Which Vista Version? «

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Today Windows Vista is available to customers in seven versions, and I’ve had some friends and family ask which they should buy:

There’s two answers to this question, one for the geeks and one for everyone else.

If you’re not a geek

OS X Logo

Buy an Apple computer with OS X. Seriously. You’d have to buy a new computer for Vista anyways (this applies to you even if you bought a computer this week). The Intel-based macs are excellent machines, OS X is easy, reliable, and can do everything you want do with your computer. You can even set them up to run XP alongside OS X for that one last program you can’t get your files out of.

If you don’t want OS X because you’re a gamer, you don’t want Vista either. Just get a mac and a Wii.

If you’re a geek

Ubuntu Logo

You want Ubuntu Linux. It’s darn easy, it’s great on laptops, and you can make it sit up and do tricks. I don’t need to elaborate on this one: you know Linux is the hands-down best OS for geeks, and Ubuntu is a great distribution.

Either way…

I’m not going to be supporting Windows Vista for my friends and family. I’ve limped along with a little XP knowledge, but I’ve never used it for anything but testing and a few games so I’ve never really learned my way around it. I’ll put up with Vista professionally, but I won’t be able to help you solve the problems you’ll have with it.

And you will have problems. It’s built to have problems: the anti-piracy protections will have it lowering image and sound quality, turning off features, and disabling itself altogether if it decides you’re doing anything hinky, whether or not you are. Editing your home movies may trigger it to think you’re editing Hollywood’s movies, and it’ll lock down on you. You don’t want a product that’s defective by design anywhere near your important files.


  1. Ah! But Peter, you’re forgetting that Microsoft knows what’s best for your computer, not you! You need Vista so that you can know how to deal with new DRM files and all that goodness. Without Vista, evil music pirates will take over the globe!

  2. You’d have to buy a new computer for Vista anyways (this applies to you even if you bought a computer this week).

    Maybe you got the requirements wrong. My computer is more than a year old, it only cost me $1,000 when I bought it, and I’m writing this comment from Windows Vista with all the possible eye-candy turned on. Besides, if I already have Windows XP and I’m happy with it, why would I buy a Mac? Oh right, so I can’t use half my software collection ever again!

    I’m all for Linux and open source, but this is Windows bashing without any real substance.

  3. No, it’s not. The requirements for the friends and family I wrote this for are not the baseline requirements printed on the back of the box. You look silly when you write “without any real substance” and fail to rebut the other points, and the rudeness of your rhetorical question is unwelcome under the conversation guidelines here.

    I didn’t write this for everyone, or even for you. I wrote it for the friends and family I’ve supported the last few years and can’t continue to support with Vista.

  4. To the Windows lovers, good luck with Vista. When was the last time Microsoft came out with a new OS without any problems. Now, I am not a geek (wish I were) and at age 75 I am playing with a number of Linux distros. I am writing this on Debian. The point being, I have three old computers, two of them are dedacated to Linux Distros, and one to Windows. Now try and guess which one shuts down on my in the middle of something. I will never pay another dime to Microsoft, but I am and will donate to Linux.

  5. i’m a ubuntu user and love it ..the beauty of ubuntu is that you can run it on a old pc ( mine is a pentium 633 whit 256 ram of memorie ) and it run smooth , but if you have a newers pc then you can boost all the graphical option and get the same result as vista …
    i love linux …and mac..for the other a preffer to keep it for me …don’t whant to sound like a w@&*#*# bhaser ;o)

  6. 2 other awesome linux distros are sabayon and puppy. sabayon has an insanely cool 3D cube for a desktop which spins round with different sets of windows on each face, you can even go inside the cube and see them o the outside, make them transparent…. all very pointless but great eye-candy! And Puppy runs entirely in RAM, you put a live cd in and take it out once it’s booted, so it’s really fast even on old machines. you only need 5Kb RAM I think, 128 is recommended. I think you need at least that for open office. Just pointing out that Ubuntu is not the only cool distro!

  7. I want a mac!

    All this vista hoo-ha is getting on my nerves – and everyone thinks its a good idea to go and spend around £100-£200 on it?!

    The only advantage that I can see at the moment for getting vista is its pretty eye candy – and most of what I’ve seen is either availible in mac, adapted from mac or made to look like mac. It’ll be at least 6 months before any of the apps I use the most (firefox, windows live messenger and a music program called sibelius) will be released with an absolute garauntee that they are 100% compatible.

