Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Vista Perceptions Not Matching Reality?

Lloyd Ketchum from Liberating Technologies (a Microsoft partner) continues a debate that has been quietly gaining momentum the last couple weeks. In his words:

What in H.E. Double-Hockey-Sticks are people doing that has caused so many to have so much trouble running Windows Vista?


I just can't believe that we are simply lucky and for some odd reason that we cannot explain, our Windows Vista experiences have been so much better than what the online experts have shared. It's just too easy to verify things and Vista simply has too many instrumentation tools available to it for issues and questions to persist.

I trust what I see and what I see is a good Vista. I no longer trust our industry's experts - not because I disagree with them, but because I do not see any evidence of their use of expert tools. There is nothing to base trust upon and one "Snark Attack" after another, does not evidence make.

Lloyd, I have absolutely no idea either. Neither does John Obeto, who had an answer to Chris Pirillo's overly-emotional puff piece extolling the virtues of OSX over Windows. I think Chris is a great guy, and a good friend of mine... but I unsubscribed from him a long time ago. He hasn't had anything valuable to say about Windows in quite a while, which is unfortunate. He's a brilliant guy with a maddening attention to detail. But he started giving up on Windows the second I showed him the first Longhorn builds back in 2004. He's so OCD over nit-picky stuff like icon alignment that he misses the underlying beauty of how Windows Rally helps make wireless configuration easier, or the coolness of using Windows Media Center as the home's connected entertainment hub.

But Chris is not the only one. The problem is, I have run into a lot of everyday people that have negative opinions about Vista. It's hard to tell if these people's opinions are based on reading pundits who have turned their backs on Windows, or if they tried to upgrade an already overbloated and underpowered machine, or their OEM didn't pay attention to the end user's experience with their hardware.

I think the real reason is the changes that came with UAC, and the staggering lack of training from Microsoft built into the product on how deep that impact was. I remember the first time I installed Windows ME (to this day I think I am the only one that liked that OS) and how it forced you to sit through an intro video, and then explore some training before diving in.

With the changes in UAC, that video should have been mandatory once again. It should have explained how the threats online have changed, and how Microsoft made some painful changes that in the end would make them safer. It should have explained what happened when you saw one, and how, while annoying, the feature was there to protect people from themselves. And I'm really surprised that Video Professor and the like haven't stepped up with commercials specifically targeting cheap Vista training for the average user.

But I digress. This article on whether or not XP SP3 will slow Vista adoption is just another example of the seemingly concerted effort on the part of the media to create FUD about Vista. The article starts out by creating this air that Vista has a real problem, and in classic tech media fashion, waits until Page 2 to throw this quote at you:

Also, NPD's U.S. commercial point-of-sale data, a database containing sales feeds from value added resellers, shows that 40 percent of Windows PCs sold to businesses now ship with Vista, while the other 60 percent still ship with XP. But that mirrors the pattern seen after the release of other new operating systems, he said.

"While the Vista percentage may seem low, it is very similar to the trend we saw after the XP launch. Businesses have historically taken their time with new operating system rollouts, and the trend we're seeing with Vista is very much in line with previous trends," Swenson said.

Oh, so everything is really ok, following normal upgrade patterns over the last couple decades of computing, but if you hadn't taken the time to read the whole article, you wouldn't have known that.

In a followup, Lloyd calls Windows Journalism Snark-Infested Waters, and I agree. There are plenty of Windows enthusiast websites out there (I would LOVE to name names but I'm not gonna) that value wit over substance (and a rare few that can deftly pull off both). Now, I'm not saying Windows sites should be towing the Microsoft party line... but most have stretched well beyond constructive criticism and into the realm of Snarking for Dollars. There are too few journalists out there who really dig deep into the truth from a technical perspective (Ed Bott is the one who really stands out in my mind), and that is sad.

it's hard not to sound like a conspiracy theorist when I say this, but I think there is a concerted anti-Microsoft effort within the tech community, and it has crept up past the religious zealots and into the people that cover them. Which sucks. because if they took a step back, and took a look at Vista for what it was, they would see a flawed human creation (arent all human creations flawed in some way or another?) that is head and shoulders better than its predecessor.



