Vista Update -- It Still Sucks

Short version: avoid Vista.  Longer version:  I wrote previously about Vista writing a new chapter in fair use: 

Because, having killed fair use for multiple copies, believe it or
not, the media companies are attempting to kill fair use even for the
original media by the original buyer!  I know this sounds crazy, but in
Windows Vista, media companies are given the opportunity to, in
software, study your system, and if they feel that your system is not
secure enough, they can downgrade the quality of the media you
purchased or simply refuse to have it play.  In other words, you may
buy an HD DVD and find that the media refuses to play on your system,
not because you tried to copy it, but because it feels like your system
*might* be too open.  The burden of proof is effect on the user to prove to the media companies that their system is piracy-proof before the media they paid for will play...

Back to the book
analogy, it's as if the book will not open and let itself be read unless
you can prove to the publisher that you are keeping the book in a
locked room so no one else will ever read it.  And it is Microsoft who
has enabled this, by providing the the tools to do so in their
operating system.  Remember the fallout from Sony putting spyware, err copy protection, in their CD's -- turns out that that event was just a dress rehearsal for Windows Vista.

Via Instapundit, Bruce Schneier concurs:

Windows Vista includes an array of "features" that you don't want.
These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure.
They'll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause
technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some
of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features
won't do anything useful. In fact, they're working against you. They're
digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest
of the entertainment industry.

And you don't get to refuse them.

The details are pretty geeky, but basically


has reworked a lot of the core operating system to add copy protection
technology for new media formats like HD-DVD and Blu-ray disks. Certain
high-quality output paths--audio and video--are reserved for protected
peripheral devices. Sometimes output quality is artificially degraded;
sometimes output is prevented entirely. And Vista continuously spends
CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you're doing
something that it thinks you shouldn't. If it does, it limits
functionality and in extreme cases restarts just the video subsystem.
We still don't know the exact details of all this, and how far-reaching
it is, but it doesn't look good....

Unfortunately, we users are caught in the crossfire. We are not only
stuck with DRM systems that interfere with our legitimate fair-use
rights for the content we buy, we're stuck with DRM systems that
interfere with all of our computer use--even the uses that have nothing
to do with copyright....

In the meantime, the only advice I can offer you is to not upgrade
to Vista.

We have about 50 computers in the company and I have banned everyone from upgrading to Vista.  I have studied Vista and there is nothing there that helps my business, and a lot that hurts it (e.g. higher initial price and much higher system requirements.)  If we upgraded, we might have to replace half our old ink jet printers just because the manufacturers are really unlikely to write Vista drivers for them.  We have 4 Dell's in the closet with XP loaded.  After those are used up, I will build all the future computers myself.  I have several OEM copies of XP on the shelf (less than 1/2 price of the Vista retail upgrade) and I will buy more if it looks like they are going to stop selling it.  I would switch everyone to Linux, except most of my employees are not very computer savvy and its just too hard to get them all trained.  I will probably only buy Vista for one box, which is my gaming machine at home, and even that is at least a year away before anyone has a killer DirectX 10 game I have to have.


  1. CyberCelt:

    You are so right. I had a laptop go kaput and I went looking last week. Three days after Vista was released all the laptops and computers in town were loaded with it. I happened to ask if the MS Office and Front page software I already have would run on Vista. No, it will not. But you can go buy $700 worth of new software. OMG! I just kept looking until I found a laptop with XP on it.

    There should be a law against this.

  2. Knox:

    This concern is overstated. It only comes into play when you're attempting to access DRM'ed music or movies. Do you really allow music and movies at work? I don't. Even for personal use, I've looked at a movie on a computer maybe twice in the last 10 years. All my music is on the computer, but doesn't have any DRM on it. Although I'm sure the Video got more complex (and more needlessly complex due to the DRM), it also got more reliable not less reliable. The technical reason is that they moved the video drivers into user memory space, which means they can detect a fault and restart the video driver, something that is impossible under XP.
    If you have power users at work, with hundreds of documents that they deal with, then Vista has benefits for the power user. Even for basic users, it has significant security improvements that alone are worth the upgrade. I plan to quickly move our companies laptops to Vista because of the better security and Bitlocker encryption security that makes it a LOT harder for the bad guys to steal info off of a laptop. Do you have any business information worth stealing off your computers?
    As we speak (er, blog?), I'm pricing out new computers from Dell, and Vista Business is $99 versus XP Pro being $150, which kind of suprised me.
    The first commenter is wrong, or at least partially wrong in that Microsoft Office 2003 will run on Vista. Older Office won't. Get OpenOffice if you don't want complete compatibility.
    Love the blog, keep up the good work!

  3. Xmas:

    Don't even go there for DirectX 10. They (them, those guys, rabid gamers) are predicting that DX10 won't be stable until mid-2008. You'll probably need to upgrade your components to get ones that work well with DX10.

  4. Jay:

    I agree. Even without the DRM problem, I don't see any compelling reason to upgrade. It's effectively a version 1.0 release.

    I'll probably end up with a computer running it for learning and lab test purposes, so I don't end up supporting it for people when I've never seen it myself, but that's about it.

  5. Matt W:

    I just built a new computer, so I went with Vista (the pricing really isn't that different from XP, especially for the OEM version). So far I'm impressed. Like all new things, it, along with Office 2007, takes some getting used to (and as someone who spends all day doing modeling in Excel, I'm thankful they kept shortcuts the same). Overall my impressions are favorable, although I think it's slightly too "Mac-like" in that it seemingly adds an extra layer between the end user and the system configuration tools, though this could just be a result of not having figured out where exactly everything is.

    That being said, I'm not sure that in most cases it provides enough additional functionality to justify an upgrade (though bitlocker could make sense for business laptops, as mentioned earlier).

    Also, as a libertarian/anarchocapitalist, don't you think that DRM restrictions are the right of the content producer? I'm certainly not a fan of the government getting involved in things like that, but it seems that if the company puts conditions on the use of their product through a contract, and you agree to buy it anyway, that's perfectly fine from an ethical standpoint. I'm not opining on the business sense of these restrictions (I personally think they're counter-productive and harm the business in the end).

    I don't know if you think it's immoral to do this or are just mad with the companies the way someone gets mad at poor service. However, it seems that many people out there, including libertarians, have started to abandon their ideals in the name of free music.

  6. Max:

    Indeed the copyright features are a can-do of the producer, but he has to live with the setbacks in a truly free markets. However, we don't have such a thing when it comes to operating systems.
    Yet, I think Microsoft has shot itself in the leg with Windows Vista. Not only has it massive hardware requirements (which office station needs a Direct X 9 graphics card?), but the DRM restrictions will lead people to investigate into alternative solutions (is linux really so hard to install?).

  7. Mesa EconoGuy:

    Windows XP still looks like a hack job – Vista is probably worse (I haven’t seen it yet up close).

    I work for a major corporation, and there are already multiple known Vista compatibility issues with our internal and external software and apps. We are strongly cautioning clients not to upgrade to Vista at this time.

    Microsoft is on the downswing for a mature product, and a shortening cycle, with platform convergence and multiple substitutable products. If you own this stock, I would consider selling it. Microsoft is continuing to put out crap products, and they can’t get away with it anymore.

  8. M1EK:

    Too bad the government refused to adequately enforce antitrust law back when there was a commercial competitor to Windows who could have kept the market more honest, huh? (and, no, linux isn't even within orders of magnitude of the same thing).