Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just when I start thinking vista can't be that bad it assures me it is...

Recently I was thinking how long it would take before I cave into the peer pressure of all the computer users of the world and finally make the move to Vista. But Vista being the bastard child of operating systems it would seem constantly gives me a reminder of why it's a bad idea to give it a shot even after SP1. After reading this list I have decided that there are just too many fundemental things I can't live without mostly in the realm of customization. To put the matter simply I have always enjoyed window's philosophy of allowing the user to work as they want rather than dictating their work flow as is the Apple philosophy.

So without further adeu here's a list of features in XP that aren't in Vista that I simply can't live without. Antonnated with my comments of course.

Shell
  • The File Types tab has been removed from Folder Options.
  • It is not possible to override AutoPlay by pressing the SHIFT key
Ok I might be the only one that needs to go in and put custom file handlers in my menus every now and then but seriously your hurting all your power users by removing these two. When I'm inserting a potentially dangerous CD I used to be able to rely on holding shift to bypass auto-installs apprently this feature was too complicated to include into vista.

  • [Explorer removed] the ability to customize the standard toolbar's layout and buttons.
seriously? I have completely changed my toolbar layout there's cut copy paste as part of mine as well as delete, moveto copyto... etc. Why are you going to dictate a once sized menu fits all? Are we getting Apple envy here? Trust me windows users don't like being told we have to work within the restictions of some arbitrary design descisions just because it makes our menu bars minimalistic and follows some dumb founded asthetic.

  • The "Status" bar no longer shows the total space used by a folder
Provide less information to the user? Why...

  • The RunAs feature in the shell has been replaced with "Run as administrator", and no longer allows alternate credentials
This wouldn't be much a problem if Administrator worked like sudo in linux. Fact is it does not too much of the RunAs is profile dependent thus not being able to shift credentials is frustrating. In a multi user system it's not unheard of to RunAs a lower privallaged user with another account just to check to see if certain software breaks. Without this it's frustrating and I would have to enter the user's accounts to fix their problems. Or worse temporarily escalate their privallages to administrator in order to perform the fix.

  • Dragging and dropping a folder or file into a Win32 console window no longer pastes the path of the folder or file.
Some idiot at Microsoft forgot that people used the console still. To be honest the console they included in XP isn't all that bad... they've been trying to bury it ever since win95 but cmd.exe still has some features that can only be done there.

Network
  • Can not browse a domain structure. All computers on the network are displayed in a unified list. The list can be "filtered" to display only computers from the desired domain
This totally baffles me, Flat network architecture just doesn't make sense. Everything in networking is hierarchical. Vista in all their wisdom decided to fire all their network techs and get their humanaties department to design the network view here.

Audio
  • Since Windows Vista features a rewritten audio stack and does not inherit the Hardware Abstraction Layer for audio that was present under prior versions of Windows, there is no hardware acceleration of DirectSound and DirectSound3D APIs. DirectSound is emulated entirely in software. As a result, hardware acceleration and 3D spatialization utilizing DirectSound3D is no longer supported.
I decided to copy this line directly here to point out something quite serious. Too much of Vista is not so much an OS as it is a virtual machine. Hardware needs to run fast and efficiently. If my audio card has hardware direct 3D I'm not going to be happy when the supposed upgrade removes this feature. Essentially I just paid for hardware that I'll never access now. I don't think you can argue this one in any logical way not allowing hardware acceleration when previous versions of windows did is just plain stupid. This is not the same as hardware makers not porting their drivers no Vista just doesn't have support for DirectSound and might never will!

  • The ability to customize the Windows startup sound has been removed.
You can't be serious about this one! I can't begin to tell you how stupid this one is, it's equivalent to all macs having the same mundane "dong" sound when they start up, many mac users have wanted to change that one. It's more excusable in that case since the sound is built into the BIOS so it's harder to change. I see no reason for any modern OS to not allow changing of the startup sound.

Startup Shutdown
  • There is no progress bar indicating the hibernation status on Windows Vista
On a 2GB ram machine hibernation takes about 20-30 sec... Not having a progress bar isn't a real confidence giver.

  • Although it is possible to customize the action Windows takes when the hardware Power button is pressed, it is no longer possible to set power options to ask the user every time what action to take upon pressing it (currently a make or break feature for me)
I have this on, on every XP and Linux machine, On laptops it's expecially nice to be able to just push the power button and then tell your computer to standby while other times tell it to actually shut down. It also prevents accidental shut downs due to the button being hit by accident. The only argument I can see for removing it is the same idiodic logic that apple uses. I.E. our users are too stupid to realize they need to select an option after they hit the power button.

  • Sound Recorder in Windows Vista can no longer open audio files. Moreover, it cannot save in lossless (uncompressed) WAV format when run without using any switches; instead, it saves in lossy 96 kbit/s WMA format.
Sound recorder must support standard WAV. No exceptions.

So as you can see Vista has yet again gave me many more reasons not to make the switch. Some of these reasons are just aggravating other's are just plain essential and break Vista for the power users that have grown accustomed to them. For the most part though it does feel like Vista is taking away more than it's giving back. I'm not saying that XP is fantastic but, it has stood the test of time and it has been refined. However if an OS upgrade is in my horizon and the one linux machine on my desk is any indication the rest of the XP's will be migrating to the linux enviroment as Microsoft has finally gave me a reason to jump ship.

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