While I definitely think some elements of Vista are definite improvements, 10 months of experience has shown me there are some things that just annoy me to my very core. Here are the three things that most make me wish I had the strength to move over to Linux — full time.
1. Explorer crashing over and over and over and over and over again
This is a legacy Windows issue that has always plagued me. Scrolling through huge directories and even just downloading something that Windows doesn’t like can cause explorer.exe to start thinking emo thoughts and take its own life. While this doesn’t usually mean I lose any work, it can frustrate the hell out of me if I’m doing something with several complicated paths and it means I have to start all over again.[vid:20070902-crash]
The cause of the above video is a codec issue but my point when I mentioned it was that Explorer, as the shell for Windows, should be nigh on bullet-proof. Instead we’ve had 6 major versions of Windows where a squirrel farting 200 miles away can topple it.
2. Included software being criminally rubbish
While there are many examples of this decay in Windows, the CD/DVD burning wizard from XP that has travelled into Vista with just as many issue is the particular example I cite for this claim. The only magic this wizard has ever shown it transfiguring perfectly good media into little steaming piles of bork.
This is something that should have been fixed in XP SP2. As it is in Vista only 1-in-10 attempts actually works for me. To compound my problem and escalate this into a fully-blown issue, the very excellent and free CDBurnerXP doesn’t support Vista yet.
This, along with many other small applications included with Windows demonstrate the abuse of time and complacency. It may work for a small subset of users but the inadequacy of included software drives people to buy 3rd party software to get a relatively simple task accomplished.
Under Linux there is a plethora of highly functional burning apps, some commercial but the best of breed belonging to open source. FOSS allows people to take existing projects and improve them and while Windows has stagnated, their applications have become wildly powerful and in many cases, best of breed on any platform.
3. The DRM is getting me down.
While I usually argue that driver-incompatibility is not Microsoft’s fault due to hardware vendors having access to Vista for well over a year now, plenty of the changes that have had to be made to drivers wouldn’t be needed if Microsoft hadn’t turned Vista into the world’s biggest software DRM platform.
Vista features layer-upon-layer of hardware and software monitoring so that media apps can "trust" the route through from storage media through to the screen. If a system cannot be trusted (through incompatible/untrusted hardware) the media is distorted into a poorer quality version.
And all this monitoring requires hardware to power it. Performance that could be used to run the system is being syphoned off to ensure that I’m not doing something with media I’m not supposed to. Microsoft effectively said it was okay to waste the hardware of users on the whim of media companies — something that doesn’t sit right by me. DRM is pointless and ineffective yet some percentage of my system resources are paying that tax regardless of my actions.
And yet I still use it…
For all its faults and shortcomings, I like Windows. It’s an unfortunate predicament isn’t it?
I’m sure that most of it is experience — knowing where things are — but another large chunk is that I also know the applications I use. In many circumstances, I know I could migrate to alternative applications on a Linux OS but there are a similar number of applications that I rely on which I deem best of breed. Some are Microsoft programs like Visual Studio, some are games which don’t operate under Linux, at least not to the same levels as they work natively in Windows.
The question I keep asking myself as I look jealously at the latest Linux releases is: how long will I force myself to use Windows?
About Oli: I’m a Django and Python programmer, occasional designer, Ubuntu member, Ask Ubuntu moderator and technical blogger. I occasionally like to rant about subjects I should probably learn more about but I usually mean well.