I have the attention of computer geniuses

As such, I want opinions. Y’all know so much about them, so I need enlightenment from you smartypantses.

Everyone seems to hate Vista. Tell me why. I want to know what I have to look forward to and also how likely it will be that I’ll be switching back to XP.

How is Vista’s security? Because XP Home security sucks, so I’ve been running Pro, and I really don’t know how much better that is than Home.

Does Vista have any improvement at all over XP? And why does everyone hate it?


30 Responses to I have the attention of computer geniuses

  1. Vista is a memory HOG. Programs get bogged down much more quickly compared to XP (Business) or 2000 (which is what I use on my desktop).

    Anything with Microsoft will have security issues.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I got Vista on my new tablet because the tablet functionality is supposed to be much better in Vista than XP tablet. Overall, I actually like Vista. What drives me crazy is compatibility issues. Lots of programs that run just fine on XP run poorly or not at all on Vista.

  3. David Marcoe

    Vista has a solid built-in firewall and fewer security flaws than an un-patched/out-of-date version of XP. A copy of XP with all the current patches and service packs, however, is a different animal entirely. In fact, a fully patched version of XP, with a good third-party firewall and virus scanner, is probably about as secure as Vista. It also has better performance across the board. The same applications, head to head, will be faster on XP. The final clincher is that some of your current applications may not work on Vista.

  4. David Marcoe

    To Add: is probably about as secure as Vista…with a third party firewall and virus scanner.

  5. Francesco Poli

    They hate success, and Microsoft is the single most successfull company on the planet in any industry in the history of everything. Just look at the billion dollar fines from the EU just because Microsoft doesn’t want to give away free their hard-earned intellectual property and trade secrets, or how Clinton tried to split the company up much for the same reasons.

    XP had much of the same complaints Vista has now, most of them either nitpicks or stuff fixed in one or two service packs.

    As for security, get a router, block all the ports except the few ones you do need (if any, unless you use eg P2P or consoles you can keep ‘em all closed), keep the OS updated, don’t click on weird stuff, and even freeware antiviruses are good enough to keep anything out.

    Most security issues are due to people outright refusing to do even the slightest to protect their PCs, and that’s why Microsoft had to slap spyware removers and firewalls over their OS, however small their effectiveness is. (If it was higher, they’d get sued for unfair competition. That’s life for Microsoft. Hell, that’s life for anyone enjoying even moderate success.)

    And make no mistake: within a few years, we’ll all be running Vista, and we won’t be whining about it.

  6. I actually don’t ‘hate’ Vista. I just prefer XP. I do agree with the above posters but I used Vista from January to February of this year before switching back to XP and honestly the only reason I did is that a good number of the programs I wanted to use had issues running in Vista.
    So, pretty much what Jeffery said. The one thing I really do miss about Vista is the sidebar on the right side of the screen, there are a ton of neat little applets that you can run on the sidebar that I really enjoyed and do miss.

    Overall give Vista a few service packs and all the whining should stop.

  7. Sarah–
    I have Windows Vista & like it a lot because it is faster than XP. I’m not really savvy about programs, but the only problem I had was that my old greeting card program wouldn’t work any more. I was listening to Kim Komando on the radio last week & she said that she likes Vista & that it works great for her, but the down-side is that a lot of programs won’t work with it & she answered a caller’s question about Vista asking him about what kind of printer he had. So evidently sometimes printers won’t work with Vista.

  8. Okay – here’s the deal.

    Vista has some major compatibility issues with older peripheral equipment. If you do go to Vista – you may not be able to use your printer or scanner, etc if they haven’t got a driver for them yet. This is the mega-huge issue!!!

    The same applies to any older applications you might use. Although that’s less likely with a home system. The peripheral issue has been the one causing home users the most problems. But many offices have found they can’t port older programs to Vista and that’s a real problem for them.

    Also, it is a memory hog. There have been major issues with it bogging down during large scale copying. If you don’t have lots of files to copy, you might be alright. I heard (whether it’s right or not is still in the air) that SP1 for Vista has solved some memory issues. But I haven’t heard from anyone using it that they are running better.

    Another real problem most people find, when they have been used to the old way of doing things is that so much was changed on Vista. In other words, you will likely have to read the help files to get a wireless connection up and going – that kind of thing. The “lay of the system” (so to speak) is different. This means, things you used to do without thinking about, require a concerted effort to relearn. Lots of people hate that.

    You may want to email Pam (pamibe) and get her take on stuff. She changed to Vista and has gone through the “growing pains”. Vista also means you will need to go with the new Office stuff and that has been totally changed and is driving many people to tear out their hair. The new tabbed layout is okay for those who haven’t used the old methods much – but for experienced users it’s been a royal pain – to put it very very mildly.

