Vista

A week after the Microsoft Launch of Windows Vista and I can only remember a couple of the new features on the latest PC OS. I did take notes though.

When speaking of operating systems most users even power users don't really know what's "under the hood" that makes it better or if it's needed. Sure we hear the claims faster more secure and other subjective terms. Not enough. Even if it is faster or more secure the thing that sells will be the user experience. Sure Vista will spread but much of it may simply be the OS that comes packaged with the new computer; instead of XP. The rest will be what other software will force upgrades to Vista. There are a few features of Vista that are notable though not necessarily note "worthy".

Gadgets The first is the use of gadgets which are mini-applications or services that take their space on the desktop. While tauted as the latest improvement in Windows it's really no more than another application that could have been developed within or for Windows XP 2000 or maybe Windows 98. It need not be tied to an OS. Being the cynic that I am I view gadgets and gadget technology with the same scepticism as Browser toolbars or other background applications (spyware) that services require you run to be able to access some other service. With the demo of the Travelocity demo it doesn't take a cynic to see where gadget technology will take you to new levels of spam.

Alt-tab Another much publicized feature of Vista was the switching between and the visual display of programs running by pressing Alt-Tab. While it does show off some nice graphic effects after a couple views I just yawn. That feature however does have some deja vu associated with it. Wasn't there an XP powertoy that did something like that? And there's a similar Firefox plug-in that does that for their browser. Not so new after all.

Search The indexed search system in Vista is really a nice feature something that really is needed. They did a good job on this one but I still wouldn't qualify this feature as an operating system feature. Any application could generate an index of all common files on the system and search from it; several graphics and audio packages do this. Running it as a service that monitors all file operations and it could keep the index synchronized. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if someone did create such an application. Shucks I might even try my hand at that.

I'm still wondering where an OS upgrade benefits me. The toys don't impress me and there doesn't seem to be any new thing in the way it better operates the computer for the user. And there is one area that does need some attention fonts. What will impress me is better handling of fonts.

Fonts - an OS issue Yes I find it somewhat disturbing that after a decade of Windows they are still using much the same font registration and loading system to use fonts in Windows applications. I've seem many font utilities that can display and use fonts loaded from font files. There's no reason that Windows can't employ a similar system for loading and use font files. Now that is an operating system issue. Of course if that did happen that would be groundbreaking.

Enron Technology That's not to say there weren't any OS features added. In Vista Office and Exchange "Enron Windows" has been expanded. If that technology had been in place during Enron we might still have an Enron and all the corruption that it embodied. While the technology has valid benefits and can secure a company's confidential and proprietary information it can also be used to bring white-collar crime to a new level. Not only can emails be wiped from the systems of every computer in the company wi-fi can reach out to other systems.

In short it appears that Vista is just another version of Windows. But then I haven't used it so it's too soon to tell. Unfortunately I don't have a reason to get it so it will be some time before I can report my first hand experiences and that's the point.

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