  • Chris said:

    Hey Robert - have you tried OS X yet? If not, you owe it to yourself and your audience. ;)

    And I agree, Ed is one of the ONLY intelligent Windows evangelists out there anymore... like, who actually has truth on his side.

    February 22, 2008 2:16 PM
  • Chris said:

    Sorry, not to comment twice - but per your own request via text message (for those of you reading this, I sent Robert a text immediately after responding to this post, and it was a friendly one).

    That's damning, in more ways than one. Microsoft is leaving enthusiasts with very little choice. If anything, I'd like to do a phone / video / 'cast between you, me, Long, Ed, and Rory about this stuff. A user summit. :)

    February 22, 2008 2:27 PM
  • Chris, thanks for the link. We should definitely set that up.

    February 22, 2008 2:53 PM
  • Aaron said:

    'Overly-emotional puff piece'...Thats all your site has become Robert. Please stop the crusade against people who dont like Vista or Microsoft for whatever reason, theyre entitled too and theres no conspiracy going on. This site used to be a great resource for learning cool new stuff about Windows, and I hope it goes back to being one soon.

    February 22, 2008 3:56 PM
  • Shawn Oster said:

    I agree a 100%.  I've been running Vista since RC1 on a variety of hardware and haven't had any issues.  My experience has been very positive and as is those around me that actually *use* Vista on a daily basis.

    What's even *more* frustrating is when people spread Vista FUD yet completely overlook the *exact same issues* on OS X.  If you really dig you'll find a ton of hardcore OS X users complaining up a storm about Leopard; changes in the UI, worthless fluff features, locked machines, black screens, tons of weekly updates, etc.  It's as if the industry got together and decided to make Apple the darling and Windows the villain in order to have catchy blog titles.  The Tech Cold War is over folks, we don't need "good guys" and "bad guys" any more.

    I also unsubscripted from Chris Pirillo ages ago when his blog turned into about 80% ads and he lost all critical perspective when comparing products.  I do agree with a lot of his OCD comments about font and icon alignment, because polish and attention to detail really are what separate out a truly stellar product, but he would focus on that instead of moving on which got old.  It's also not like OS X isn't with it's own raft of similar issues when it comes to UI inconsistencies yet oddly enough I don't remember those being mentioned...

    And yes Mr. Pirillo, I've used Leopard, it had some nice features and some things were very smooth but others were a pain in the *** while others seemed poorly implemented.  In other words it seemed just like an OS.  Now the hardware is luscious, I'll fully agree with that but that has NOTHING to do Vista vs. OS X, except maybe Apple has it pretty cush in the development department when it comes to needing to worry about hardware compatibility so they sure as hell better be at least a little more stable than Vista.

    February 22, 2008 4:05 PM
  • JCH3 said:

    I agree with Robert, I run Vista Ulimate on an older machine and I enjoy the performance improvements over XP, I knew what to expect before I installed Vista, I have kept it upto date, I have enjoyed the self healing nature of the software. I have no complaints with VISTA. I have for some time discarded any article which says something to the effect Vista is Lacking, I just stop reading, It doesn't match my experience and I have found many of the "So called industry experts" are at best misleading, if not entirely false based on my usage and my opinion.  Expert is from Latin basically translated as Ex = Has been and pert = drip, thus you have a Has Been Drip trying to raise the flag of their own importance by touting untruths in their columns / article. If the articles were based on real world installations, properly setup, and maintained -- I believe the end results and user satisfaction would be more complete  

    February 22, 2008 4:08 PM
  • Bobby said:

    Hey Robert,

    I've been a windows client beta tester since 98SE.  Not the oldest in the bunch but I've been around.  Windows Vista IMHO is a nice operating system. What have I done with my complimentary Ultimate copy? I uninstalled it from a 1 year old laptop w/ 2GB of RAM b/c it was a slow slow dog in real world use. I am back to XP on that laptop and a tax rebate check away from an iMac.  I'm no expert but Vista doesn't run well on a sub $1000 laptop or a sub $700 desktop and certainly nothing old.  There in lies the public perception problem. If out of the publics own ignorance one buys an AMD or Celeron or Core Solo basement machine, they judge its speed and performance against that "slow ass vista OS from microsoft" and not the HW.


