4 Reasons why Windows Vista is better than XP

by Shane Perris on Wednesday, 30 January, 2008

in Uncategorized

Windows Vista has attracted a lot of heat since its launch in January 2007. It’s been called out for nagging users with the User Account Control (UAC), being a resource hog, being slow, having an unfamiliar interface, incompatible with legacy hardware, incompatible with legacy software – you name it, Vista has been bagged for it.

However, in my experience it really has not been that bad. There have been high profile cases of people declaring that they were going to downgrade back to XP (Chris Pirillo is one popular example) but is it really the case that people have been this much of a hard time?

Google Trends reveals that, for many people, Vista works.

vista_trends

(Blue is “vista sucks”, red is “vista works”)

vista_xp_trends

(Blue is “vista works”, orange is “vista sucks” and red is “downgrade to xp”).

What is interesting to me is that downgrading to XP appears to have got the most attention online. Personally, I think downgrading to XP is a definite backward step and here’s why I think Vista is better than XP:

1. Great collection of bundled software: Vista (especially the Home Premium version that the majority of people will come in to contact with) comes with a wide range of applications that are designed specifically to play nice with the operating system and are handy for the general consumer. Windows Media Centre. Windows Movie Maker 6. Windows DVD Maker. Photo Gallery. Instant search. Windows Sidebar.

I know that a lot of these are also available in XP or have 3rd party equivalents but don’t underestimate the power of bundled apps. After all, isn’t one of the key selling points of Apple’s OSX the powerful consumer-level apps that come standard with the computer?

2. It makes better use of hardware resources: I accept that Vista has a heftier hardware requirement than XP. However, XP needed more resources than Windows 2000, which in turn needed more than Windows ME and Windows 98. A decent level of graphics grunt is required and 2 gigabytes of RAM is something of a sweet spot. The extra hardware resources are worth it as Vista puts them to good use. The shiny Aero interface of Vista utilises the Graphics Processing Unit of the computer that would otherwise sit there doing not much of anything outside of gaming. Aero makes looking at the computer screen just that little bit easier on the eyes. Vista also makes good use of spare RAM capacity. It might look like it has a big memory footprint but what it is doing is storing more things in the quick access memory that it thinks might be needed, giving the user faster response times and jumping back to the hard drive less (it’s quicker to fetch from RAM than from disk).

3. Vista is more secure: it’s very hard to argue with this one. Vista is not perfect but UAC makes it a lot harder for the general user’s system to be compromised. The regular pop ups can get annoying at times and Vista runs the risk of inducing “pop up fatigue” where users just click “OK” automatically. However, once you have the system configured just the way you like it, the pop ups happen much less than you think. Other operating systems employ similar security measures, for example OSX and Linux. While I don’t have experience with OSX I do know that in Linux I’ve had to use the command “sudo” to temporarily elevate user privileges many times, almost to the stage where it becomes habit to add sudo to the start of every command line action.

4. Vista has an improved user interface and other system tweaks: There are lots of little tweaks and improvements that make life easier in Vista. For example, when renaming files, Vista automatically highlights only the filename and not the file extension. Hit the TAB key when you’re finished and it jumps to the next file in the list and highlights the name, ready for renaming. Little touches like this go a long way. There are many more little Vista tips (for a great selection, visit The Supersite For Windows Vista page).

Caveats

I accept that Vista isn’t perfect. Despite being more secure than XP out of the box, it still does have security problems. Some of the user interface changes can be confusing if you’re used to doing things in a certain way. Old hardware may never have Vista-ready drivers (especially if the hardware is obsolete or the manufacturer has gone out of business). There are some lingering concerns about the impact of the inbuilt Digital Rights Management, but that’s not a wall I’ve bumped up against yet.

Conclusion

I enjoy using Vista. I hate having to use XP on my work computer. Although I’m a fan of Vista, I don’t recommend it unconditionally. If you have XP installed on your current computer and it works just fine, I wouldn’t suggest upgrading. However, if you’re buying a new computer, I see no reason to stick with XP. Vista will work just fine.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 michael January 31, 2008 at 0:32

1. bundled software: is weak and buggy, and creates monopoly.

2. Just because its new, doesnt mean its ok that it uses insane amounts of resources.

3. If you know what you are doing, using XP is secure enough. Making it harder to use, but “more secure” is bullshit.

4. eyecandy. Both makes the system slow and insecure. Take a peek at compiz for linux, and you will not be amazed by vista.

fuck capitalism. Fuck microsoft.

2 shane January 31, 2008 at 9:08

How much time have you actually spent using Vista?

1. You say weak, I say just enough features to get the job done to the satisfaction of the general user. As for buggy, any specific examples? I’ve had no problems with any of the bundled programs. Anyway, the bundled apps I mentioned are hardly in the same league as the tight integration of IE and the monopoly accusations that were well deserved with that “innovaton”. Besides, no one complains that Apple is perpetuating a monopoly because all new Macs come with the iLife suite.

2. I don’t consider my low-end 12 month old Dell laptop “insane resources” and Vista runs quite happily on that. Resource creep happens all over the place, Linux included. The last few major releases of Ubuntu have used more and more of my system resources. Why does no one ever complain about that? The only OS I know of that actually ran better on lower end machines with each release was OS X.

3. I know what I’m doing and my XP machine is quite secure. UAC is not aimed at people like you and me who “know what they are doing”. The power user can just turn it off. It’s aimed at people like my parents or sister whose knowledge of security barely extends past “don’t open attachments”. I’d love for you to tell me how UAC makes Windows harder to use because it hasn’t made it any harder for me.

4. I’m confused. How is file renaming “eye candy”? As for compiz, it has refused to install on my linux install the last three times I tried. Aero worked out of the box. I’d love to compare the two but how can I when only one works on my hardware?

I’d love for you to enlighten me. If Vista has been bad for you (rather than generically “bad”), I want to hear your experiences. Seriously.

3 fr33mumia February 7, 2008 at 23:12

Great collection of bundled software ?? There’s a lot of free opensource tools way much better than what microsoft offering. Start using Ubuntu my friend d-_-b

4 shane February 9, 2008 at 12:58

I’m sure there are many good free and/or open source products around, but that doesn’t change my contention that Vista is better than XP.

On my Unbuntu install I don’t have anything that compares to polish and ease-of-use of Windows Movie Maker, for example, or even Windows Photo Gallery. Ubuntu is getting there (I’m looking forward to Hardy Heron as much as anyone) but the bundled software is still not quite there. It might be powerful but if it’s hard to use, what motivation do I have to spend my time with it?

I’m not a platform zealot at all. I use Linux. I use Windows. My next system will be a Mac. My own priority is for the software to help do what I want to do, not get in my way while I’m trying to do it. There aren’t too many popular opensource apps that help me with my own specific user history and experiences. They’re getting close, but not quite there yet.

Leave a Comment