I have been using computers since the Apple II and the Tandy 100.  I have marveled at the evolution of the operating system and the increasing capabilities that have come with that evolution.  I have delved into the inner workings of each version of Windows since […]

Vista_logoApple_logoI have been using computers since the Apple II and the Tandy 100.  I have marveled at the evolution of the operating system and the increasing capabilities that have come with that evolution.  I have delved into the inner workings of each version of Windows since the ’95 days and fallen in love with the windowed interface and multitasking that it has enabled.  I have embraced the innovations that appeared with each new package of Windows and how it made my work easier and faster.  I have been an advocate of the Windows operating system for so many years and am out of sorts as I find myself becoming more frustrated with the current version of Microsoft’s OS with each passing day.  This frustration has grown the last two years and is even more of an issue given my experience running OS X alongside Windows.

I have long been an advocate of Microsoft’s products, from Windows to Office and even Windows Mobile.  I personally know many Microsoft employees who are all great people, totally dedicated to producing the best products they can.  Every time I write something considered negative about Windows or other Microsoft products I am assailed by those who call it bashing and anti-Microsoft but that is not the case.  Some of the technology I consider the best in the world is here strictly because of the innovation that Microsoft has brought to the table.  My favorite things are firmly Microsoft’s and I thank them for producing them.  I still find some of the most gratifying tasks I perform are the sole product of the good work that Microsoft has done.  Every time I pick up a Tablet PC and work away I thank Microsoft for that technology.  When I ink a complicated mind map or outline for an extensive project I marvel at how easy it is and also fulfilling to do even though detractors trivialize this technology that Microsoft has produced.

When I point out my frustrations it’s not bashing, it is a genuine desire to see the things that cause them to get addressed.  At the end of the day I just want to get my work done and also have fun when appropriate.  The frustration sets in when Windows gets in the way and makes it more of a chore than it needs to be.  The situation is worse because that happens every single day in one form or another.  I just want to sit down and do what I need to do and when the tools get in the way and actually impede that then the frustration mounts and mounts.  That is what I find happening on not just a regular basis but a continual one.  Even my favorite pastime of sitting down with my Tablet PC often turns into an exercise in futility as I fight the system to let me do what I need to do.  That is just plain sad to me given how much time and effort I have put into working with the tools that now grate against my nerves.

I repeat, I am not Microsoft bashing, I realize that a lot of the problems I have with Vista getting in the way of my work are not even Microsoft’s doing.  It is often the background tasks performing anti-virus, anti-spyware,  anti-malware or similar functions that get in the way of getting things done, and those might not even be Microsoft’s products.  I certainly don’t blame Microsoft for the need for such tools, that blame lies firmly with the jerks that create the malware that causes the tools to be mandatory.  But they are mandatory, a sad commentary on the situation so when they prevent me from getting my work done the frustration is there no matter who is at fault.  I also understand that Microsoft has to make the OS be all things to all people no matter what they do or how they do it.  That causes the need to have the system do all sorts of housekeeping in the background to protect us from ourselves.  Again, why Vista gets in my way is not important if you get right down to it.  It’s how I can’t just get on with my business when I need to do it.  That is so frustrating and such a common occurrence that it’s out of hand and driving me batty.

A lot of these negative experiences are caused by the hardware or the drivers to make them work with the OS properly.  That’s not Microsoft’s fault either and I don’t blame them for that.  It doesn’t really matter who is at fault because my point is not to point fingers or lay blame.  But I do feel that this whole situation has gotten worse with Vista and again, if it prevents me from having a productive (and satisfying) work session then who cares who is to blame.  It is what it is and I think many users have come to terms with the thinking that that’s just the way it is.  Even when we feel this way we just keep on going and live with it.

I am also not an Apple fanboy, although every time I write positive things about OS X I get accused of being one.  I also get the same accusation when I write negative things about Vista, I’m sure I’ll get accused of that here.  The simple truth is I am not a fanboy, there are many things I don’t like about OS X and other things that I think Windows does better than the Apple platform.  But using a Mac alongside my Windows PCs for over a year now makes one thing perfectly clear- the Mac does not frustrate me like Vista does.  I am not exaggerating when I state that something happens with Vista every single day that frustrates the heck out of me and that rarely happens with the Mac.  Yes, I have experienced some hardware problems with the MacBook Pro I use but no more than with other PC hardware I’ve used in the past. Sometimes hardware breaks no matter who makes it.  When I analyze my heavy computer usage, and it can easily get up to 18 hours a day, the Mac experience never frustrates me like Vista does.