    There’s no question my pc won’t be able to cope with vista, with only 192mb ram and an 8gb hd it struggles at best with xp! LInux is promising but I really don’t think it’s worth resurecting this old dinosaur sitting next to me.

    I’m still at school and I only have £50 to my name – not quite enough to get a 2nd hand mac… maybe in another couple of weeks I’ll have enough. Of course, if anyone knows of a mac just lying around somewhere in England, I’d be happy to take it :)


  8. I’ve been using the Vista beta and RC1 for a little while, and I thought all the features were funky and got a bit hyped up by it. The price however is definately a stab in the chest, so I won’t buy it at least for now, and the beta shouldn’t stop working until June.

    I’ve actually uninstalled Vista when upgrading my motherboard; I was barely using it. If I can get my act together and mess around with my computers more I’ll probably try out a few Linux versions, I’ve got Knoppix around somewhere (another RAM-based version) and that looked fun.

    Unfortunately there is one thing that might have my ankle tethered to Vista – DirectX10 and gaming. I’m pissed that they’re somewhat restricting graphics hardware development with DX10 and making it more difficult (perhaps almost impossible) for a pseudo-DX10 for other OS’ to be used to run games.

    Either way now is not the time to get Vista. Maybe when corperate versions get cracked >:) or if my uni gets it and I can get a hold of their CD key again ^_^

  9. I found my way here via reddit. After skimming a bit, and being inspired by your newest post (as of right now) to write about Ruby in my own weblog, I stumbled on this.

    My first inclination was to recomment FreeBSD for geeks, rather than Ubuntu. Ubuntu seems to me to be more suitable as the open source OS for non-geeks. After thinking about it, however, I realized something interesting (to me):

    Ubuntu is becoming the de facto gateway drug for open source OSes. It’s where geeks who use Windows go when inching into that open source world for the first time, or at least it makes for an excellent candidate for such purposes. I guess someone already well enough versed in all things open-sourcey that hand-holding like Ubuntu provides would already know to use something else if so inclined.

    I guess, at the end of it all, what I’m really saying is that I thought I had something to say, but I don’t really. Um.

    Keep up the good work . . . ?

  10. I have been using Vista Ultimate and I think it’s pretty good. I do not think it is anything all that special when compared to XP but it is slightly more stable than XP. I’ve never been one to care all that much for “sleek” or “fancy” GUI’s because that stuff just saps your RAM. I will say that Vista is a bit easier on the eyes than XP but the fact is that the operating system is essentially still XP. Voice recognition is sweet in Vista as well as is the networking encryption. Again, it’s basically just XP with a new GUI. Vista is VERY easy to configure so you don’t have to deal with all the “security” features they’ve implemented. The information on this post is highly subjective to the writers inexperience with Windows. Don’t be swayed by people who seem to have an agenda to spite Microsoft. After all Apple puts out a new OS almost every year – you do the math, Macs are designed to extract the maximum amount of dollars from their customers pockets as frequently as they can and it seems that those who prefer Macs feel duty bound to pay Apple for their overproduced software. I shudder to think how all the old Apple chips are going to fare as time goes by.

    Once you get past the graphics and particulars of an operating system like XP, Vista or OSX you can run all the same processes and programs regardless of the machine manufacturer.

    If Mac is your thing – use it. If XP or Vista is your thing – use it. Both platforms perform equally. If you’ve got time to burn go with Linux, but I don’t recomend it. Linux is truly for those who like tinkering with an OS rather than accomplishing tasks that have an ultimate and predictable finish point – like working for a client or employer! Linux is a phenominal concept and a revolutionary movement, as it gets more developed I think it will become a viable option for those who work for a living with their computer. For now I will stick with Windows because I have thousands of dollars worth of programs from Adobe, Macromedia, etc. that do exactly the same thing whether your working on a Mac or a Windows machine in fact there are more programs available for Windows than there are for Mac but I don’t think that’s the critical issue. I think the critical issue is the way Mac is starting to make moves more as a corporate entity rather than the Mac of the past that made moves more for it’s customers – Mac is going “pop” and it’s just a bit too sickly sweet for me to stomach. To be fair, if your just getting started with computers get a Mac – they are designed for novices and the elderly, Windows is far too advanced an operating system for people who are slow or overly concerned with being “hip” – Macs are for computer enthusiasts, Windows and Linux are for the pros.

  11. I was still giving you the benefit of the doubt until this comment, NJAZ:

    Linux is truly for those who like tinkering with an OS rather than accomplishing tasks that have an ultimate and predictable finish point – like working for a client or employer!

