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To Vista or Not To Vista?

It seems like an easy question, doesn't it? As a member of the technology press, with both the experience (I've been present in the industry since the introduction of every version of Windows since 1.0) and a distinct technical bent, it should have been a no-brainer that I would be running Windows Vista as soon as it became available through my MSDN subscription.

But other factors come into play that makes it a much more difficult decision. First, I would have to get a new computer, or at least upgrade memory in one of the older ones. Despite what you may think, the technology press does not get ready access to the latest hardware advances (at least, not like we did in the 1990s). I have three systems with 512 MB of memory (two are my own; one provided by FTP), the minimum required memory for Vista. Knowing how slow these systems run other memory-intensive applications, and also knowing how cavalier Microsoft is with minimum system requirements, I am loathe to even attempt to run Vista with the minimum memory.

But none of these systems have the graphics horsepower necessary to run Aero with any level of resolution (the best has a 32 MB graphics card). That would be a much harder limitation to correct, as two of my systems are laptops. From an individual standpoint, one of the primary reasons for moving to Vista would be for the graphics.

But once you have Vista, it is unclear what applications actually work, and how well they do so (http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2062318,00.asp for an entertaining summary). In particular, it seems like some debugging scenarios can be broken due to the Vista's security profiles. Of course, developers are able to run Visual Studio 2005 SP1 and the .NET Framework 3.0 on XP systems, so they aren't significantly restricted in developing Vista applications (but if your goal is to run Vista, using XP doesn't satisfy that goal).

Over the last 20 years, I have been among the first to run just about every Windows operating system. I think that stops with Vista. Certainly every new OS bumps up the hardware requirements, and I've made the investment for that hardware in the past. What is different now is that there is little for the individual user to justify that investment. And there seems to be more than its fair share of incompatibilities and issues with existing applications.

No doubt most or even all of these problems will be worked out in due time. And I'll upgrade to Vista, also in due time. But not today.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 11/26/2006 at 1:15 PM


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