I just don't get it.
What in H.E. Double-Hockey-Sticks are people doing that has caused so many to have so much trouble running Windows Vista?
I need to share a different perspective - the only one I know and that is the one shaped by what we encounter in my company each and every day. For me, Windows Vista has been wonderful and I have come to really enjoy using and supporting the operating system.
We are a full service technology company. We build computers, laptops, media centric systems, and servers. We build and manage the networks we build the computers to run in. We host a wide variety of services and we build a lot of software - custom Decision Control Panels, a complete ERP and just about everything in between. We operate our own datacenters and we sell bandwidth; our own circuits and related products and services. We are Microsoft Partners, and we have partnering relationships with many others, AT&T (we miss you Bellsouth), Verizon, Packet8, WiLife, and a dozen other smaller companies. The best part of what we do is support our customers. We know them and their businesses well, and they are the best part of every day. Frankly, they amaze and humble us - they are that good and more supportive of us than any company deserves.
We've been around Windows Vista for a long time - since well before BETA 2. Ironically, but not happily, when I first saw BETA 2 of Windows Vista, I was furious. I could tell that the new operating system was going to have one heck of a rough time. I wrote a lot about why I assessed Vista would struggle and why the Windows base would revolt. At that time I was flamed for being either too harsh, or as one gut put it, "a drama queen" ( I nearly pissed myself laughing at that one - because I despise drama for the pure sake of it - I do call things as I see them, however... ). I wish I was wrong and wish Vista had been embraced - after all, we are Microsoft Partners and in all sincerity, as with all partners, loyalty matters. So BETA 2 impressions be damned, we were going to give Vista our best efforts - and we did / do.
Beginning with Pre-RC1 Vista builds, things were looking up - the new OS was taking shape and its legs were less wobbly. By RC2 and the incremental post RC2 build just before RTM, it was clear that the new OS was going to run well. There were a few scary moments there, just before RC1 - when as a NAT Client behind Watch-Guard firewall appliances, the new networking stack in Vista and the image we were testing didn't get along. Microsoft's engineers were really quick to jump on that one and by RC1, NAT Client issues were resolved. It was fun to work with them and feel their very deep sense of urgency. It felt good to have helped resolve a real challenge and well... work as a partner.
Candidly, we didn't expect much from Windows Vista at first. We had tested a wide variety of systems and having been through the entire new OS process many times before, we didn't expect a perfect ride, or even an easy one. We were wrong - deploying RTM builds of Vista went off without nearly as much difficulty as XP had caused and a whole lot less than Windows 2000 did, and just wads less than the first builds of Windows 98 did over Windows 95 - compared to those experiences, Windows Vista over XP was a walk in the park. Memories of Windows 95 upgrades aren't fair for two reasons, 1) it was so new in so many ways, there wasn't a relevant example to compare it to, and 2) things were not nearly as complex back then as they would be by the time Windows 98 rolled out a short time later. There are however, two similarities between Windows 95's release and that of Windows Vista. First, we didn't expect much of Windows 95 either, and second, both operating systems surprised us - both were better from the start than we anticipated and both required some exploration to come to understand.
The day Windows Vista was released to business customers I did a clean install of Vista Ultimate on a then three year old Compaq laptop (NX9600) that had been a test system since BETA 2. The clean install took about twenty-two (22) minutes soup-to-nuts. Everything worked. A quick pass on the reference video card driver from Windows Update and a manual install of the release WHQL Video driver from ATI (they were still called that then), and I was done. The laptop has been great since day one. It's running SP1 RTM now (manually downloaded from MSDN) which was installed after removing the latest SP1 RC refresh and using Windows Update to prepare the system for SP1 RTM. None of the nonsense I have read about Vista has manifested itself on the system - the very one I am writing this post on now. The same is true of Office 2007, which I installed the same day. While it took a little getting used to (like an hour) I quickly fell in technical-love with the new Office Ribbon UI. I knew that Vista was going to index my drive, so I let it do that and settle in while I went back to work.
By the end of the next day, all of our office systems had been updated and I had upgraded another computer - clean install around an existing XP Pro install - placing the old installation into the familiar Windows.old directory for an easy transfer back into the user profile. Again, zero issues were encountered with the install, or use of the computer. It too is running Vista SP1 RTM.
By Christmas of 2006, all of my home systems were running Windows Vista Ultimate. The last of them to be upgraded is a test media centric box that I have written about here. It was an in-place upgrade over XP Media Center Edition, which took several hours. It has been a flawless system that we have pushed really hard and despite the load, it has held up incredibly well. One of my son's has a similar box driving multiple TV tuners and digital cable boxes (he records all the TV he views) and his has been just as solid. Both are running Vista SP1 RTM and both updated without incident.
The day Windows Vista went into general release we deployed our first media centric system connected to a 65" professional series Panasonic 1080P panel. It was a fun build and it has been running beautifully for over a year. The first weekend after that and we deployed our first network of Vista computers into a medical practice running an ancient patient information system parallel to a wide variety of diagnostic and instrumentation software. That network has been flawless and the mix of client software supported proved to us that Vista was ready for business.
Again, there were no surprises, less Vista itself. We just didn't expect it to do as well as quickly as it did. As Vista matured, so much of what made it different began to reveal itself. How it reports problems and how they are worked on and how solutions are delivered was frankly, amazing.
Over the last year we have built and deployed many Vista based systems and networks for businesses of many types - from engineering firms to hospitals and retail sales stores using Microsoft Point Of Sale 2.0 and in each case, Vista has been simple to use and rock solid. Better still, customers have loved it and have come to rely on it.