When you get down to the simple basics the user experience is everything.  It impacts productivity and efficiency and determines how a given platform impacts your ability to get things done.  The Mac with OS X wins that battle hands down, it’s not even close.  It is so seldom that something happens on the Mac to frustrate me by getting in my way of performing the task at hand.  I am not saying that technically OS X is superior to Vista nor am I saying that the Mac hardware is any better than that on the PC side.  I am stating emphatically that the user experience is far better on the Mac side and it’s not even close.  That’s all that matters when you get down to the bottom of this thing we call computers.  How well it works the way we need it to when we need it to.  And the user experience with Vista is not even close in my view.

Sure I could turn off the Vista background tasks, stop using the advanced features integrated into the OS like file indexing, pre-fetching, auto-updating, etc.  I know those account for a lot of the frustrations using Vista but hey, if they are so negative then they shouldn’t be activated by default in the OS.  Plus, why should you have to turn off big chunks of the OS to get it to work properly?  I haven’t disabled anything on OS X and it works the way it should out of the box.

I know that there are many specialized tasks that are much better done on the Windows side.  I’ve worked with them and they blow the Mac side away.  I don’t do those regularly though nor do most people.  I am a technology writer who works heavily with both platforms, bitextual if you will, and I am more productive and get a more gratifying experience on the Mac.  That’s what I hope Microsoft is addressing in the work they are doing now on Windows 7.  I need something to rival what I get on the Mac.  The ball is firmly in Microsoft’s court here.

  1. Sounds like some one needs a dose of whatever it was Microsoft was slipping those poor folks in their coffee at Project Mojave. ;-)

  2. This is long on generalities and short on specifics and therefore a polite rant but a rant nonetheless. While i find vista slow on older machines, it is at least as easy to use as OSX, which is also a good product but far, far from perfect. What made your blog useful was the specifics particularly being a mobile user. Thx

  3. 1) Try running OSX on UMPC or tablet hardware and see how Spotlight impacts overall performance. Comparing MacBook Pro specs to ultra-portables running Vista specs makes backround processing entire separate topic. WHEN Apple offers low-spec hardware running OSX comparisons will have validity.

    2) Auto-updating ANYTHING is for users too indifferent to bother controlling their OS. Nothing MS puts out can’t wait a day to run when convenient. Those who choose letting OSX run their equally frequent updates as backround processes are universally the same experiencing issues (reference: MacFixIt.com after every OSX update).

    3) When (NOT if) OSX requires anti-virus sanity protection, that subject becomes moot. Smart Vista anti-virus products simply suggest updates and selected when with one click.

    4) Prefrecthing trades off few seconds loading for speed gains later.

    5) Hibernating eliminates #4 above.

    What high-spec PC laptop loaded with RAM running Vista is being used to compare MacBook Pro running OSX? Anything less is apples vs oranges.

  4. James I can not agree more. If you would have told me as recently as 2004 that two out of five of my PC’s at home would be Macs running OS X, and that more and more my Windows machines would be idle, I would have laughed.

    Hands down OS X is even more of a delight than Vista is frustrating and that says a lot. The overhead of working with my Dell Vista-based notebook, the crashes, the lock ups the just plain annoying-ware of it all is mind-numbing

    Capturing video, working with audio and creating podcasts, burning DVDs, and editing video are all home activities that I find delightful on a Mac.

    Even now, just for kicks I try some of these same activities on both XP and Vista machines and try hard to make my Xbox 360 the digital center of my household, but its just not like working with a Mac, not even close.

    I hope and actually believe that Microsoft will get things right again and things will get better with Windows 7 etc, but by then I will be more and more Mac entrenched.

    The Switcher campaign worked on me and I am really glad it did.

  5. it’s not fair to be critical of Vista & praise OSX when you dont do the samethings on each of them. you dont ask near as much out of your OSX setup as you do your Vista setup.

    if you could do everything you do on Vista on OSX instead you would run into the exact same problems. until the 3rd party software & 3rd party drivers you use are properly written they will hobble any OS.

