Category Archive 'Vista'

08 Jul 2009

Bad News for Redmond

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Lifehacker tells us that Google will be be releasing its free, open-source Chrome Operating System later this year. Google says:

We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Chrome OS is going to be netbook oriented in its earliest version, and the idea apparently is ultimately to replace PC software with on-live Google applications like Gmail and Google Docs.

Persuading users to give up the familiar isn’t easy, but Microsoft has done a fine job lately, particularly with Vista, in creating a real opportunity for anyone able to offer more speed and convenience.

26 Jan 2009

Why the Microsoft Layoffs?

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InfoWorld points to Vista.

Windows Vista has been trouble for Microsoft perhaps since the operating system’s beginning. And this last quarter was certainly no exception. Despite a dip in client software revenue, however, one analyst says the workforce reduction Microsoft detailed on Thursday is healthy — at least from enterprise IT shops’ perspective.

When Microsoft released its earnings report on Thursday, the company indicated not only that it would lay off up to 5,000 workers or 5 percent of its total headcount but also that software client revenue — as in Windows Vista — sank by 8 percent.

“Windows Vista didn’t do well. Based on our data, a lot of clients are skipping Windows Vista,” says Neil MacDonald, an analyst at Gartner. Indeed, nearly every other major analyst firm found a similar lack of Vista adoption, with Forrester Research likening the OS to the failed New Coke.

20 Oct 2008

Cruel

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Apple mocks Microsoft’s approach to defending Vista through advertising.

0:30 video

08 Oct 2008

Can Microsoft Be Saved?

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Techradar.com discusses the behemoth software maker’s struggle for survival.

Microsoft is still making enormous sums of money, but cracks are appearing in its $16 billion Windows business. The death of XP has been postponed several times – the current rash of ultra-small, ultra-cheap laptops don’t have the horsepower to run Vista – and while Microsoft claims to have sold 180 million Vista licences, many of those licences are for machines running XP.

As Jane Bradburn of HP Australia told reporters in July, “From 30 June, we have no longer been able to ship a PC with an XP licence. However, what we have been able to do [is] to ship PCs with a Vista business licence but with XP pre- loaded. That is still the majority of business PCs we are selling today.”

There’s no compelling reason for users to upgrade: Vista requires more powerful hardware than XP, and it’s been plagued by driver problems and incompatibilities. As a result, it’s faced an avalanche of bad publicity – some of it deservedly so, as users found that their devices didn’t work.

The bad publicity isn’t helping enterprise adoption. According to Forrester analyst Ben Gray, “Desktop operations professionals tell Forrester that they see the value in standardising on Vista, but many are having a hard time convincing their CIOs that the move isn’t a risky bet, given the mixed reaction it’s received in the press and the speculation surrounding what to expect after Vista.” Forrester reports that 8.8 per cent of enterprise customers have migrated to Vista; 87 per cent are still running XP.

The ‘mixed reaction’ has been a gift for Apple, whose ‘Mac vs PC’ campaign mocked Microsoft ruthlessly. The ads worked: according to BMO Capital Markets analyst Keith Bachman, “More than 50 per cent of customers buying Macs in Apple stores are first time buyers.” …

So has Microsoft lost it? A company with 93 per cent of the worldwide operating system market, rising revenues, a $60billion turnover and around $22.49billion in operating income is hardly struggling. However, the world in which Microsoft operates is changing dramatically, and Microsoft knows it. …

Microsoft is fighting back on multiple fronts. It’s “developing versions of our products with basic functionality that are sold at lower prices than standard versions”, but more importantly it’s chucking enormous sums of money at things that may or may not work. …

To many observers, the way in which Microsoft’s online division is haemorrhaging cash is a sign that Microsoft has missed the boat – but the ‘let’s throw money at this until it works’ approach has worked in the past for Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and Xbox, none of which were immediately successful. Microsoft may not be the leader in search, cloud computing or mobile phones, but the combination of determination and deep pockets is a powerful one.

Hat tip to Meaningless Hot Air.

28 Aug 2008

Linux: A Cautionary Tale

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Since I detest Vista, I’ve started fooling around with Linux on a new laptop. Ubuntu installed easily, but there is this little problem with accessing the Internet.

