remotely access their systems, so if necessary I can fix problems from my own house.
It will likely be a similar situation when it comes to the business users and systems I will need to work with. I fully expect companies to go with Windows Vista because some ignorant IT staff heard from some Microsoft reps that it was their best option. Soon enough, these companies will run into trouble deploying their system, and they’ll need some help. In we’ll come, likely bringing Linux, Solaris, or FreeBSD, and a host of open source solutions. We’ll get their system or network working with minimal cost, often reusing existing hardware, and with a greater degree of reliability and security.
As you have just read, the ten points that original article gives for using Windows Vista do not hold up to scrutiny. Many of the features mentioned have been available for decades, often on freely-available operating systems. Some of the other features, like the graphical filesystem nagivation functionality, are inherently flawed. And it’s a laughing matter to think that us non-Windows users will need to use Vista just to know how to use it. All we’ll need to know is that it can be uninstalled and replaced with a more capable system.
After reading that article, I’m not at all convinced that I should even consider switching to Windows Vista. There just doesn’t seem to be any significant reason why I should switch.