Life is hard. It’s a lot harder when you’re ugly and nobody loves you.
That’s what it’s like to run a computer with Windows Vista on it. Nobody loves Vista. If you want to make Bill Gates cry, ask him about Vista. If he doesn’t slap you upside the head first that is.
When my old computer from Krazy Kenny’s Warehouse running Windows XP had slowed to a crawl and downloads could be timed with a sundial despite the high-speed internet connection, I put a bullet in the box (actually, I pawned it off to my younger brother where it lasted about a year before he gave up on it) and moved up to a bright and shiny Dell which was bigger, faster, stronger, better than what I had been suffering with and pre-loaded with the Vista operating system.
Not that I wanted Vista, mind you. It was more of a situation where it was already installed on almost every computer at Micro Center. It was a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal and I wasn’t in a position where leaving it was an option. I sighed deeply and pulled out the plastic. I was assured if I really hated Vista, it would still be possible to install its far more popular predecessor, Windows XP.
Windows XP was the American Idol of operating systems. It still is the most widely used operating system in the world. Released in 2001, XP has sold over 400 million copies and its market share peaked at 85.3 in December 2006. Most households and businesses are still running XP. Microsoft stopped selling XP in retail stores in 2008, but the system is still chugging along.
Vista on the other hand started off with high expectations which soon went unrealized because it wasn’t different enough from XP in ways that mattered and the ways it was different didn’t matter. CNET.com concluded in their review, “Windows Vista is essentially warmed-over Windows XP. If you’re currently happy with Windows XP SP2, we see no compelling reason to upgrade. On the other hand, if you need a new computer right now, Windows Vista is stable enough for everyday use.”
“Stable enough?” Control your enthusiasm, guys! Coming five years after XP, the expectation was Vista would fix all the nasty security problems that nagged XP among other things. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Vista was almost universially loathed upon its release. Microsoft had given birth to a baby that both stank and was ugly too.
I’ve grown accustomed to Vista. I don’t love it, but I don’t think it’s all that bad either. All things considered, I knew Vista was a red-haired stepchild when one of my co-workers just smiled sadly when I told him I had bought a computer with it installed and said, “The way you can tell if a operating system is any good is how many businesses install it on their computers.” When my employer decided to upgrade their systems from Windows 98, they chose XP over Vista. Ouch.
As it would turn out, Vista became the second most popular operating system, but Microsoft aims for global domination, not second best. The relative failure of Vista may not have hastened the impetus for 7, but it sure as hell became a priority to make it sexy and get it right.
Now that Windows 7 has been released and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive (mostly because it’s not Vista), I’m wondering if I should upgrade. I’m not the kind of guy who feels inadequate if I’m not rocking the bleeding edge of technology. Hell, I still own a camera that uses film and work out with a Walkman.
What tempts me is my big brother—the quintessential techno geek—LOVES Windows 7. He’s the kind of guy who spends a weekend formatting his hard drive for the fun of it. He installed Vista several times on his own computers and uninstalled Vista several times. He got his hands on a Beta version of 7 and it was love at first boot up.
With a buttload of tricked-out new bells and whistles and rave reviews proclaiming 7 as, “the best operating system that Microsoft has ever produced,” forgive for feeling like I’m stuck with the last six-pack of New Coke.
Maybe to go along with my wife’s laptop, I’ll get a copy of Windows 7 as well. At the end of the day, all any operating system does is maximize the computing experience. I’ll still get junk mail and I’ll still prefer Firefox’s browser over Internet Explorer. Windows 7 won’t make me thinner, taller or any sexier than I already am. It won’t even make me cooler. It might however make me stop looking at my present operating system like it morphed from Halle Berry into Whoopi Goldberg.