My wife sent me the following cartoon some weeks ago as a warning, and I’m afraid it already seems to be a very accurate picture of my Linux experience.

24 Jul 2008

Microsoft Tries Fighting Back

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Ed Bott likes Microsoft’s initial ad attempting to defend Vista, but observes that it’s going to take more than trying to ridicule the messenger.

That’s a pretty good start. The real hard work begins with the messages that immediately follow this one. Microsoft has to identify the real benefits in Windows Vista and communicate them clearly and crisply. That’s not going to be any easy task.

Not easy at all, IMHO.

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Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out that MSFT’s ad isn’t going to get it done, because although the earth was not flat, Vista really does suck.

Even the overall message that the ad is trying to convey is uninspiring. For example:

    Meanwhile, a series of independent speed tests found that Windows Vista with SP1 performed comparably to Windows XP SP2.

    Why doesn’t it win? Simple. Behind the scenes, Windows Vista is doing a lot more on your behalf than Windows XP does. It’s indexing your files so you can find them fast, keeping your hard drive organized, saving your work so nothing gets lost, and defending your computer against hackers and phishers.

So, when your favorite first person shooter starts to stutter, or that photo is taking a little too long to open in Photoshop, you can take comfort in the fact that Vista is doing a lot more on your behalf than Windows XP ever did.

I tried Vista recently, and I thought it was doing a lot too much for me. Every mouse click produced a close relative of MS Office’s infamous dancing paperclip freezing the action and popping up to warn me that opening a browser or clicking on an application could expose my system to viruses or possibly initiate a fatal sequence of events leading to the heat death of the universe.

I gathered a distinct impression that Vista’s designers really believed one should take that PC and admire the nice Microsoft wallpaper through the lucite block you had cast around it.

Everyone assured me that one could reduce the level of pestering by tweaking security settings, so I reduced them alright. I just installed XP right over it.

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

10 Mar 2008

I’m Still Using XP

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Yesterday’s New York Times discusses Microsoft’s Vista debacle, which is now producing lawsuits from frustrated consumers.

One year after the birth of Windows Vista, why do so many Windows XP users still decline to “upgrade”?

Microsoft says high prices have been the deterrent. Last month, the company trimmed prices on retail packages of Vista, trying to entice consumers to overcome their reluctance. In the United States, an XP user can now buy Vista Home Premium for $129.95, instead of $159.95.

An alternative theory, however, is that Vista’s reputation precedes it. XP users have heard too many chilling stories from relatives and friends about Vista upgrades that have gone badly. The graphics chip that couldn’t handle Vista’s whizzy special effects. The long delays as it loaded. The applications that ran at slower speeds. The printers, scanners and other hardware peripherals, which work dandily with XP, that lacked the necessary software, the drivers, to work well with Vista.

Can someone tell me again, why is switching XP for Vista an “upgrade”?

21 Dec 2007

Upgrading From Vista to XP

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Coding Sanity, like many, is improving his new PC’s performance by “upgrading” in the direction of the past.

One really has to marvel at what an organization with the financial resources and human talent at Microsoft’s disposal is able to accomplish.

there appears to be no contest. Windows XP is both faster and far more responsive. I no longer have the obligatory 1-minute system lock that happens whenever I log onto Vista, instead I can run applications as soon as I can click their icons. Not only that, but the applications start snappily too, rather than all waiting in some “I’m still starting up the OS” queue for 30 seconds or so before all starting at once. In addition, I have noticed that when performing complex tasks such as viewing large images, or updating large spreadsheets, instead of the whole operating system locking down for several seconds, it now just locks down the application I am working on, allowing me to Alt-Tab to another application and work on that. I am thrilled that Microsoft decided to add preemptive multitasking to their operating system, and for this reason alone I would strongly urge you to upgrade to XP. With the amount of multi-core processors around today using a multitasking operating system like XP makes a world of difference.

