Poor Little Vista


Windows Vista just celebrated its second birthday and by the looks of things, the operating system will only be a footnote in the history of computing technology.

Sandwiched between the popular Windows XP and what is expected to be a fairly significant upgrade in the form of Windows 7, it seemed little Vista never really had a chance to make a mark in this world.

It certainly didn't win many friends in the enterprise. Barely 10 percent of the market had embraced Vista by the end of last summer, according to Forrester Research, although that number could rise to a third or even half by the time Windows 7 comes out, probably in the next year or so.

But even while some experts are telling enterprises that it's time to face the music and make the upgrade, the practical realities are against it. Vista simply offered too little benefit for the significant hardware and training costs it required, not to mention the odd incompatibility issue here and there. Sure, you get a prettier desktop, but XP was a good workhorse OS that did its job with not much fuss or muss.

Sadly, though, Microsoft has a way of, well, getting its way eventually. Take two of the company's recent moves as examples. While the company says it will offer XP-to-W7 "upgrades," that apparently only applies to the license. Windows 7 will still require a clean install, meaning that you'll have to back up your data and then migrate it into the new OS-not a fun job. Vista users-at least those with pre-installed versions-will get free upgrades.

There's also the matter of the upgrade blockers. Microsoft announced that both the Vista and XP upgrade blockers are due to expire this spring. For Vista users running shiny new machines, this isn't a big deal since they've probably got ample overhead to accommodate the upgrades. Those with older machines running XP, however, may quickly find that memory and other resources aren't as plentiful once eight years' worth of upgrades come pouring in.

This is really shabby treatment on Microsoft's part, but what else is new? Rather than deliver a product that people actually want and that is perceived as valuable, Redmond resorts to browbeating its customers again. We can only hope that Windows 7 actually does provide a step up in capabilities so the entire process can be seen as at least marginally worthwhile in the end.

Then again, since it's time for an upgrade anyway, I hear Mac OS is pretty good, and Linux.