2007 is almost history. What is the biggest tech story of the year? I have heard some suggestions either from blogs or podcasts, but the two main issues seem to be Windows Vista or the iPhone. The RIAA, and DRM is also a steady constant in the tech press. I would have to give story of the year to Windows Vista.
Microsoft places more copies of Windows in user hands through PC sales than any other operating system vendor. Microsoft sees sales figures that Apple and Novell could dream of seeing. Add into that the hobbyists, gamers, and PC builders to the numbers of new Vista users and those figures go up and up. Windows Vista will impact more users this year and for many years on than the iPhone.
What has Microsoft given us, the public?
Windows Vista has numerous features that were designed to help improve the overall user experience. Whether or not it actually does that is up to whom you ask. The first mistake was the release of Vista is six different versions. Four of those versions are vailable for retail purchase through OEM or as a software box. There is really no need for six versions of any operating system. A professional and consumer version would have been just fine for most folks. Perhaps an a la carte approach to operating system features could have been better. The price is another issue, considering what the consumer gets for their money. Windows has always been very expensive when purchased as a retail box. The OEM copies one can get online do weigh the costs of a retail purchase, but the price is still ridiculous. Two hundred dollars for a full retail copy of Windows Vista Home Basic, ninety nine dollars for an OEM copy or retail version. The 'Home' versions of Windows Vista are really feature limitied. I cannot recommend them in any way, and the best way to get Vista is on a new computer. Microsoft gives the OEM PC manufacturers a big break on Windows, why should the consumer get in on that savings?
The UI in Windows Vista is completely new, and much prettier. I hate the Windows XP interface, it look way too much like K-Mart. The first thing I do with XP is enable the Windows Classic theme and remove the 'Bliss' wallpaper. The biggest piece of aggravation in Vista is the User account Control (UAC). That prompt which asks you for a password, or to click 'continue' when attempting an administrative task. I think the security team took the course of design, because from a usability standpoint, the UAC doesn't work. I am the only one I know of who does not disable the UAC. Disabling UAC, cuts the secure legs out from under Windows Vista all together. The Vista Start Menu does have an integrated search feature that does find items much faster than the useless Windows XP search tool. The business and ultimate editions of Windows Vista have an integrated version of the Windows Server 2003 'Shadow Copies' utilitiy. Shadow copies allow a user to recover a lost or deleted document from a previously made copy. The cost of Vista Business or Ultimate will pay for itself the first time this feature is used. Along with these new features comes a significant overhead in resource consumption. Vista NEEDS more RAM and CPU cycles. Older computers that are currently running Windows XP will most-likely need a hardware upgrade or two in order to run Vista satisfactorily. Microsoft has long since had a history of guiding the user's hardware requirements through software. Many will say Microsoft is in 'koohootz' with hardware OEMs to force users into buying new computers on a periodic basis. Others argue such is the progression of computer development. I would agree as such, but question the scope of the software's development. Aside of the few feature I mentioned above, Vista does not offer upgrading users any advantage over Windows XP.
The 64-bit versions of Windows Vista are the most secure versions of Windows to date, but the security comes at a cost of practical unusability. Very little software and hardware is designed to work with the 64-bit versioons of Windows Vista. For now, 64-bit is the provence of hobbyists and bleeding-edge gamers. I believe through Windows Vista, Microsoft is seeding a new generation of users that will not adopt later versions of the operating system. Windows XP has found a new lease on life with scores of frustrated Vista users 'downgrading' en masse in an attempt to get existing hardware/software to work. This may not all be Vista's fault, but a factor of in-experienced users not properly working out the potential issues with upgrading. Mac OS X 'Tiger' users are feeling the same heat with the current upgrades to OS X 'Leopard' . Another idea I have is that Microsoft has no clue of what their consumers want. I could be totally be wrong , and Microsoft just does not care. 'Design be Committee' seems to be how products become finalized in Redmond. Look at the Microsoft Zune, version one of the product absolutley stunk. Future iterations of the Zune look to be improved and closer to the mark. Maybe Windows 7, Vista's scheduled successor, will be just a closer.