Windows Vista doesn’t paint a pretty picture

What does the word “vista” bring to mind? Perhaps a beautiful landscape or a futuristic perspective. Maybe the light at the end of a filthy, never-ending tunnel. But what if that light is only the illuminated “dead end” sign?

Windows Vista, Microsoft’s latest operating system, hits store shelves today. Vista is the culmination of five years of hard work from Microsoft’s Windows development team. It includes many “new” features that a Mac or Linux user will find familiar or even dated. Among these novel components are Windows Search and Windows Sidebar. Windows Search is strangely reminiscent of Mac OS X Tiger Spotlight, right down to the logo, while the Sidebar is a cluttered, more confusing version of Tiger Dashboard.

Other similarities abound from Smart Folders, something OS X has had for years, to the shiny, bulbous icons that simply scream “Macintosh!”

As Apple Software Engineering Senior Vice President Bertrand Serlet put it, “If you can’t innovate, I guess you just imitate, but it’s never quite as good as the original.”

And that’s exactly what Vista does.

With the resemblances to Apple’s operating system, surely Vista also copied its simplicity, functionality and perhaps most necessary of all, security? Well, Microsoft certainly made a valiant attempt in the security department. In fact, they went for the gold, rewriting large amounts of code in a blatant admission of Windows’ prior security flaws. So instead of repairing existing, tested code, Vista includes new, untested code complete with new, untested defects. Microsoft claims Vista will be the “most secure” version of Windows yet. As Forrester Research analyst Natalie Lambert said it best: “There is no doubt that Vista will be Microsoft’s most secure operating system. However, most secure is not equivalent to secure.”

As if that’s not enough, Microsoft must approve all hardware devices that process protected content, including graphics cards. Even after a device has been allowed, Microsoft can revoke the driver at any time. Vista will not support modified devices, and even approved devices are required to artificially degrade their quality or entirely block, any signal output that isn’t DRM protected.

So to quote Serlet again: “Underneath it all, it’s still Windows.”

Bryan Goldberger The Daily Reveille (LSU) U-Wire