    February 22, 2008 4:24 PM
  • Shawn Oster said:


    Umm Bobby, wasn't your whole complaint against Vista that it wouldn't run well on a "sub $1000" laptop.  How much is that iMac you're looking at?  What are the specs on that iMac you're looking at?  Why don't you invest that money in a similar spec'd and priced PC and then compare.  Your argument doesn't make any sense, "It won't run on a budget machine so I'll buy a really expensive machine with a different OS instead...".  Huh?

    February 22, 2008 4:37 PM
  • Andrew said:

    Another great piece of text, Robert. I agree 100% with you too. About Macs, well, maybe for you north-americans it´s a lot easier and cheaper to buy one, but try get a Mac outside US... Here in Brazil its overpriced and for what it offers you can buy almost 2 powerful windows PCs. I used for sometime OS X in my work, but I can´t see nothing sooooo freaking special about it. Vista is a great OS, as good or better than the "run-only-on-expensive-machines" OS X (which have it´s bugs too, its freeze, it´s slowdown, etc). I just don´t understand why the "expertize" media likes to blame Vista for all problems in the world...  

    February 22, 2008 5:49 PM
  • John Obeto said:

    Robert, just in case you and Lloyd still wonder what is going on, it is simple: the supposed experts in the mainstream IT media have abdicated their independence, manhood (gender-inspecific), and supposed combined journalistic integrity in favor of the monies being earned from shilling for open source or something.

    Every time I open one of those glossies or fishwraps to read, I am amazed at the nonsense that emanates from their ‘tests’.

    First thing I want to scream is, “are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?”

    Aren't these the guys that are supposed to know?

    It is as if the publishers of those glossies have decided before hand to bash Windows Vista, then massage the ‘reviews’ to reflect that position.

    A kid can install Windows Vista, and upgrade it to SP1.

    For a review of Windows Vista, I asked my 13-year-old nephew to follow basic instructions, and install Windows Vista Ultimate on a 5-year old system, a Compaq Presario NX (Athlon 3000+ [2.16GHz] with 1GB, 256MB) by just following the instructions on the screen, continuing on to upgrade the system from Vista RTM to SP1. (Since I had been asked why my reviews were always done on top-of-the-line systems.)

    He did it successfully. On that old clunker. Experience Index of 2.6.

    Now if this kid could do it, why can’t these yum-yums do it?

    Lloyd wrote, “What kinds of hardware are these guys really running?”

    What I would like to see, and I haven’t so far, is one of these mainstream IT press types put an errant system in stasis, and call out for assistance.

    If the problem(s) still persist barring some quirky hardware and crazy custom software hard coded for a down-level version of Windows, and then I will stand corrected.

    Until then, shame on them!

    As far as Pirillo is concerned, if he had titled his post, 50 Reasons Why I switched to the Mac, or 50 Reasons Why I prefer the Mac to Windows, I would not have had a problem with his post. Since, a) it was his opinion, and b) it was, and is a very widely regarded and applauded position.

    Well, at least to the 3%-5% of the global computer buying public that buy Macs.

    February 22, 2008 6:20 PM
  • I'm running Vista on an Asus V1s with no issues.  Recently did the SP1 upgrade, and still no issues.

    February 22, 2008 7:36 PM
  • David said:

    @ Bobby:

    I am posting this from a Gateway MT6840 laptop and it cost less than $1000.  I run Vista Ultimate on it and not once has it given me any issues.  I have a Dell Latitude D800 which runs Vista Business and my wife uses it every day.  That laptop is well over four years old.  

    I've stopped listening to guys like Pirillo, Louderback, Dvorak, and Laporte years ago.  Any IT professional worth their weight should do the same.

    February 22, 2008 7:51 PM
  • T Man said:

    Thanks for fighting the good fight.  There has been such an anti-Vista bend to the tech blogosphere it is quite deafening, making it very difficult to navigate.  Guys like you, Long, Bott save the day with legitimate tech reporting and not just hit trolling.  The rant by Chris was certainly over the top.  The RDF is strong among tech pundits.  Especially when you have Mossy and Pogue leading the pack.