    Be aware though, that a system built for using Vista may not let you revert to using XP without major work on your part (digging out drivers for certain things that XP doesn’t carry – this is true for new things like built in sound cards on computers). In other words if it has a new motherboard built with Vista in mind.

    As for security. I never use Windows security. I always use the Zone Alarm firewall, Spybot, and AVG virus… the free version for home use. I have yet to have a problem. Although I don’t know if they have Vista compatible versions yet.

    Hope this helps some.

  9. I think a lot of it is fear of change. For me, I don’t really like Vista all that much. It’s not THAT much different than XP, but it’s got a few changes that just don’t make any sense.

  10. Well I have Vista on my laptop and so far my two biggest problems are these:

    1. It IS a memory hog. You’ll want to go through and shut off a lot of the nonsense start up programs it seems to come with.
    2. I can’t get it to save my settings upon reboot (ie. toolbars, tapping on the mouse, etc).

  11. My main complaint is exactly what Teresa said about major compatibility issues with older peripheral equipment. But manufacturer’s sites usually have drivers ready for download. So far I’ve gotten everything working, but I am missing a few hairs…

    I actually like Vista and like working with it… the GUI has changed, but stuff is mostly in the same place and works the same with minor differences. The new Office is the same… for me. I’m not a power Office user.

    The REAL problem lies with the windows media player that ships with Vista. It would not recognize – nor import, like XP would – Digital Media Rights for my music. All mp3s that I had purchased were lost to me. Everything I’d ripped was fine, of course.

    Those were the two major things for me. It hasn’t been a memory hog for me, but if you want blinding fast, simply tweak it by turning off things like the Aero goodies. I turned mine back on because it’s pretty. :D

    Much luck!

  12. Vista isn’t really that bad it’s the combatability (sp) that people don’t like. I use a program that requires me to be in Windows Classic Mode to use it so it’s like Im only using regular old window. You have to learn what icons mean on the tool bars but overall I have had no problems with it.

  13. I have not used Vista except in the beta version and like everyone has said there are compatibility problems and a lot of bugs they need to work out. And it is also a memory hog using their new video drivers. I think you can shut them down and it will work fastr, but I did not use it long enough to mess around with it that much. I think it will probably be a good OS after a year or so where they get the bugs out of the system, like all MS OSs it is the bugs that they do not work out before they sell the product. And security is a lot more than just what the OS has to give. Vulnerabilities are all over every OS. IF you use a router along with a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware you should have no problem. Just go thru the anti-virus and anti-spyware checks every week or so and you will have no problems.
    I would suggest getting one of the free anti-virus and spyware programs, they get all the information form the same place and do not take over the computer like Macafee or Norton. At least I learned one thing from my Computer classes I took, if you can get it for free it is usually better.

    And f you want it more secure run one of the Linux OSs which do not have as many viruses or spyware yet.

  14. If you have lots of music, you may want to think of burning it to CD and then ripping it to the new Vista box instead of trying to transfer. Don’t know if that would work or not. You might also google “importing DRM music to Vista” and see what fixes you can find out there. I’m betting some uber geek has come up with something. ;-)

  15. Y’all are the best, but you knew that!

    RE: Vista being a memory hog… I’ll have 2.5GB. Is that enough? Because that’s the max my computer will take…

    RE: Incompatibility of drivers if I do switch to XP. Is this peripherals only, or does it also mean the computer’s own equipment, like the scroller and such?

    RE: Security. I’m more concerned with physical security (passwords), because I run Teresa’s recommended antivirus etc. and our wireless network is WPA encrypted. If someone busts into our house, I don’t want them to be able to grab my computer and hack through to my info. I’m probably kidding myself that xp pro is any better than home on this.

    RE: Programs. Did I understand correctly that Office 2003 won’t run on Vista? Office is so expensive, but I basically can’t function without Excel.

    Teresa, thanks for the info on music (and everything else, of course). I will burn my purchased music to CD just in case. I like to do that anyway just so iTunes doesn’t tell me I can’t burn a playlist more than x # of times. I’m really good at scratching CDs, so I need to be able to burn a playlist a lot. Also, after a year of not playing my iTunes music, I lost tracks I’d purchased, and I thought that kinda sucked since I paid for them. They were still on the machine, but iTunes had decided I wasn’t authorized anymore.

    pam, I like my hair! So I’m glad I asked first. ;)

    Stix, I can speak from experience: Free food always tastes better. So I believe you when you say it about stuff. :)

    Erica, the not saving settings thing would have me bald. I’ll have to see if it does that to me.

    Thanks for all the info, y’all! Mwah!

