Talking about cost of ownership on its own is nuts.

There, I’ve come out and said it. There are two sides in most economic decisions, the gain side and the cost side. You can’t make a decision based on just one. So anyone with a budget should ask

  • Can I get the same gain for less cost (reducing TCO)
  • Can I get more gain for the same cost (increasing benefit)
  • If I spend more or less does the change in benefit outweigh the change in cost.

Consultants like to use terms like ROI (return on Investment) for the ratio of cost to gain. The rest of us call it Value for Money. My gut instinct is that concentrating on costs is usually the harder way to improve profitability, return or value. You can’t ignore costs, but more often the answer is on the benefit side.

In Vista we have done things on the cost side– reducing the cost of downtime and deployment. But after only a few days working with Vista and Office 12, I’m not going back to XP – there are many benefits, some big, some small. So for the time being my posts about Vista will be on that side, and not so much on the cost reduction side. This is just a random “Top 5 list” of things that

  1. Hibernate on low power. XP does this, but the first you know that your battery is nearly exhausted is when you boot back up to find a dialog box on screen. If you don’t shut down again or plug in really quickly the battery dies, Vista tells you BEFORE it resumes why it hibernated. Less panic, less risk of losing work.
  2. Printers. XP inherited its printer dialog from Windows 2000, so you had to tell it expressly to search Active Directory for near you printers. Vista appears to detect the AD subnet and search for printers automatically so you get a list of nearby (which you usually want if it is available).
  3. Search EVERYWHERE. When I wanted to find something I mailed 2 years ago – I knew it had the word “bathroom” in it – not a common word in my documents, I pressed the Window key typed in bathroom and had found the mail which contained the item as attachment in about a second. You search mail along with everything else, and the search “cracks” attachments. But it’s not just a desktop search, search in control panel means I no more remembering paths to stuff.
  4. Preview in the shell. You’ve seen the filmstrip view for pictures in XP ... imagine the same thing for Text, saved HTML pages (including MHT files), Documents, Spreadsheets and presentations. You can scroll through the document, look at each page in a spreadsheet or watch the slide show, without leaving explorer – you can even copy data from the reading pane – I’ve just moved to a new Laptop, and this meant I can do a “spring clean” of my documents folder for the first time since .... well the first time I can remember actually.
  5. DVD burning support. I never understood why XP had CD burning but not DVD burning built in. Backup burns to DVD too.
  6. Compatibility. Spotting a failure to run an setup and re-running in a self configured compatibility mode is like seeing a magic trick. I’ve hit two compatibility issues, one which is being worked on, and one with some very old copy protection software. Every piece of hardware I’ve tried has worked with XP drivers.

There are a load more but these are just the ones that have stuck me in the last couple of days. IE-7 has so many pluses that I’ve written about it before, and it’s not strictly a vista thing because I have it on my XP laptop. IE7’s implementation of RSS is great – doubly so when used with Outlook 2007. Media Player 11 is also available for XP, but having Media center in the standard product is better.

Vista is not finished, beta 2 is nearly out but we have more work to do – there were no working screen drivers for my laptop till recently, waiting to see what display(s) – if any – the current ones will select adds excitement to resuming the machine.