March 07, 2008

Microsoft is in trouble on the client

I'm coming to the conclusion that Vista sucks.  I've played with it on a second computer since the release candidate days, but haven't relied it as my main machine, so I withheld judgment.  Until now.

Some of you IT professionals are like me.  Your laptop is so integral to your work and life that you have it with you nearly all the time.  You use it for normal office stuff, specialized network management functions, line-of-business software like Shelby or ACS, web browsing, instant messaging, VOIP, hobbies, worship graphics, editing audio, photos, and video, syncing with your PDA ... the list is nearly endless.

Five weeks ago today I took delivery of a shiny, new Dell D830 laptop with Vista Ultimate pre-installed.  I applied SP1 as soon as Ian could get his hands on it.  When I get a new laptop, I don't just grab it, log on, and start using it.  I move on to it.  It's practically like moving to a new home.  In the past five weeks I've installed and configured more than 30 software packages and moved many gigabytes of data.  I've explored and decided on dozens of operating system preferences.  I've installed drivers for a digital still camera, digital video camera, outboard sound device, Windows Mobile cell phone, and various printers.  Let me tell you, I've put this thing through its paces.

I'm shocked at some of the decisions made by the product managers.  Example: why would they downgrade the defrag and backup programs?  Seriously,  how could I have Vista Ultimate and have less capability than I had in XP Pro in any area?

How could they break compatibility with so many routine applications from PDF generators to downloaders to photo editing software, forcing you to run in compatibility mode, set up an XP virtual machine, or upgrade the software?  (I cut them slack on low-level things like anti-virus, but not routine applications.)

How could they think it makes sense that can't in certain circumstances delete a file I created on my desktop without running the delete operation in an escalated privilege mode?  (To an unsophisticated user it appears that the OS won't let you delete a file you just created.)  Or, for another example, how can it be possible that I could create a file on the laptop under Vista, move it across the network to a Vista desktop, and yet not be able to pull it back to the laptop due to some kind of obtuse security issue?  It's me on the laptop, it's me on the desktop, but I can't routinely move files back and forth?  Come on, Microsoft.  That's ridiculous.

I'm also shocked after five years between desktop OS releases, and now more than a year later with the debut of SP1, that I'm having annoying instability with certain features.  By now you'd think they would have dock/undock, sleep/wake, and hibernate/unhibernate working correctly.  You'd think that they would have Sync Center/Active Sync perfected. You'd think that they would have switching between wired and wireless networking down pat.  You would be wrong.

Having been through all of this, I can officially say Vista sucks.  Am I going back to XP?  No.  That would be WAY to painful at this point.  So I go forward.  Since I'm not going back to XP, why the rant?  Unlike most end users, I look at software not only for myself but on behalf of the user community I serve.  The bottom line is I have decided we will be a late adopter of Vista for our end users.

There are things I definitely like.  Some things are slicker and/or more stable.  Since this is a rant, I'll save those compliments for later.

And then there's Office 2007.  Why did they think it made sense to have a document close button in Excel but not in Word?  Why did they think it made sense for me to have to customize my button bar just to get the quick print button back?  And how could Outlook 2007's UI not match the rest of the suite?  Amazingly bad stuff.  I mean, did Bill G ever personally use Office 2007 on Vista?  I can't imagine he would let this happen if he did.  But I digress.

What happened to Microsoft?  Where did they lose their way???

Discussing this with Ian, he reminded me that at the same time they have lost their way on the client side, Microsoft has been doing some incredibly good stuff on the server side.  I have to say he's right on that.

And then, before I could even press Publish on this post, word comes from Mix that Microsoft is on the verge of some major advances in the web area.  Maybe Microsoft as a whole hasn't lost its way.  Even so, why can't Vista and Office 2007 just make sense and work?  Is that too much to ask in the year 2008 with brand new, high-end hardware?

End rant.  Feel free to comment and disagree.


Shellie Bayne said...

I do not disagree at all about Vista. It's a lemon. Pure and simple. However, Office 2007 hasn't frustrated me quite as much.

Mike Mayfield said...

I totally agree with everything you said about Vista. I have not had the nerve to load it on an actual machine and only messed with it in a virtual setting. I have to admit I have not tested it as thoroughly as you have either, but I am not impressed with what I have seen.

Office 2007 has not been as much of a problem for me but we are in know way ready to deploy it across the board on the network. It is supposed to be more intuitive but I don't agree for the most part.

Deviant Monk said...

I've only used Vista briefly as well, but I've read a lot of reviews on it, including this one, and I couldn't imagine ever wanting to use it.

And although many may think me to be a Mac fanboy, there are things about Leopard that, at this point, compel me to not upgrade to it as well. In fact, up until one of the recent update releases, upgrading to it would have rendered some of the software I use inoperable. So much for 'just working.'

Anonymous said...

It's ok for me. I have been using Vista for about 9 months now. I find that it runs better on a striped disk array. It is alot slower than XP. More hangs/crashes than XP. The big thing about XP was the OS would continue to run even if an app. would freeze. Not so with Vista. I have had many full freeze/crashes of the OS. Lets see what Microsoft does with Window 7, maybe Vista will be another ME.