  16. If you arelookingfor analternativefor MS Office, there is a free open source Office suite. it is called Open Office. It hasallthe same programs andcan readall MS files also. It should be available for Vista.

    If someone gets ahold of your computer, no amount of security can stop them from getting into it. Password or not,they could easily get into it by bypassing the security of the computer. All they need to do is take out the hard drive and put it on thier own and read whatever is on it. And passwords are easy to crack with programs, there are a lot of them out there.
    The easiest way to make sureno ne getsyour files isto encrypt them,but that can also be cracked,but not as easy as just a login password

  17. To answer your new questions in turn:

    1) 2.5 GB should be enough. I’ve found that Vista is usable with 2 GB of RAM. Anything less than that and things get a little… interesting.

    2) It’s usually peripherals, but not always. If you’re curious if your hardware measures up against Vista, Microsoft has a rather useful tool that you can find here.

    3) As Stix pointed out, if someone grabs your laptop, you’re hosed, and it won’t matter what operating system you’re running in that scenario. As a general rule of thumb, the instant someone has physical access to your system, you’re done. That said, Vista does do a little better job at handling multiple user accounts and restricting their rights than XP Home. I have noticed some malware installations on Vista, though; anecdotally, it seems to be about as secure as XP Pro, for better or worse.

    4) Microsoft Office 2003 has received the “Works with Vista” logo from Microsoft, meaning that it should work. You can find a full list of applications that Microsoft thinks works on its operating system here.

    From where I’m sitting, if security is your prime motivation for upgrading to Vista, I wouldn’t bother unless you have a bunch of people using your computer. It’s only marginally better than XP Pro in that regard, and most of its benefits are only apparent in an enterprise environment anyways. Past that, just do a little research – does your laptop check out against the Windows Vista Compatibility Adviser? Does the manufacturer of your peripherals have drivers on their web site for the hardware you have? Is the software you use on Microsoft’s compatibility list? If everything comes up clear on that front, knock yourself out.

  18. I hate Vista because it’s not XP. There was no reason to bring it out aside for MS to make money (which would have been better spent fixing XP) and, most of all, I hate change.

  19. no advice to share– never used it– linux only here

  20. No One of Consequence

    Nothing to add about Vista, but you were running XP on a laptop with 256MB memory? That might explain some of the issues you were having. Memory is cheap these days (just got 2GB from newegg for $40), so if you’ve still got the Vaio, you might drop some additional memory into it (keep it around as a spare).

  21. Have not used Vista.

    But I have to say this….

    No one has come up to me and said “You HAVE to be on Vista!”

    I am the de facto IT manger for a 8 seat firm.

    We are SBS 2003, XP Pro, and MSOffice 2000.

    All work at an acceptable levels.

    I would not move to Vista unless forced. To that point I am purchasing PCs and laptops from the secondary market, because I don’t want to have to learn Vista until I need to.

  22. Oatworm, I have no motivation for moving to Vista. My new laptop comes with it.

  23. Looks like Oatworm got the rest of your questions about compatibility.

    They’re right about the security if your laptop was stolen. There has just been a proof of concept shown where a hacker can use a USB port (in other words MUST have physical access to the system) to break the password barrier with little effort.

    There are products to encrypt on the market. It’s been a while since I looked at them. Some would encrypt the entire hard drive – others will encrypt individual files or directories. Encryption does come with an overhead so it’s a toss up as to whether it’s worth the time loss.

    If you took your laptop out with you all the time, had trouble with local robberies, and maybe had even had one stolen in the past, it might be a consideration to encrypt the entire hard drive.

    I know there’s also a product out there – if your laptop is stolen, when the person goes to reboot it… it will format the hard drive. I’ll have to find out the name of it – I only just heard about it last week and since I don’t carry a laptop I didn’t pay close attention. Heh – figures that would come back to bite me.

    Oh – last thing. Open Office – I have no idea if it works with Vista. Also, if you are a power Office user… some stuff does not work the same on Open Office so it would be a different learning curve.

  24. I actually liked Vista just fine, to my surprise after all the fuss. Thing is, I built a P4 3.2 GHz with lots of RAM and bought a retail edition of Vista Ultimate. I would never have bothered, but for the idea I ought to have played with it and have a machine with it to test on and look at if clients needed help with Vista.

    On the other hand, I never had the trouble everyone else claimed to with Millennium, though it *was* a silly release for MS to have bothered to do.

  25. As far as the security questions, if you do not have encryption, the data is there for the taking. If you have stuff you would not want others to access, take a look a PGP. They have the de facto standard encryption software out there and parts of it are free. One word of caution with encryption, when it is gone, it is gone. I would suggest using pgp zip files instead of encrypting your whole machine because it is quicker and actually safer (unless you do password preboot with the encryption). The bottom line is, if you get physical access to a machine, you have a very good chance of getting the data.