    I've been successfully running Vista on both a new Dell desktop since the retail availability, and typing this right now on a Lenovo x61s.  Outside of some driver issues on the Dell (thanks Nvidia for being so committed to quality, it's not like you didn't know Vista was coming), my experience has been absolutely fine.  In fact, with the improvements in the way that Vista handles video drivers, what would have caused BSODs on XP just caused some minor hiccups.

    February 22, 2008 8:25 PM
  • Adrian said:

    I've been trying to like Vista since Easter last year, honestly I really have.  We use ASUS laptops at work, all running XP and when it came time to buy a laptop for home I forked out AU$2300 for a brand new dual-core machine with 2G of RAM, preconfigured with Vista.

    Sadly, unlike XP on almost identical hardware it has been a dog since day one.  No amount of tweaking of disabling feature after feature has Vista approach anywhere near the performance of XP on slightly older hardware with half the RAM.  Moving files around is a joke, Putting it to sleep and waking it up is a waste of time, the wireless software always crashes requiring a reboot - you might as well just power it off in the first place and save time and battery life.

    I've managed to keep Vista on it for almost a year without succumbing to a frustrating desire to actually *USE* the PC without an endless flurry of UAC prompts, service pack 1 is desperately needed, if that doesn't work, it'll be XP or Ubuntu.

    Sorry Vista, you've had a year of my life.

    February 23, 2008 3:26 AM
  • Bobby said:

    @shawn One could invest in the right HW or given @David's experience HW that runs Vista well.  My reason to get the iMac is not because I can buy HW to run Vista well but it's I can buy a different experience with OSX and dualboot my Vista there. I look at it as a 2 for one capable machine.  Certainly agree equivalent HW is cheaper elsewhere;  I'm ok with a bit of a premium for that specific HW from an aesthetic standpoint.

    @David I was running my Vista on a Dell Latitude D620 with 2GB RAM and 80 GB 7200 RPM HD.  I was displeased with the responsiveness (lack there of) from just moving around in windows, start menu. I turned off Areo, Sidebar, Simple Themes, shut-down unnecessary services, etc.  Given that a Core Duo should be able to run that with ease it was just laborious.  My experience may be unique; I was waiting on the order of seconds for things like the Start Menu, task changes, programs to open (IE, Word, Excel, PPT), new tabs in IE were slow to open, Selecting, copying, cutting, and pasting files were slow in every aspect.  I've played with Vista in the stores on new Laptops and PC. It is the opposite of my experience. Everything is fast.  I agree Vista can be great and run great.  I don't intend or want to knock Vista; it is a fine OS.

    And again. The real point of my post was to hypothesize what some of the public perception problems with vista are regardless if they are true/valid. There is always flaw with perceptions because they are based on a healthy dose of ignorance.

    February 23, 2008 10:08 AM
  • Throzz said:

    Just a simple example. I'm standing now next to old (5years) G4 dual1,4 1.6 Gb of ram running Leopard smoothly and as efficient as it would be jaguar or 9.0. No unnecesary memory spent, multitasking working perfectly and so on and so on... Try doing something like this with Vist and Pc G4 equivalent. I wish you good luck. Sooo here you have the answer to all this whining about vista (to bad it realy could be a great OS). Btw. I'm having grat fun recently exploring Ubuntu. Things they done with this Os through last years are astounding. I can' wait till the final release of 8.04!!

    February 23, 2008 12:09 PM
  • Rob said:

    I run Vista on two machines (Business on a laptop, and Home Premium on a desktop) and they both work fine. I also use OSX at work. It also works fine, but it is not any better or worse than Vista. Slightly prettier eye candy, yes, but I have seen many issues at work with OSX.

    February 23, 2008 12:57 PM
  • Rory said:

    Chris and Robert -

    "If anything, I'd like to do a phone / video / 'cast between you, me, Long, Ed, and Rory about this stuff. A user summit. :)"

    I'd love to do it.

