Vista: Why Bother?

Opinion: If your operating system isn't broke, why 'fix' it?

A friend of mine was recently considering Vista for serious video editing work. He was told, by Microsoft people, that he should wait until the applications had been optimized for Vista before trying something as ambitious as that.

For what he had in mind, hed also need one heck of a hardware upgrade: 4GB of RAM, a 512MB or greater graphics card, and so on. He wondered if instead of waiting and upgrading before he could really get much out of running his Madison Media Softwares Sony Vegas family of high-end video editing software, if he might not be better off going Mac and using Apples Final Cut Studio.

Or, he also asked, "Why deal with any upgrade at all if the current setup works?"

Good question. Damn good question.

If what youre running now works for you, why should you move up to Vista?

After all, according to a study by Softchoice, 94 percent of PCs do not meet the system requirements for Vista Premium. It sounds to me like my friend isnt going to be the only one facing a major hardware upgrade.

Theres also the question of what exactly you will be running on your Vista system, anyway. Mike Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, questions whether even a majority of the 1,000 applications that Microsoft is claiming as "Vista applications" were developed specifically for Vista, rather than simply being products that currently run on Windows XP and that should also run on Vista. I find it particularly telling that Microsofts general manager for Windows client product management, Brad Goldberg, told Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley that Microsoft would not publish, as it had for XP, a list of applications that dont work with Vista. "We have no plan for publishing a (Vista compatibility) list," said Goldberg.

The reason for this is probably that this would be an embarrassingly long list. Ive also found many mainstream applications that will either not run at all or not run well with Vista.

On top of that, software being software, we can be certain that Vista, as a major 1.0 release, will have teething problems. This is after all, an operating system with nine options for how to turn off your computer. This feature, I might add, according to one of its developers, took 24 Microsofties over a year to create. So its probably safe to say you can expect some serious growing pains with this baby before its ready for prime time.

But, lets step back from Vista. Should you be buying the latest and greatest anything, if what you have is still working?

My friend has decided to stay with XP. It does the job. It doesnt require him to spend time learning anything new.

This isnt just about Vista, or even software. If your car or washing machine is still running well, do you replace it? Would you replace your car if a new one required you to learn a new way to turn it off?

I also had another friend who wanted to update from openSUSE 10.1 to 10.2. Unlike upgrading a system from XP to Vista, which can be a real nightmare, this is a very simple upgrade. The bottom line is you just install one over the other. Almost no fuss or muss.

But, it is some trouble, so why bother? openSUSE 10.2 is an excellent Linux desktop. It is not, however, a major step up from openSUSE 10.1. If youre a techie that loves the technology for its own sake, then youll upgrade anyway. But, if you want to read e-mail, browse the Web, get work done and all that day-in and day-out stuff that most people use a PC for, theres no real reason to upgrade.

And, thats really the point. Even if Vista were gloriously perfect, I really dont see any good reason for most users to upgrade to it.

Now, Microsoft is already telling us that we should upgrade as soon as possible, and, while were at it, we should also move up to Office 2007. Im not buying it. Im not buying it for the same reason some friends of mine gave me for not upgrading from Office 97: Its not broken, so they dont see any need to fix it.

If what you have works for you, then you really dont need to upgrade to Vista, or for that matter, anything else. Theres a lot to be said for sticking with what already works best for you, and dont let any vendor tell you otherwise.


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