    I use free unices (such as Linux and FreeBSD) in part specifically because it makes me more productive. I’m not the only one, either. Barring specific software requirements that mandate MS Windows use, engineers of various sorts often prefer Linux and other unixlike OSes for the productivity enhancing properties as well. At one point, I was the network administrator and IT resource manager of a corporation whose network was about 85% Linux systems, including workstations — and the vast majority of employees there would have it no other way. There was almost open revolution when the VP started talking about replacing the Linux-based QMail server with MS Exchange.

  12. I use some open source programs, Gimp and Open Office and I must say I am impressed and it makes me feel a bit schmucky for not just figuring out Linux and being done with brand associations such as Apple, Adobe and Microsoft. I’m certain that the configurability and dedicated community of Linux users and developers makes it the ultimate “pro” solution. My bias is that I’ve gotten so used to Windows (as Mac users have come to love their machines) that I have found a way to bend to conform to the closed source programs – in the end I’m just a bit scared to leave my comfort zone.

    I’m slowly coming around to my senses. I was going to switch to Mac not so long ago but I just couldn’t rationalize the time and money it would take to do so. Switching to Linux is the only switching I’ll do, and switch I will – I just need to muster the self respect and ambition to do it.

    I just want to say these are merely my humble opinions and I appreciate being included in the conversation … thank you!

  13. I have to get into this one. I have been using windows since back in 95, my first PC running windows 95 then I went on to windows 98, ME, and XP. At Work I used 2000 most of the time when we had PC’s. For most of this time I heard about Linux and Unix and well it was hard if you had no idea what you where doing with it. Back when I was in high school I heard of it and saw some machines running it but again I was used to using Windows 95. When I started going to college not long ago I was using XP and well you needed office to do most of your work, I messed with Linux a little but I was and still am a noob when it comes to Linux. I got more comfortable when one of our instructors got us into RH9 we did it for labs and we went over using the command in the Terminal, I got SUSE to try it out and yeah it was a good distro as well as RH but well so used to Windows that I did not continue using either. Recently I had an issue with my computer, well 2 of my computers, both died on me with in a few days of each others, finally yesterday I found after buying another Mobo that what had gone was my Asus board :( and potentially my power supply /sigh.

    So I bought a brand new mobo and CPU to replace the old one I had plenty of copies of XP since I normally buy new copies of it for every time I put a computer together and I looked at Vista as a possibility but after looking at the price I was like um not gonna happen as it is I payed $600 for a decent board, cpu and power supply. So I stuck with XP for that machine.

    My other machine that died XP crashed some how not the first time hehe I have had to reinstall all the Windows OS’s I lost count long ago. I did reinstall XP but I decided that I wanted to try Linux out also, so I partitioned my hard drive so I could try it out and I did some research.

    I found Ubuntu, man I started messing with it, live CD is great, so I started to look for more live CD’s a lot of the Distro’s have them and there great, the fact that it can be run from a flash drive is great, all you need is a Bios that will allow your Mobo to boot from USB and your set. And the live CD well it has it all, you want word its there you want power point its there and so on and so forth, and you can thank OpenOffice.org for this wonderful products, you don’t really need Windows office you can use OpenOffice which is free and even works under XP or the other windows OS’s.
    Now after messing with Ubuntu I found it great though a bit hard to use but that’s it if you want to go on beyond just your everyday things like email and internet and what not then there is a bit more work to do but there are always forums to go to and people in the Linux community are extremely helpful.
    And as far as Sabayon’s cube set up well they are using what is known as the Beryl project which can be run on most Distro’s I finally got it working on my Ubuntu its a great piece of work.

    Now the next distro that I would recommend is PCLinuxOS it is a great piece of work as well as Ubuntu, it has more of a feel of the Windows OS if you have not tried it download it, it also has a live CD like Ubuntu and out of the CD both are fully functional you can go online and everything and install the distro and still go online while it is installing. Word of warning do some research first and find out about the partitions you will have to create and what you have to mount. I believe that this one point is the first thing that some folks are turned off about. But all the Linux Distros have come a long way and they are great there is so many different flavors that you will find one you like. As far as most of the software is concerned there is most likely an equivalent program that runs under Linux and most likely OpenSource.

  14. Well, thanks to this post I am no longer using Vista Ultimate. I have entered the Linux phase of my computing. Thanks for the inspiration!

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