Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Anyone can write an article these days…

Anyone can write an article these days…

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Everyone has a blog, including my dog.  For the past few years the debate on whether blogs are journalism has been discussed.  Are they?  What’s the difference in writing for a magazine or online publication and a blog?  Someone checks the facts?  There’s an editor to uphold the reputation of the publisher?  Well it seems times are a changin.

Normally I don’t care to think about it much until someone forwards me a link to an article that seems out of place.  The latest round of journalism I received a link to is the article, “Windows XP SP3: The Perfect Reason to Avoid Upgrading to Windows Vista” by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols.  Now keep in mind this is on the CIO.com website.  I don’t know if they printed the article.  I certainly hope not.  But after reading the article I wondered what the agenda is for the site.

vista_wallpaper There are certain aspects of the article I’m cool with.  I certainly have no problem having someone say, “Windows XP SP3 is the best Windows PC operating system I've ever used”.  Sounds good, right?  But is it accurate?  Maybe it is the best Steven has used, I don’t know.  I can say without a doubt, that is not the case for me.

For me, it’s Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, then Windows XP.  I mean really.  Windows Server rocks.  2003 is as solid as they come, and 2008 is looking really good as well.  But I’m a server guy so I naturally show more love for the server stuff.  But it’s early for Windows Server 2008 and I don’t like to declare success for an OS until it has some history.  Let’s not forget a lot of code is shared between Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.  But I’m confusing the issue.  I digress.

The article is about desktop operating systems.  It’s interesting to me that the conclusion of the article is that Windows Vista is a pig.  But the author states, “My personal minimum configuration for Vista is 3GB of RAM, a dedicated graphics processor with 512MBs of RAM to call its own and a 2007 or newer dual-core processor (like, say, a 2.33GHz Intel Core2 Duo E6550)”.

What?

Now I’m confused.  Steven basically says Windows XP is great.  Then he says Windows Vista is a pig.  Then he advises what you should run to get outstanding Windows Vista performance.  He didn’t actually say that, so I will.  You can get outstanding performance, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Let’s rewind to December 29, 2006.  On that date, I wrote a blog post on Installing Windows Vista on a Compaq Evo n620c.  When I did that article, I was actually surprised at how well Windows Vista ran on the machine.  Now don’t get me wrong, that machine doesn’t hold a candle to my Lenovo ThinkPad T61p running the 64 bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate.  But it isn’t supposed to.  And that’s the point.  But it did run Windows Vista and with that comes security, management, and networking improvements.  Windows Vista isn’t just a new theme.

Machines evolve with user wants and needs.  The software that runs on those machines also evolves.  If you look at the Windows Vista ecosystem, it has improved dramatically since we launched the product.  My blog post and install of Windows Vista on December 29, 2006 was using the real RTM bits of Windows Vista.  Doesn’t 12/29/2006 already seem ancient to you?  Well it isn’t, but Microsoft and it’s hardware and software partners have made a huge amount of progress since that time.

If you have machines that still have value and run Windows XP well, kewl!!!  However, the machine I did the install on above is no more.  It died.  I took it to PC Recycle.  It’s been replaced.  That’s ok because it was almost five years old and had been properly beaten up by a group of presenters during it’s life.  In short, we got a lot of value from that machine.  For the record, I have another one.  I have a Compaq Evo n620c sitting right next to me that is nearly identical to the previous machine.  It currently has Windows XP SP3 on it.  But it only has 1GB of RAM so it really isn’t designed for Windows Vista. 

So do yourself a favor.  When it comes time to replace a machine, get a machine with a good CPU, plenty of RAM, and a great GPU.  Users want eye candy.  They want Flash and Silverlight websites.  They want high definition video.  They want a snappy operating system.  Windows Vista is very snappy with the right mix of components.  Don’t bother trying to run Windows Vista with a NVIDIA 6200 graphics card like Steven did.  At least not if you are trying to run Aero Glass.  For heavens sake, turn off Aero in that case. 

There are many reasons I totally disagree with many of the commercials and articles I’ve seen lately.  In fact, I’ll be exploring a lot of that over the next few months.  There’s a lot of FUD out there and I hope to dispel a lot of the bad information I see.  I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but like I told a Windows Marketing Manager on the phone today, it’s time to start stating some facts.  You hear enough FUD and you start to believe it.  Trust me, I fell into the same trap until I started testing things on my own.

