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The Computer Buzz January 18th, 2007


Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact
ory
 

 

Hasta La Vista, Baby!

Microsoft's latest OS (operating system), Vista, is scheduled for release at the end of this month. What is Vista and what impact will it have on PC users are questions we are asked every day. The short answer is that the gradual transition from XP to Vista will have little effect on most of us.

Since we opened The Computer Factory in 1995 we have witnessed introduction of no less than five Microsoft operating systems. Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 and XP. The introduction of each new OS is always hyped and ballyhooed by Microsoft and the companies who sell computers.

Each new OS is touted to be a major technological breakthrough that will radically improve your PCs performance and capabilities. These claims are never true. Each new OS does establish a higher-level platform for future applications software improvements but no OS ever provides immediate, significant performance improvement. Indeed the new OS is typically more trouble than it's worth for the first year and a half.

Twelve to eighteen months after introducing a new OS, Microsoft invariably releases a major "bug fix" package. For Windows 95 it was called "revision B," Windows 98 named it "Second Edition," Windows ME was so crappy that it didn't survive long enough to be "fixed." Windows 2000's major fix was "Service Pack IV." For Windows XP it was "Service Pack II."

Since it is prudent to avoid the newest OS until Microsoft fixes all the bugs, why doesn't everyone just wait until Microsoft gets it right? Microsoft makes it difficult by forcing all the major PC sellers (Dell, Compaq, HP, Gateway, E-Machine, Toshiba, Sony, IBM, etc.) to switch to the new OS as soon as it is available. They can do this by refusing to sell them operating system licenses for any OS except the new one. Anyone who purchases a PC from Dell, Compaq etc. after Vista is released will become an unwitting Guinea Pig for Microsoft.

There are several ways to avoid "Vista-itis." There are nearly 10,000 small computer builders like The Computer Factory in the USA. Since we buy our OEM licenses (original equipment manufacturer) through distribution and not directly from Microsoft, we can continue to produce Windows XP PCs as long as we choose. All our new PCs are "Vista Ready" and the XP operating systems come with a Microsoft certificate entitling users to a Vista upgrade. This protects our users from suffering the teething problems associated with Vista's early history but allows them to upgrade when Vista is debugged.

Windows XP has been around for over five years. It's an excellent, stable OS. Applications software and peripheral device producers have had plenty of time to fine-tune their products to work smoothly with Windows XP. Someday we will be able to say the same thing about Vista, but not this year and probably not next year.

If you want to be one of the first to buy a Vista PC, go right ahead, but remember, "It's always easy to tell the pioneers by the arrows sticking out of their backs."

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