Has Microsoft Finally killed off Windows?

As you read this, bear in mind the major complaints people have about Windows and also that a widely-accepted definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome.

Over the holidays I set out to see just how practical Vista was as an operating system for some of my business clients to standardize on.

To understand my extremely brief review (essentially “it doesn’t work on my computers”) you need a bit of background on the punishment I dish out every day to my poor old Dell. Punishment that XP has no trouble dealint with

My main computer is several years old, a Dell with 512M of memory, an upgraded dual-monitor video drive, wireless and wired Ethernet connections to a satellite Internet connection, a printer/scanner that is a few years old but working fine, and XP Pro.

I do day trading as well as manage an eBay store (TurboLister) and support several customers (Homestead’s Web software) and cover cybersecurity threats.

On a typical day I also have a couple IE browsers open along with Firefox with about a dozen open tabs, including several live stock and commodity charts, Level-2 NASDAQ displays, and a couple Word and Excel windows.

I monitor Bloomberg Radio all day and occasionally Bloomberg TV.

I have a couple of media readers built into a Dell LCD monitor and an external USB/Firewire hard drive, and an external DVD recorder.

There are 21 windows open as I write this in Notepad.

It might surprise you to learn that The old Dell and XP Pro can easily handle all this as long as I do a cold reboot about once a week.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so I haven’t upgraded either my PC or peripherals – there simply isn’t any reason to do so.

Vista, on the other hand, doesn’t recognize any of my peripherals, and, after upgrading my Dell to 1G RAM was only able to open a couple of windows.

In other words, Vista doesn’t run on my main office system.

For now that’s the end of my review of Vista – I’d rather use DOS with DeskQiew, and Vista doesn’t hold a candle to most versions of *nix.I suppose I’ll eventually have to load up a Vista-capable system to continue covering this latest Microsoft disaster as it gets adopted.

But I must confess that my feelings about Microsoft are definitely very mixed. I’ve made a LOT of money over the years based only on the difficulty of installing, learning, running and securing Microsoft operating systems and applications.

Metaphorically I am gleefully rubbing my hands together while publicly bemoaning the terrible adventure Vista is about to put businesses through. I probably shouldn’t confess that. It is a lot like a trauma surgeon admitting that secretly, deep down, he/she loves the level of violence in our society and dreads the prospect of cars with speed limiters and side-curtain air bags.

After all, without injuries they would have to find another line of work.

Realistically, from a personal business standpoint I look forward to companies and consumers quickly upgrading to Vista. After all, if software worked I would have to close my consulting business!

Hardware vendors must be simply delirious since most legacy hardware won’t run Vista and legacy peripherals won’t work because there are no drivers and Microsoft has made it nearly impossible to use third-party drivers.

Still, I can’t depend on business people and home users remaining dumb forever – someday they will see that Microsoft has finally shot itself in the foot by producing an OS that not only costs a minimum of $100, but it will only run on a powerful NEW computer AND you will need new peripherals too if you want to print or scan anything.

I’ve looked over a couple of positive reviews of Vista and the only point they all seem to agree on is that it is very pretty. My advice to them is to buy a good painting for your office and skip Vista.

Hmm, an OS which won’t run in less than 1G and even then runs VERY slow – I can’t wait to see what new security holes are discovered, Vista should carry me right through a late retirement!

On a related topic, I just finished the January/February issue of MIT’s Technology Review which had a story about Charles Simonyi, the man credited (blamed) for the creation of Microsoft Office.

Apparently the word is getting out that he is responsible because he is the guy who is getting off the planet ASAP (www.nerdinspace.com) (Just kidding).

(BTW, I’d tell you what is on his Web site but even with a satellite connection I gave up on loading it after a minute – How ironic! I guess viewing it requires having a T-1 line.)

But the most telling part of the article for me was the author, Scott Rosenberg, recounting an interview with Mr. Simonyi in 2002.

It seems the former Microsoft software guru was trying to demonstrate something on his Windows computer but was unable to navigate around “Clippie” – he told the interviewer that he simply couldn’t do what he wanted in Word because of Clippie and he (Simonyi) hadn’t turned Clippie off because “I don’t know how.”

Think about that a moment, the person maily responsible for Word can’t figure out how to turn Clippie off, and have pity on the poor novice users you are often called on to train.

The article was actually about Simonyi’s effort to build a new programming paradigm but, personally, having seen the only big thing he is already responsible for creating (Microsoft Office) I won’t hold my breath waiting for his company to make programming easier and more secure.