One Last Look at My Windows Vista Review
Those of us who write about computing for a living can be so busy trying out the next would-be-big thing that we often forget to follow up on our past predictions. So I was happy to see Technologizer tech writer Harry McCracken spent some time re-reading some of the first Windows Vista reviews to see what those reviewers missed:
Negative reaction to Vista among consumers and businesses ended up preventing it from ever truly superseding Windows XP in the way it was supposed to do -- but were the reviews among the first signs that something was amiss?
That's a good question to ask, not just for the sake of holding us reviewers accountable but to get us thinking about what sort of underlying issues we might overlook in our coverage of Microsoft's Windows 7, shipping next week.
In his article, McCracken evaluated Vista reviews from both mainstream and tech journalists -- for example, the New York Times' David Pogue, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, BusinessWeek's Steve Wildstrom, CNet's Robert Vamosi and PC Magazine's John Clyman -- to see whether they gave sufficient warning of such Vista foibles as its appetite for memory and all the third-party programs that weren't updated to work with it.
I wasn't among the reviewers subject to his scrutiny, but reading the piece inspired me to look up my own evaluation of Vista to see what I missed then. I posted a lengthy comment to McCracken's piece sharing that re-assessment; here's a revised, annotated version of it:
* I was lukewarm overall about Vista.
* I had no idea so many users would hate Vista. Mind you, I don't like XP and was glad to see Vista improve a few things about XP that have bugged me, such as Windows Explorer's default interface.
* I did note performance and compatibility issues but grossly underestimated how long the second category of problems would persist. It amazes me how apathetic some Windows developers have been about tweaking their apps to work in Vista when so many Mac developers have rewritten their software twice in this decade (once for the OS 9-to-OS X transition, once for the PowerPC-to-Intel processor switch).
* I called UAC a "constant barrage of nags ... a disaster in the making." That last part may have been too negative, as UAC doesn't seem to have made Vista less secure in practice -- just more annoying.
* I counseled against upgrading from XP but wrote that on a new machine with enough processor/memory/graphics resources, Vista represented an advance from XP. I still think that, but I suppose I may be in the minority on this point.
In looking over my 2007 review, I also see that I placed way too much value in the applets bundled with Vista -- Windows Calendar, Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and so on -- inasmuch as Microsoft has yanked most of them from 7. And I didn't even think to mention compatibility issues with 64-bit Vista, a topic that now takes up a non-trivial amount of my reader e-mail.
I did cover some of these Vista problems in the follow-up column and blog post I wrote on Vista's one-year anniversary. It took me another few months to note the quiet demise of one of Vista's initially hyped features, support for secondary "SideShow" LCDs, and I didn't devote serious attention to 64-bit ailments until last fall.
If you've got some spare time today, I encourage you to give my first Vista review another look and tell me what you think I missed.
For extra credit, check out Microsoft's advertised Windows 7 features and share your best guesses about which ones will (a) work out as promised, (b) be unappreciated or ignored by most home users or (c) fail in some gruesome fashion unforeseen by Microsoft and, perhaps, those of us in the computing press.
October 14, 2009; 12:32 PM ET
Categories: Recommended reading , The business we have chosen , Windows
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