Also during the last year we have read, heard and seen one alleged technical expert after another whine about and then allege to have abandoned Windows Vista. This has been surprising and makes me wonder what these alleged experts are doing and what they are running. If we hadn't used Vista in so many different ways, and opposite so many different pieces of specialty software and hardware, I might be able to understand them better, if not for the diversity of what we do and how close we are to the day to day use of Vista by so many different types of users - for the life of me, I just don't get it and can't see what they are talking about.
Since we don't buy OEM manufactured computers, but custom build our own, I guess one could say we can control the processes better, but one would think that the large OEM's with their engineering resources, would have a great handle on their designs and mix of components. I have to believe that the likes of Dell and HP are most capable of making great machines. Similarly, we upgraded so many old and different systems, that one would think we would have seen at least a few of the insurmountable obstacles that many technology pundits assert they have experienced.
Most recently, Chris Pirillo joined the legion of the lost and quit Windows for OS X. His explanation was simply weird and laced with spleen directed not so much at Microsoft, but Windows Vista and as he put it, "the direction it had taken." I haven't seen much of Chris Pirillo in recent years and I don't know much about what he has experienced, so it is harder to grasp what he means. I do find it very odd that someone who is supposed to be strong technically could have been so challenged by the new Windows. One thing I did note is that he was using Outlook 2000 and compared its capabilities with OS X Leopard's version of mail.app? Huh? (Bleeding edge technology enthusiast and he uses Outlook 2000? - one would think that he'd use hosted Exchange opposite his own domain and Outlook 2007 (Outlook Anywhere). That one example makes me question what exactly Chris knows and what his real skill level is. It just does not make any sense. Anyone who understands a lick about messaging (certainly any "Tech Expert") would at least be familiar with Outlook Anywhere - after all, the capability has been supported since 2000!
Before Chris there was Jim Louderback, and the chief editor over at Maximum PC (whom I opine must surrender the Minimum BS tag line under the magazine's title to those who can make a PC run better than they apparently can(not)).
Leo Laporte, who in 1998 thought that the Active Desktop in Windows 98 was akin to the second coming, long ago left Windows in favor of Apple, Mac OS X and anything the company does, or says. The outright fallacies about Microsoft and Vista coming from Mr. Laporte's mouth are so outrageous and patently inaccurate, that it's just funny - which to his credit, I assess is his goal - to simply entertain. At least I hope that is the case. I hope his show with Paul Thurrott is amusing to both of them, because it offers precious little value to Windows users trying to get the most out of the platform - but hey, I'm sure they both score well on the "Snark Attack" meters so popular in the bay area.
At least John C. Dvorak admits that he has never used Windows Vista and like something of a gentleman, he's been largely silent on the matter - but for Mr. Dvorak, largely silent is still pretty vocal. So for a guy that has not used the new OS much, it's always a special treat to hear him chime in about what makes it so bad, or why it will fail. Mr. Dvorak, you know better, I think...
The guys over at Revision3 are a complete trip - dripping with cool - as cool as a bunch of tards can be, that is. Any intern we have ever had knows more about technology than they seem to and watching them work Vista over hits one's gag reflex pretty quick. They're lucky most people really do not know much about computers, or they'd never have been funded. Poor, poor VC's - round after wasted round...
What any of these people are running for hardware is anyone's wag.
I don't know what any of these people are using, but it can't possibly be hardware from the following little known manufacturers: (the stuff we use)
Microsoft (keyboards, mice and video cameras)
WiLife (now part of Logitech)
Given the differences in what we actually experience with Vista day to day, and what we read and hear from "Tech Experts", I have to ask: "exactly what does it take to be considered a computer expert these days?"
Trust but Verify:
Just a quick hint for people who really want to get at what is going on with Windows Vista in the one area that truly can cause users some trouble.. go to START, and in the search box type verifier - the top most search return will be a little program called, verifier.exe. This is the Driver Verifier Manager in Windows Vista and it is one of the best tools baked into the new operating system. The driver verifier isn't new - it's been around in one form or another since Windows 2000 and it is a great way to assess installed drivers. In Windows Vista the verifier one can use the default first option to Create standard settings. The next option and task is to Automatically select unsigned drivers. This will detect any unsigned drivers if they exist. Having no unsigned drivers is the desired result.
In my example, as depicted at the image inserted below, I have run the verifier tool on my oldest Windows Vista system (a six year old Pentium 4 3.06 [w/HT] that uses a Promise Super Trak 6 channel RAID controller). As can be seen, I have run the verifier tool, discovered an unsigned driver and the next step is to restart the system to verify the driver. In the absence of driver signing, verifying the driver is a good way to test and "verify" if it is stable. Now, from where I sit, this is the sort of thing that the "Tech Experts" I have mentioned above, should be using for themselves and sharing with others (provided that they are sincerely interested in helping and informing people and not more interested in ad based revenue opposite "Snark Infested Waters fed by rivers of Bovine Scatology!").
I really like the idea of verifying systems and all that goes into them. There are tools readily available to all users to help them verify their own systems and at least get them oriented in the right direction. I think as users of computers we have a right and an obligation to expect that those that are held out as experts, or allow themselves to be regarded as expert computer users, be as thoughtful as possible. When they do not back up what they say with data and they do not appear to use available testing and diagnostic tools, I think we have to begin to examine what they say and write with our own more thoughtful approach. We have to begin to press the experts with tougher questions and demand answers. If the tech industry's experts can't get their systems to run, let's ask them what they are running and what exactly they are doing that produces such terrible results. Let's examine more closely their business relationships with competitors of the products they assert are so bad. I think we owe it to ourselves to hold "experts" to task and request that they publish the data supporting what they say. I say we need to trust, but verify and get to the bottom of the matter.
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.