Vista: Windows ME’s Successor

(Apologies if this seems a bit ranty, but it is a rant, so…)

About a month ago, I decided to buy a new computer to use as a home theater PC and backup file server. I opted for a Shuttle, and with it came Windows Vista Ultimate. I had already used Vista a little bit at this point, but not on a day-to-day basis, so I decided I would give it a chance.

It’s a month later and I’m ready to wipe the partition. Vista is Microsoft’s latest greatest failure. Not since Windows ME have I seen an operating system cause so many problems.

Crashing Applications

Let’s start from the base case: Running your applications. Sure a lot of third party programs are marked as being incompatible, but would you expect your device manager or notepad.exe to run without problems? You might be wrong. It turns out a lot of people, myself included, experience crashes in several pre-installed and third party applications. Sometimes it’s while you’re using it, but often just quitting the program causes Vista to think it has crashed.

This makes for an unusable operating system. I have no idea if the program I’m about to run will survive more than a few minutes. The computer is essentially useless, and there’s nothing I can do about it, aside from installing another OS. Now, maybe Service Pack 1 will fix this problem, but it never should have been a problem in the first place. Extensive testing should have caught this. At the very least, my manufacturer should have seen this and never shipped Vista with this problem.

Vista UAC

The Vista UAC, or User Account Control, is Microsoft’s answer to the security problems that plagued previous versions of Windows. It’s brilliant in that it creates an excellent illusion of security, aggressively prompting the user for any action involving the system.

The main problem with UAC, though, is that the user is being bombarded with dialogs. Now, think about what happens when you encounter a dialog. Often times, you don’t read it, you assume what it’s saying, especially if you’ve encountered it before. I know of several non-techy people who blindly click dialogs, and that’s where UAC falls apart. There could be a virus on the system and the user, having had to click through these dialogs time and time again, may not realize that this virus-activated UAC dialog was not caused by their own actions and click through it.

Some people have no idea what goes on in a computer and assume that if the system needs to do something, there must be a good reason for it. Since the UAC dialogs are a bit cryptic at times, I can see users thinking, “My computer wants to do this, it must have a good reason for it!” and proceeding to allow the operation.

The UAC dialogs are also pretty verbose. If you perform a file operation in a system directory, you’ll get 3 confirmation dialogs. The first to confirm you want to do this in a system area, a second to ask if you want to go to the admin confirmation screen (why, I have no idea), and a third to confirm that the whole operation is allowed.

Now, think about when you create a directory. You’re performing two file operations. First, the initial creation of the directory and second, renaming the directory based on the name you gave it. This common operation will punish you with six dialogs!


There’s more I could say but I won’t. I’m really looking forward to Vista SP1 with the hope that it will fix a lot of these problems, because as of right now, this is a really unstable, frustrating OS. I think it has potential if they can get these problems sorted out, though.

6 thoughts on “Vista: Windows ME’s Successor”

  1. I’ve recently installed Vista on my iMac, having dual-booted XP before. So far, I haven’t experienced any crashes in Vista. Besides UAC, the only annoyance I’ve found is when starting games, Vista thinks the game is hanging when I click before the game has fully loaded.

    Are those crashes reproducable? If not, I suggest testing your hardware. As I don’t get random crashes while using Vista, either something’s wrong with your hardware, or certain drivers or applications are acting up.

  2. One of the large problems with vista is also the “vista compatible” stamp that microsoft likes giving people permission to use. After vista was released people found a LOT of hardware around that was marked as vista compatible, that either had drivers that worked poorly, or didn’t work at all.

    Now that might not be a problem if you have very standard hardware (although nvidia has had stability problems for long after vista’s release), but it would be a big problem on non standard stuff you might find in say.. a shuttle box?

  3. I’ve been using Vista on my gaming machine almost since release now and I’m using it as my primary OS on my laptop. That said, I still use and prefer Linux (GNOME) as my main desktop environment.

    In terms of stability, Vista is leaps and bounds ahead of where XP was after release.

    Sure, it was unstable at first, due in most part to nVIDIA’s graphics drivers, but those have now been fixed and perform reasonably well. With respect to bundled apps crashing, the only crashes I have encountered that weren’t my own fault (i.e. accidentally opening a huge binary in notepad) have been with Windows Explorer. I get the feeling that it’s thumbnailing is a little buggy. Still, I’m fairly confident that this will be fixed in or before SP1.

    The only thing that really irritates me about UAC is that it doesn’t compile multiple dialogs for a single high-level operation in to one. Aside from that, the ridiculous regularity of UAC dialogs can be mostly attributed to 3rd party developers requiring Administrative access when they shouldn’t (Battlefield 2142 needs it due to Punkbuster, this is not on). Once 3rd party developers start writing their programs so that they can operate in a reduced privileges environment (which they should have to start with) things will ease up.

    I urge you, and anyone trying out Vista to compare it’s security and stability to XP at its release, not XP now. If anything, Vista is the new XP – and look how well that did.

  4. Nah, Vista isn’t Windows ME. People didn’t upgrade to ME and then downgrade back to 98 — they just hated it.

    Vista is more like New Coke.

  5. Stuart Parmenter

    Just disable UAC. It causes way more problems than it solves. Disabling it was the first thing everyone running vista recommended to me when I recently installed Vista64. That said, I’m having no real problems with things crashing randomly

  6. My friend just got a new laptop with the vista approved tag on, which imo should garantee hardware working? Im a linux geek so i opposed the installation but he wanted it. What he wanted to to was to play the game openarena on it using his wlan card atheros bg something. He could play about 20 s then had lagspikes as hell and 60-70 ping, i sat beside him with my laptop with intelcard wifi in linux and had 0 lag and 30 ping on the same connection. I did a thourough research about the card on the net and found out that everyone running vista had the same problem…. tried all of the purposed fixes nothing did it. Even browsing in vista was catastrophical. allthough he had dual boot on the machine and with xp and atheros all worked nicely… I used to run vista on my intel machine for 4-5 months ago, all horrible… ok its still in development but DONT PUT TAGS ON NON WORKING HARDWARE THEN?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! at least in linux u can choose if u want to run the devel version or stable… and its free… scary…

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