It does NOT suck.
If you read some forums or blogs, you'd think that Vista crashes daily and eats your kids for breakfast. A quick Google search reveals that, at this point, it's become fashionable to bitch Vista out.
Vista, in fact, does NOT suck. Those people are smoking crack. Or they are not using it. It's a pretty good upgrade to XP (itself a great OS) and is definitely up there in comparison with other operating systems. So let's address some of the criticisms.
Why it's a great upgrade to XP.
XP is a good and stable OS, but it is showing it's age. For instance, to run XP in any sane manner, you have to install a bunch of software, like Google Desktop, various utilities, etc... All this just to start being productive. In Vista, you are one key strokeaway from being productive. You press it and you are at the command prompt, being able to access/run/search whatever you want on the computer. Just this one feature is such a gigantic productivity win that everything else pales by comparison. The integrated search really, really works well and seems to have been designed by someone with a very good sense of usability. No need to install Google desktop anymore.
Why else? The OS just looks great, is pretty snappy and is pleasant to use. The eye candy, is just the right level and does not do any superfluous tricks like, say, Compiz Fusion.
Other noteworthy items:
- ReadyBoost - You already have a spare USB key, so pop it in and see some real speed up. I ended just buying extra RAM because I need to run VMs, but it's nice to know that the feature is available.
- Media Center - Ok, you could get it for XP, but you had to get the Windows XP Media Center Edition, which was dumb and a pita. With Vista, all the goodness is in the box.
- All the stuff you don't have to install - How about never having to install a proprietary photo application? The built in Photo Gallery is sweet; better integrated than any 3rd party photo management application I've ever seen and certainly better than iPhoto on my wife's MacBook. Lot of people don't realize that, for the first time, Windows comes with a set of truly usable utilities: Calendar, DVD Maker, Movie Maker, Voice Recognition, etc...
- Device support - Some devices still don't have drivers, but the built-in ones are simply awesome. For instance, on Windows XP, I had to install a 300 MB driver for my wireless HP printer, which no doubt, included a lot of crapware. With Vista, no new drivers were required and it literally picked my printer out of thin air. Sweet.
The OS is really stable as a rock. I've been using it since February and it crashed exactly one time. I tried to see how far I can push the OS in terms of CPU and memory overload. I opened up hundreds of applications and pushed the OS deep into the virtual memory territory.
As you read some of the forums people bitch about a lot of shite, mostly because they don't know what they are talking about or are too lazy to google for the answer.
- Vista uses too much memory - Why shouldn't it all your memory? You got some other OS running on this box at the same time? Actually Vista caches your memory. In other words, it tries to anticipate what you are going to do and have it ready for you. Look it up - it's called SuperFetch.
- Excessive prompts/UAC - If it bothers you, turn the effing thing off. It bugged me, so after I while I nixed it. Then I read a note from Tim Sheath and I turned it back on. His trick allows you to keep some of the UAC benefits while never being bothered with a prompt again.
- Incompatible apps - Most of the apps I had, in fact, were compatible and I am a developer (thus I have a bunch of weird low-level stuff). If something does not work, most likely it can be fixed by running it as an admin user. Right-click, select run as Administrator.
- Too slow - No, it's not. Your computer is too slow. Vista is not meant to run on a 5 year old machine. Neither Gutsy Gibbon or Leopard or any other modern animal. You are going to need a new machine or at least some new components. As long as you want to see Aero, that is.
- Blah, blah, blah - It's been fixed via Windows Update. Like the infamous "Calculating time remaining" and the Control Panel disappearing act.
What sucks about Vista
That said, Vista could use some substantial improvements. I have a short list:
- The All Programs menu is sandwiched in 2 inches of screen real estate. I install a lot of apps and don't want to scroll 'till tomorrow to see the them. Let the menu fly free or come up with another paradigm. This is really my only UI related complaint.
- Vista already comes in 20 different editions. How about adding a "developer" edition which comes preloaded with all the tools developers have to download anyway (all the sysinternals stuff, reflector, NUnit, NAnt, popular vs addins, firefox, filezilla, paint.net, etc...).
- There aren't any good tools for developers to easily take advantage of the graphical glass goodness. MS released Blend, but I have to go to Photoshop school first to even begin to understand how to make a pulsating gradient. How about a snazzy API that developers can understand? Like, Button btnOk = ButtonFactory.CreatePulsatingGradient(), while somebody comes up with a brilliant tool to bring developers to the graphics artist level.
- The awesome potential of the combination of MediaCenter and CableCard technologies is nowhere to be seen. (This seems like a perfect application for a Mac Mini though). That's probably not Microsoft's fault - I am guessing the cable companies are probably dragging their feet on this, but still it sucks.
Overall, despite a couple of blemishes, Vista is pretty great.