slightly embarrassing turn on the Daily Show, Bill and Steve finally pushed Windows Vista out onto the world. As I write these words her majesty, the Vista, is installing herself on my PC, grinding away at my RAID like a champ.
To make things perfectly clear, I’m a Mac lover. I started using them two years ago and haven’t looked back. Therefore, I could easily lump myself in with the fanboy crowd and say Vista sucks the hog. This, however, is not the case. But let me recount to you a bit of fun Josh and I had yesterday at the Vista launch event here in New York.
As I watched Bill and Steve caper on stage, promising the magic of amazingness in a great new Vista package, I felt something was wrong. Vista had everything I loved in OS X and, presumably, more. It had excellent parental controls, some interesting new graphical features and lots of little helper applications. It’s as if John Hodgman, the PC guy, had gotten buff and cool and trounced the fey Apple guy.
We’re watching the photo-editing functions, the new fancy backgrounds, the cool Aero interface, the new presentation framework and the power of Office 2007. We’re cracking jokes, being huge jerks and then I sat still and listened. I turned to Josh and asked “Where is the sex?”
You go to a MacWorld keynote and they have to sop up the mess on seats after Steve Jobs talks. You go to a Microsoft keynote and you stand in line, maybe clap a little, but you come away feeling as if you’ve just been ambushed by software sales guys. When the little Apple appears on your screen the first time, it’s like that first time you stuck in a Linux boot CD and saw that yes, there is life outside of your work PC and it is quite cool. Now that I don’t work at a cubicle farm, I can use whatever OS I want. And I chose OS X. It has sex. It has a sense of style. That is until this final version of Vista booted up.
Granted, Apple never leaks information before its launches. When you’re sitting in a keynote with Jobs, he’s offering you fresh goods, not software that’s gone through fifteen beta cycles and has already had enough ink to make Paris Hilton jealous. Microsoft has been so closed for so long that this new openness—sprawling release candidates, hundreds of screen shots, lots of press interaction—made the Vista launch a letdown. There’s also the little issue of OS X having everything Vista has and more, but that’s fairly obvious. The fanboy in me says Microsoft No! and the techie in me says Microsoft I Love You!
Friends, Vista is beautiful and powerful. It gives OS X a real run for its money. The windows are striking, the visual effects clean and the browser and applications are peppier than I even imagined. Whereas OS X runs at a stately, stolid pace, Vista pops and jumps and swings and does the “Wow.”
Good job, Bill and Steve. I’m proud of you.
So the sex, while not on stage yesterday, is there, right in the box. But what’s my concern? No one will see it. I have a fairly powerful older machine with a new graphics card and a few gigabytes of memory. Vista runs like a dream. But they gave me Ultimate edition with 32- and 64-bit disks included with all the eye candy and all the trimmings. Joe Upgrade probably won’t see the performance that I’m seeing unless he bought a brand new PC running Vista, which is probably what will happen. Bob Guy-In-The-Office definitely won’t see Aero for a few years, not until the IT team at his office decides it’s worth the upgrade.
After using Vista for a few hours this morning, I’m still not convinced I need to make the switch. However, the search functionality is quite nice—a few keystrokes was all it took to find anything on the disk—and I would trust this version with my aged father simply because it checks and double checks everything before you install or run programs. But all of this was already on OS X.
The real draw of Vista is the sense that Microsoft has finally gotten it right. In the long haul from 3.11 to XP, I trudged along with Microsoft like the die-hard fan I was. I trusted them to make a good, solid product that I could use daily and I did use it daily—until I discovered Linux and then OS X—and now I wonder if this is enough to bring me back.
My Mac Pro works beautifully and the OS is only getting better. I like iPods and I’ve built a little constellation of USB devices that expands and improves my overall OS X experience. For me, Vista came far too late. For anyone else running XP, it is a dream come true. Go and grab a new video card, some memory or a whole new PC. Install it. Be amazed.
Walt Mossberg believes this is the best Windows yet. I completely agree. This product has majesty and power and lots of thinking behind it. You will like it. However, if you have a low-end PC that you use for Web browsing and e-mail, stick with what you have. Get it with a new PC and see it in all its glory. Microsoft will amaze you this time, simply because they put all the sex in the product and none of it in the delivery.
More Vista Coverage…