    And let's go for video, as I'm just so incredibly handsome.

    February 23, 2008 3:51 PM
  • David said:

    I for one am a fan of Vista but knew what I was getting.  I have Ultimate on two machines, one laptop and one desktop. Both are great.  I've got a mini with Leopard, and I dual boot my laptop with Ubuntu.  SP1 is running just fine on my machines as well.  No performance issues.  A co-worker asked me what I thought about Vista.  I gave him my opinion.  He had heard it *sucked* by many people and not to get it with his machine when it's ordered.  I asked for specifics. One person said it sucked because he couldn't run his five year old program.  One program and the OS sucks.    This was typical of the other stories too.  One of them had a valid point and I no longer remember what it was.  

    Vista is a very good OS. The public needs to be educated and MS has done a poor job of that. I've got several complaints about Leopard.

    Pirillo is a fun read, but I can't take anything he says seriously.  In in the pool that thinks his posts are motivated by advertising dollars, but that's just my opinion.

    February 24, 2008 2:59 PM
  • Mihai said:

    I run Vista for a while now, and it is ok.

    But I see nothing that would make me move from XP without buying a new machine.

    The main PITA: UAC, indeed. And nothing that a vide can solve.

    Just try creating a folder (let's call it "Crap") in "Program Files" and you have to confirm 4 TIMES!!! I understand (and I agree) once, but 4 times? (I don't care that creation an renaming are implemented as two different actions, that's an implementation detail that should not be visible to the user).

    Other: the elevation dialogs are often not in the foreground, and sometimes minimized. You have to know that one is expected and look for it.

    Other: backup. The flexible backup that we know since NT is gone, replaced by a crappy wizard toy that doesn't allow you to select individual folders and does no backup from FAT32 partitions (and don't tell me to move to NTFS, that's my decision, and I have reasons for it)

    Other than that, it's quite ok, stable, and fast (on a 4 years old machine with 2 GB of RAM only)

    February 25, 2008 5:43 PM
  • In my last post , I mentioned that Ed Bott was one of the last remaining tech journalists that really

    February 25, 2008 6:45 PM
  • Chris said:


    Dude, you can't defend that - you just can't.

    February 28, 2008 12:02 AM
  • Lloyd said:


    I don't think the objective is to defend anything, or anyone. I think the intent is to understand things better and based upon the facts.

    If you read what I wrote last May, you can see that based upon what we could see then, and enhanced by what we now know, that my speculation has proved to be correct. Reading the article and referenced quotations at your link supports this. At best, and in aggregate, the information now available, reflects a company working to move the platform forward while supporting key partners. Ironically, or not, it does appear to be another case of, "it is what it is..."

    Both serve as examples of what it is to operate as an enthusiast [in the context of this thread] where the goal had historically been to gather the best possible understanding, apply solutions that work and then share the results of the process with others.

    That process seems to have changed and it seems to have changed for reasons that while not fully understood, appear to have motivations that are not consistent with the practices demonstrated by enthusiasts opposite previous versions of Windows.

    February 28, 2008 8:32 AM
  • bebopper said:

    Frankly after dealing with my customers SATA drives not functioning, Video and sound drivers STILL causing problems, BSOD's, and pending.xml file issues from the previous round of updates from Microsoft I'm amazed more people aren't ahving problems and I think it's great that a number of you are able to get Vista up and working.

    That said, don't knock on the people that ARE having problems. I for one, STILL can't get my HP printer to both print and scan in Vista even after the SP1 update. It can do one, but not both unless I reboot. Connect the printer to my XP laptop, and it works great for both. Networking transfers are much better in SP1, but painfully slow compared to XP (I get almost twice the bandwidth when browsing the Internet on XP over Vista). Fortunately I wasn't gung-ho enough to install all the language packs (which apparently now must be uninstalled individually...requiring 15 minutes PER language before updating).

    I mean, people ARE out there and ARE having problems. Vista certainly isn't a horrible mess, but it's far from great and there's honestly little "wow" over XP for the extra $300. That's the real catch...there's really nothing you get for your $300 investment over what was already on the market and working for less.

    March 23, 2008 1:01 PM