Over the next few months we’ll revisit application compatibility, driver support, updates on deployment techniques, hot machines you should consider, etc.  I think you’ll find the information I have coming very useful and will help you make informed choices.

“See” you again soon!

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  • Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols?  The former editor of Linux Watch?  The blogger lambasted for copying word-for-word from Red Hat press releases to write his articles (http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/2008/04/steven-j-vaughan-cut-and-paste-is-at-it.html)?  Writing a negative story about Vista?  I'm shocked.  Shocked!

    -Sean ;)

  • He might want to think about fixing his personal blog at http://practical-tech.com/.  It looks like something hosed the formatting of his site.  Must have been Vista.

  • you want facts? i was in the beta. address some of these problems and bonehead decisions. that's why i refuse to use vista. i used xp a year before it was released. here it is over a year AFTER vista was released and i still can't use it.

    do you want bugs?

    1. in windows mail, watched messages in newsgroups are not highlighted when a response is posted. makes it near impossible to tell if someone has responded to a post i made. worked in every version of outlook express for 10 years, then they broke it in vista. this was reported in april of 2005 and it was never fixed.

    2. the practice of only storing the 20 most recent addresses in autocomplete in windows mail.

    3. the folder view settings not being retained. set the folder view the way you want it, and the next time you open it, it may or may not be like you set it.

    We told them to change simple things they changed to annoy users and make it take more clicks to accomplish the same task than it did in xp:

    1. bring back the access to network connections by right clicking on the tray icon and selecting open network connections.

    2. we told them to bring back the ability to right click the tray icon and get the network status.

    3. we told them to bring back list view in folders.

    4. we told them to bring back the behavior in a folder window that only selects the file name, and not the entire row including date and size.

    5. we told them to display the folder size in the status bar without having to select all of the files.

    6. try changing the time. yes, you don't do it very often, but why does it take more clicks?

    7. try changing the panes in folder view. you have to traverse the menu system 3 times the get rid of all of the panes.

    8. it tries to do everything for everybody, defrag, index, offline files, diagnostic data. no wonder normal pc's can't run it. and who cares about transparent title bars? i sure as hell don't. i want the operating system to be the fastest it can be.

    9. in my opinion, search really sucks, too.

    they gave us list view back in the folder views. Big deal.

    in my opinion, every version of vista is vista home. too much fluff for anybody who wants to get work done instead of watching some dreamscene video on the desktop. who cares?

  • You see more and more of these bandwagon jumping tards as time goes by.

    arstechnica.com is particularly fond of posting anti-microsoft articles even when they are filled with half-truth and inaccuracies.

    I expect regular blogs to be inundated with bad facts and such, but not an editorial website.

  • FYI, your link connects to a survey... bad form.

  • Sorry Brian.  The links to my blog, my dogs blog, and the article all work for me.  I assume you are referring to CIO.com which I cannot control.  

    Bad form indeed.

  • Keith, I haven't read the article in question but I do know that MS has oversold the minimum requirements for Vista.  The machine with the Nvidia 6200 video was probably Vista certified.  I have run Vista in various configs as well and FOR TESTING I was fine with even running Aero on my old Toshiba M2 with a 64mb Nvidia 5200FX Go card (definitely not certified). But wouldn't even consider it for my production machine.

    My latest machine is an HP 6510b with Intel 965 Express.  The CPU can certainly handle Vista but why are new machines shipping with Vista and such horrible video cards?

    My organization is still slow to adopt and continues to roll out XP SP1 (even on brand new machines).  Perhaps we are more conservative than most but when even new technology doesn't support the latest software, what else would you propose?

  • MikeK,

    Regarding your question on why OEM's would build a machine with a horrible video card, I guess the blame falls in several camps.  I would imagine cost comes into play but frankly I don't know if we're talking pennies, dollars or hundreds of dollars.  

    The NVIDIA video chip in the MacBook Pro, the ThinkPad T61p, and several other products on the market make those laptops drive a great Vista experience.  My Dell XPS 420 is also a killer Vista experience.

    I guess we chould be blamed.  Maybe we should have set the Windows Vista logo requirements much higher.  However, people still try to force a square peg in a round hole.  By that I mean trying to run Aero Glass on machines that really can't handle it.  As you said, it ends up being a horrible experience.  Turn it off.