  6. Ok, this will be an atempt to come with constructive critisism and I hope you take it as that.

    Please, in the future, could you try to put a little more substance in there? I don’t want to be mean (I like this site a lot), but all you do is stating that you’ve been using products from mac and apple for a long time, that you don’t dislike any of the companies, that it isn’t microsofts fault that vista is frustrating at times and then you go on saying that you aren’t bashing or beating down on anyone. And you do it a lot of times although it was pretty clear the first time you said so. But, what do you want to say then? What is the point of the article? Pointing out that there’s pros and cons of all the OS’s and that the ones in vista mostly ain’t the fault of microsoft? Why not throw in some examples of what frustrates you? Why not add your experiences with linux? Why not analys what makes you frustrated? Why not add some thoughts on how to make things better?

    I know you guys can do better. This article, to be francly, was almost content-less and a waste of time.

  7. I agree with Bill. If you give us some specific examples then we might be able to help. Otherwise it becomes a bit meaningless.

    For instance, based on earlier posts, I assume you’re using OneCare. Depending on your setup I don’t think antivirus is always necessary but if you disagree then you might like to try Nod32 as an alternative. It never nags you and has a very small footprint. As for antispyware, etc. I find that Windows Defender just runs in the background and it never bothers me.

    Now to drivers. Under certain circumstances people did have lots of problems with drivers when Vista was first released. This certainly isn’t the case now and maybe you should spend some time checking that you have the most up-to-date versions. Of course, without specific examples it’s difficult to know what problems (if any) you’re having that are driver related.

    Since Vista was released you’ve made a number of references to how much you dislike it but your posts are always vague. Perhaps you should consider not writing about what you don’t like until you can demonstrate exactly how Vista is preventing you from getting something done. As far as I can tell you hate Vista just simply because you hate it! Given the lack of detail it’s not surprising that people might think you’re behaving like a fanboy.

  8. Used to use a Toshiba M400 Tablet PC running Vista, 2Ghz Dual Core CPU, 2Gb RAM, 200Gb 7200RPM drive. Does a lot of things well but sometimes it’s so slow. I have Outlook and IE open all day at work, I close them both down and even after a fresh install there is nearly a minute of mindless disk thrashing before it comes to a halt. I shut the lid, 20 seconds later the machine is finally asleep. Open the lid and it’s disk thrashing again even if it only slept 30 seconds ago.

    Just bought an MSI Wind clone, stuck OSX on it, you have to do some dodgy hacks to get it to work, but when it’s running it’s day and night compared to a machine X times its power. I have Entourage and Firefox open all day. I close them 10 seconds later and they are both done. I close the lid, before my finger has lifted from the lid of the screen it’s asleep. Resuming it’s back on screen even before the HDD has finished spinning up, why does Vista have to take so long?!

    I really think MS should make the OS more modular so that it can better fit the machine it’s running on and the user who is using it.

  9. Lots of generalities and not much specifics. I really like the site but this is just lazy journalism.

    I’m so, so tired of the useless Vista bashing. And yes it’s bashing. You have offered no specific instances where Vista fails compared to the MAc OS. Nor have you tried to offer alternatives or possible solutions to your readers.

    Almost every frustration in Vista is simple to overcome. I’m on holidays using a GPRS modem to connect to to internet (on an HP Mini-Note) and have no problems, no slowdowns and no system interferance as I have bothered to change a few simple configurations and settings to ensure an easy and enjoyable user experience. And it took a whole 5 minutes. If you, as a power user, can’t be bothered to set up Windows to behave as you want then it’s your own fault.

    Automatic Uptates can be set to notify only, superfetch can be turned off, indexing can be on low priority. I have no A/V as my exchange server scans my emails for me.

    WIndows is built to serve a vast variety of users and is vastly configurable as a result.

    Let’s start seeing some articles that will help users set up their machines so they perform at their best. With your experience you should be able to do that.

    With respect…..


  10. Wow it seems like the responses are often along the lines of …”All you got to do is xyz and windows is great”

    Unfortunately most people do not want to do XYZ they expect it to just work.

    And then we all ask for specifics, someone gives us specifics and then we ask them for more specifics? How many specifics do you need?

    Those of us that are gearheads somethings think the general public wants to do what we do to make something “optimized” and productive, when in reality most really do not.

    You can put up charts all day comparing photoshop rendering times or pricing differences etc etc, when all of that does not mean a hill of beans to most users.

    Its the user interface, the user experience and how many annoyances you have to deal with that dictate the user experience, not how cool it is to “set up and tweak” your computer.

    IMHO herein lies the issue that MS is facing and why Apple is gaining share.


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