Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why not Vista?

This is a blog in response to question on my previous blog. The questions were: 1) Is Vista really that bad? 2) What is DRM infestation? Before I begin my reply, some standard disclaimers. I am not a Microsoft lover. So, there is definitely bias in my personal opinions. However, I will keep those to a minimum.

To answer the question of whether Vista is bad, you have to compare it to something else. We will stick to comparing it with it's predecessor, XP. However, the main reasons why everyone says that Vista is bad is due to:

A. Hardware Requirements
Vista requires you to upgrade your hardware. Minimum requirements are 1Gb RAM and DirectX9 graphics. To have decent Vista performance, 2Gb RAM is needed. To experience Vista in all it's Aero glory, a powerful DirectX10 graphics card is required. The new cards have started to appear recently. Some are cheaper than others.

We all know what minimum requirements mean. So, if you have existing hardware, it may cost you a bit of money to upgrade it, on top of the cost of Vista. If you're planning to buy a new computer, you will need to buy a more expensive one. The budget machines will certainly not run Vista very well. So, before spending all that money, ask yourself if you really need Vista.

This is a verifiable fact. Don't take my word for it.

B. Driver Support
Vista changed a lot of it's underlying architecture. One of the things that suffered was driver support. A lot of hardware drivers had to be rewritten to run on Vista. Therefore, Vista driver support just isn't quite there yet. One of the worst hit companies is Creative. They just don't have Vista native drivers for their newer audio cards.

As for graphics, most games suffer slower frame rates under Vista than under XP on the same hardware. This is presumably because the hardware companies are still playing catch up with their drivers. A lot of people felt that this will improve with time. But it's been half a year since the launch of Vista, and the problem still persists.

This is an easily verifiable fact. Don't take my word for it:
NVIDIA - "These versions are not fully optimized for full 3D"
Intel - "Production drivers are planned for release later in 2007"

UPDATE@1500: Looks like Creative has just released new Vista drivers.

C. DRM Infestation
Digital Rights Management, is a form of legal control, imposed by media content providers onto technology companies. The idea behind it is to prevent piracy by imposing artificial controls on how a user can use their media, such as music and videos. However, this technology has not managed to stop any pirates. All DRM schemes are cracked very quickly, sometimes even before they are officially released. So, the only people who get hurt by DRM are legitimate users of media. It takes away the user's legal right to use the media that they had paid for with their own money.

In order to enjoy hi-def movies under Vista, almost everyone would have to buy new monitors because your existing monitor will most certainly not support HDCP. So, if you've just invested in a spanking new 19" TFT monitor, prepare to junk it if you wish to watch BD or HD-DVD movies.


Vista has also been reported to constantly check media files for DRM control. It has been reported that this slows down the performance of an already sluggish OS. I've not been able to verify this fact. So, take it as you see fit.

So, those are some reasons why a lot of Tier 1 computer suppliers have re-introduced Windows XP as a valid purchase option after initially going Vista only. Customers want XP because Vista doesn't give anyone a reason to upgrade. It performs worse than XP, breaks compatibility with existing software and is DRM infested.

Read this for more reasons why you should not use Vista under any circumstances.

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