In addition, numerous tasks that take a long time on Vista have been greatly speeded up. File copies are snappy and responsive, and pressing the Cancel button halfway through actually cancels the copy almost immediately, as opposed to having it lock up, and sometimes lock up the PC. In addition, a lot of work has gone into making deletes far more efficient, it appears that no more does the operating system scan every file to be deleted prior to wiping it, and instead just wipes out the NTFS trees involved, a far quicker operation. On my Vista machine I would often see a dialog box from some of my video codec’s pop up when deleting, moving or copying videos. No more, now all that is involved is a byte transfer or NTFS operation.

Automatic Updates has also gone through a performance facelift in that it no longer hogs your bandwidth when you’re surfing, a nice touch. …

To be honest there is only one conclusion to be made; Microsoft has really outdone themselves in delivering a brand new operating system that really excels in all the areas where Vista was sub-optimal. From my testing, discussions with friends and colleagues, and a review of the material out there on the web there seems to be no doubt whatsoever that that upgrade to XP is well worth the money. Microsoft can really pat themselves on the back for a job well done, delivering an operating system which is much faster and far more reliable than its predecessor. Anyone who thinks there are problems in the Microsoft Windows team need only point to this fantastic release and scoff loudly.

Well done Microsoft!

Hat tip to Karen Myers.

06 Feb 2007

A Very Unattractive Vista

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Michael Geist, in the Toronto Star, points out some things about Microsoft’s new Vista operating system, which are enough to make me think twice about my future OS plans.

For the past few months the legal and technical communities have dug into Vista’s “fine print.” Those communities have raised red flags about Vista’s legal terms and conditions as well as the technical limitations that have been incorporated into the software at the insistence of the motion picture industry.

The net effect of these concerns may constitute the real Vista revolution as they point to an unprecedented loss of consumer control over their own personal computers. In the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the “user experience” from the user.

Vista’s legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user’s knowledge. During the installation process, users “activate” Vista by associating it with a particular computer or device and transmitting certain hardware information directly to Microsoft.

Even after installation, the legal agreement grants Microsoft the right to revalidate the software or to require users to reactivate it should they make changes to their computer components. In addition, it sets significant limits on the ability to copy or transfer the software, prohibiting anything more than a single backup copy and setting strict limits on transferring the software to different devices or users.

Vista also incorporates Windows Defender, an anti-virus program that actively scans computers for “spyware, adware, and other potentially unwanted software.” The agreement does not define any of these terms, leaving it to Microsoft to determine what constitutes unwanted software.

Once operational, the agreement warns that Windows Defender will, by default, automatically remove software rated “high” or “severe,” even though that may result in other software ceasing to work or mistakenly result in the removal of software that is not unwanted.

For greater certainty, the terms and conditions remove any doubt about who is in control by providing that “this agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights.” For those users frustrated by the software’s limitations, Microsoft cautions that “you may not work around any technical limitations in the software.”

Those technical limitations have proven to be even more controversial than the legal ones.

Last December, Peter Gutmann, a computer scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand released a paper called “A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection.” The paper pieced together the technical fine print behind Vista, unraveling numerous limitations in the new software seemingly installed at the direct request of Hollywood interests.

Guttman focused primarily on the restrictions associated with the ability to play back high-definition content from the next-generation DVDs such as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD (referred to as “premium content”).

He noted that Vista intentionally degrades the picture quality of premium content when played on most computer monitors.

Guttman’s research suggests that consumers will pay more for less with poorer picture quality yet higher costs since Microsoft needed to obtain licenses from third parties in order to access the technology that protects premium content (those license fees were presumably incorporated into Vista’s price).

Moreover, he calculated that the technological controls would require considerable consumption of computing power with the system conducting 30 checks each second to ensure that there are no attacks on the security of the premium content.

Good grief! I can just imagine how many programs will get removed by Defender.

30 Jan 2007

Vista and Office 2007 Available Today

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Microsoft announces the release of new versions of its flagship products.

Preston Galla of PC Word has 15 reasons to switch to Vista.

But Mike Elgan of Computerworld has some compelling arguments as to why you should wait to get Vista already installed on your next PC, or just switch to a MAC.

31 Jul 2006

Vista Voice Recognition Demo Goes Awry

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Failed demos are really embarassing, aren’t they?

Ambient noise? what ambient noise??


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