    I am not sure what AV suite they suggest, the are all pretty good. The major challenge is to not go places where you pick stuff up. Vista’s main security upgrade is a little message that always asks you ‘Are you Sure’ before you do anything to the system. They are so far behind on this it is not even funny, both Mac and *nix have this function and have had it for awhile. You can get the same thing by running in a limited account and only changing to an admin account when necessary. Use Firefox or Opera (most security professionals suggest Opera) and that will help secure you against some of the IE flaws that may come to light.

  26. Ah – I’ve seen the Vaio with Vista. It’s a pain in the rear, and it’s not Microsoft’s fault – Sony has a rather nasty habit of installing all kinds of random crapware on their systems. My personal favorite is the “Wireless Profile Assistant” or something similar; it’s a “tool” that Sony includes on its Vaios to allow you to keep connection information for multiple wireless access points simultaneously. There are only two problems with it:

    1. Windows already comes with that functionality.
    2. It’s buggy and frequently causes wireless connections to fail.

    Consequently, if you find yourself unable to reliably connect to wireless networks, the first thing I would do is just remove that particular tool from your machine through the “Programs and Features” control panel.

    As for encryption, well, all encryption can be broken. It has to be – if it couldn’t be broken, well, how do you decrypt? The most you’re doing with file encryption is slowing down the inevitable should your laptop get stolen. The good news is that it might slow things down just enough for you to call your bank, credit cards, and all that and let them know to cancel your online accounts. The bad news is that, sooner or later, all that data is getting cracked. It’s just a matter of time and determination. That said, Windows has included a method for file encryption since the Windows 2000 days. Just right-click on a file you want encrypted, click on the “Advanced” button, and choose “Encrypt Contents to Secure Data”. Of course, that’s more to keep other users on your computer from accessing your files, but it’s still a step in the right direction. You can get more information here.

  27. VK, you’re not drinking the change Kool-Aid Barack’s selling? ;)

    Oatworm, I’m glad that Vista says it works with Office. I love Excel. I mean love it. It’s a little sad. I’m actually replacing my VAIO with a Gateway and can’t say good riddance to VAIO fast enough. And thanks for all the info. You’re an encyclopedia!

    Teresa, ok, I thought I was being a little naive about security. Turns out I was! Encryption sounds like work. ;) I’ll definitely want the real Office. Excel is one thing Microsoft does right.

    Sil, Linux is for nerds! Just kidding. Frank’s talked several times about building a Linux system. Wait. He’s a nerd…

    Lou, yep, I’m being forced because it comes on the new machine. But if I can’t make it be my friend, I’ll switch back to XP, though it sounds like that will be a beast.

    NOOC, um… yes. I have been. But I have been for four years. It’s only the last year that the computer started rebelling against that, but I’ve had so many physical issues with the computer, most relating to the power. Sony builds a very flimsy machine, and if you tap it just right with a feather, something is likely to break. But yeah, you’re right. Lots of overheating in the last year. Even with a good chill pad. But Frank’s Dell has only 256, and it doesn’t overheat like the Sony. My new one comes with 1GB of memory, and I ordered an extra 2GB, so I’ll use .5 of the original memory and the extra 2GB. So I’ll have .5 left. If the memory I’m taking out of the new machine is compatible, we’ll add half to my old one and half to Frank’s so his will run faster. Or we may just add it all to Frank’s. Either way, great idea. And if it’s not compatible, we’ll order new memory.

    Jay, 3.2GHz makes me swoon.

  28. DC, always Firefox here. I only use IE if I’m making blog changes and need to make sure they work in IE. I’m actually pretty good at not picking things up. When I run AVG, it never finds anything…

  29. Try downloading a copy of ubuntu and burn it to cd. You can boot it and, as long as you do not install it, it will not mess with your hard drive, but you can read stuff off the hard drive (it has more trouble with NTFS than Fat32). It comes with firefox, thunderbird, openoffice.org and many other useful programs.

    Microsoft does have an encryption program but I would still go with PGP because…

    a) The NSA complains about it
    b) It is opensource (allowing people to review the code and hack it if possible)
    c) all the hackers I know use it (or gpg, the fully GPL’d version).

    On the downside, Microsoft is known for always writing bug free code and allows community reviews… :-)

    Either one, though will keep most people out of it, PGP is almost just as easy and a lot more secure (use 1024 Bit key).

  30. To get rid of your old hard drive, I would suggest that you download Ultimate Boot CD (http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/) and run a program on it called Darik’s Boot and Nuke. It should get rid of all your data.