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Monday, April 28, 2008

On Windows Vista, Linux, Compatibility, and More

I saw an article today discussing compatibility issues with Windows Vista and older software. There haven't been enough real visits here for me to know, but judging from the stats I have from the site and the other blogs, almost no one but me has made the move to the new OS. And there's really no reason (excepting price) that you shouldn't.

Vista is far superior to XP in many ways, but mainly those that probably first come to mind as "what [you] would like to see." In fact, Vista is a little too advanced in many ways, unless you're made of money. Were I to set my monitor to the suggested, or "optimum," performance resolution, I couldn't even read what I'm typing! I would seriously need a 50" monitor just to make it worthwhile, but it would let me see a fly's penis. Well.

And don't get me wrong, I had the same concerns when shopping for a new box and the salespeople were - as usual - less than knowledgeable, however helpful they tried to be. However, I remember that XP had a little-used feature called "Compatibility Mode" which allows you to run any program as though it were running on the preferred OS - theoretically. In actuality, XP would rarely let you install the program in the first place, in order to give the Compatibility Mode a shot. I tried several times to get it to run basically anything - just to see it work - and never managed to do so, but others may have had better luck.

And for you Penguinheads, Vista actually gives Linux a run for its money (so to speak), if for no other reason than compatibility. I love Linux - love it - but let's be practical: Linux just isn't. Practical, that is; almost no programs are compatible and it's 95% certain that the programs you use most often are not supported by Linux. And while Penguinheads love to extol the virtues of customization and how this program and that one are actually so much better than the market standard and/or the one you're most familiar with, the truth is that Linux is made for nerds/geeks (like me), not end-users. Which is a point I've made - and have been making and will continue to make until it is resolved: computers are supposed to make things easier, not harder - especially repetitive tasks. No matter what you do, Linux has a learning curve that is above and beyond what most people have the time or inclination to invest.

But going back to the example of visuals, I don't think Windows will ever stand-up to Linux in that regard. It's been 10+ years since I've been on a Mac (and I don't have the right adapters for the ones I have here, and they're both 10+ years old, so...), but if you're so inclined, drag-out the oldest monitor you have laying around and hook it up to a Linux box: it's like watching HDTV! I don't know what, how, or why Linux is capable of such impressive graphics when it cannot make a modem connect to the Internet without having you jump an unicorn through a flaming hoop, but there it is.

That's one of the things about Linux that's such a turn-off: it goes so far out of the way to be different that it makes itself obsolete. Not to mention the fact that, unless you're a total geek like me, it's simply a hassle; Linux is a hobby, and nothing more and until it lessens that learning curve and offers more dynamic programs and compatibility, that's all it will ever be.

The bottom-line is that Vista is a superior OS to all previous Windows platforms and it stands firmly against Linux for the simple reason that you can actually use it for more than just tinkering. And despite the popular notion to the contrary, I have had surprisingly few troubles.

One major problem occurred during a power outage, which caused my Outlook Express to crash. An expensive and unproductive "tech support" call to my OEM resulted in a free computing lesson for the English-challenged tech who had the misfortune of fielding my call (which ended in an "accidental" hang-up when she "put me on hold to check with her supervisor") and a two-day wait for Microsoft e-mail support (Hell-o? How the fuck can I receive e-mails if my client refuses to load?) resulted in my downloading Windows Live Mail which makes AOL look and feel like a small app and works almost as well.

I managed to troubleshoot the problem on my own, but ti was by no means a task a novice could accomplish. Nor a trained, Bangladeshi phone tech support person. Nor a Microsoft tech, for that matter! In fact, I'll have to find the exact error in the KB and tell you how I fixed it, just in case. But that's a post for another day and - look at the time! It's another day, already...

Anyhow, go ahead and make the leap; don't believe the hype; Vista is a stable and viable OS, superior to XP and all other flavors of Windows since 98. Just avoid the whole Live package; my computer's literally slowed to a crawl since installing it and I haven't used it but for a moment.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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