My Dad's Reaction to Windows Vista

My dad saw Windows Vista for the first time this weekend (as family was up for my wedding). To him, it was more than just a bit foreign. He wanted to show me how Lockergnome was showing up in his Web-based inbox – and yes, we’re quite aware of the formatting problems as of late (but I only have so much time, and so much expertise on hand).

Then he accidentally closed the browser window, and got confused. Not only was Vista new to him, but IE7 as well. I had to point out where the “forward” and “back” buttons were located. No, the big blue orbs aren’t as intuitive as Microsoft may lead you to believe. Have you done the Vista “father test” yet?

His first reaction to the entire (very limited) experience was negative. Too many things had changed without clear benefit to him. Sadly, I feel this is the biggest problem that Windows Vista faces in the coming months; there’s no clear reason to upgrade. Mind you, my dad still hasn’t set up the computer I sent him a few months ago – that (in and of itself) is a daunting task for him and millions of people. I’ve even considered shipping him my 24″ iMac just because I know all he has to do is plug ‘er in and go. His legacy software is what’s largely keeping him locked inside a Windows world.

And Vista doesn’t make him feel good. “Authentic, Energetic, Reflective, and Open” is Microsoft’s Aero ethos. The UI succeeds (somewhat) in these four places – but whatever happened to “Intuitive” and “Easy” and “Fun” and “Functional?” Nobody knows for sure, but these pilars are certainly not shipping in Windows Vista!

Maybe my dad might get used to Vista eventually – if he even gets around to upgrading his current system from Windows XP (which will likely be the next time I visit my parents back in Iowa). Let me put it to you this way: he wasn’t jumping up and down and insisting that he get a new PC with the new OS installed on it. Hardly. Vista? Eh.

[tags]vista, windows vista, aero, user experience, user interface[/tags]

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.

  • Gerry Lanning

    First, this form does not conform to autofill standards. The name goes in the e-mail box and the e-mail goes in the URL box.

    Second, Lockergnome is looking pretty funky in just about everything. It seems to be formatted assuming everyone has a huge monitor. Some pages can’t be read on my 20″ because the sidebar on the right covers up the text.
    The formatting is all jumbled whether in Firefox or my web-based inbox.

    I know you probably know all this and it’s not that big a deal. It’s just annoying. I know your plate is pretty full right now, but I thought I’d join all the turds letting you know about the problems.

    Congratulations on all the changes in your life,


  • Fred Stocking

    I have just ordered several bumper stickers for myself & friends “YOU DON’T NEED VISTA”

  • Don Crowder

    Chris, take another look at “plain old” Debian Sarge. If your dad’s got to ascend a learning curve anyway, why not give him an OS that’ll get better every year instead of one that gets closer to obsolescence. Yes, there are some things that a serious geek would dislike about Debian but if all you want to do is surf the web and check your email, and you have a fast connection, Debian rocks. Consider:

    When you update, with Synaptic, you’re updating the OS and every software application installed on the system in a single step.

    You have a choice of Gnome or KDE “right out of the box” with other choices available from the repositories. I’ll add that my wife, Lisa, really loves the help files in KDE and insists that they are far superior to those available in Windows XP.

    The software apps are not the “latest and greatest”, they are the most recent versions which have demonstrated long term reliability (i.e. passed the “test of time”). I’m a 58 year old geek and I love playing with newfangled stuff but when I sit down to write email or surf the web, I don’t want “bells and whistles” I want reliability and proven security.

    Software, software, software. Honestly, just go to the Debian website and look at the list of software applications available from the Debian repositories. Understand, everything here is “two clicks” away from being installed on your computer; that’s all there is to it.

    I keep hearing people complain that “Linux isn’t ready for the desktop” but their complaints are mostly about work-related propriatary features that don’t yet have an analog in Linux or leading-edge mondo-geeky stuff that is still awkward, difficult, or nearly impossible for entry and mid-level geeks to accomplish in Linux. Anybody who’s paying attention knows that big-time geeks are doing things in Linux that the competition only wishes they could do, but that’s not my point. Linux is ready, and more than ready, for the home user.

    I like Debian because I’ve had no trouble at all installing and running it on older 200-500 MHz computers that wouldn’t even boot up with newer, nicer, more highly publicised distros and, once the installation is complete, if the computer runs slowly on Gnome or KDE I can have XFce installed and running, by default, in a matter of minutes.

    Beyond every other consideration is something that money can neither buy, nor intimidate. It’s a simple idea that’s becoming a firm reality. I’m not going to climb up on a soapbox and repeat it all, one more time, because if you haven’t heard it yet then you’re actively not listening but for an old geek like me who loves nothing more than the opportunity to learn something new, Linux in general, and Debian in particular just feels good. Every day I spend some time feeling awful because I want to contribute more and I just don’t know how. I’m not a programmer or a technical writer and I have no pull with hardware makers. I’m just an old geek who likes to write letters. I do what I can. My job here is done.

  • Dave Diels

    I’m not surprised at your dad’s reaction to Vista. I still haven’t figured out XP. In fact I have wondered why every version screws around with everything about the time I figure the previous version out. I spend more time screwing around with the software when I should be doing gainful work or play.
    So, I’ll just say no to Vista and keep using my Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP computers until they crap out. I don’t need the upgrades and that goes for just about every other piece of over priced software I use also until an absolutely have to have comes along.

  • Jack E Walsh

    About three months ago I bought a new computer with windows Vista and it was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. I tried to move the files from my old computer to the new one which compounded the original horrible mistake. Anything I brought over would not work. Now the old computer had Windows XP which ran my scanner, had fax capability, and ran AutoCAD release 14. Vista does none of this. No matter what I tried it took forever and ever. Hells bells it took ten minutes to get Works to show up. Every contact said there would be no compatibility with Windows Vista with all that mentioned heretofore for ever and ever. A call was made to Autodesk, Oh yeah AutoCAD 2007 and 2008 will run with Widows Vista. Those versions of AutoCAD cost four grand each. Got an extra four grand layin’ around on the coffee table?? A call was made to HP and they told me my hp scanjet 3970 would have to be scrapped and a new one purchased to run with Windows Vista. Wait a minute, I got it figgered out: Collusion!! Anyway, I resurrected my old computer, spent days and days figuring out how to make everything work again, and then one day … by God … everything worked. Actually that’s lie. I spent hours upon hours, days upon days and dollars upon dollars talking to gurus and geeks on the phone, the closest of which was in Calcutta. I searched and searched the internet in hopes of finding someone who’d had and solved problems like mine. And guess what? Every computer glitch I’ve ever had has been had by a thousand other folks. But there are damn few solutions. No wait a minute … that’s another lie. Almost every computer glitch I’ve ever had usually elicited the response, “Damn, I never heard of that.”
    Somewhere along the line I was told that my directory was corrupted but to stay away from that because messing around in there might really mess up my computer. Might? MIGHT?? The goddam thing was already screwed up beyond belief.
    Into the directory I rode at a full gallop and after about two weeks of eight-hour days I began to see some slight improvement. All I need to do on a computer is write stuff, send and receive email, send faxes, and use AutoCAD. Nothing more, nothing less. Mission accomplished. I now know more about a computer than I ever wanted to know. And believe me; I do not understand a damn thing about what I know. The bottom line is: stay away from Windows Vista and send Bill Gates a nastygram. I hope Microsoft loses their hat, ass and shirt.

  • Jim Cook

    Just a note to express my opinion regarding Vista.
    First I did my homework when designing a new computer and got hardware considerably more powerful than required. that included an Antec 900 box, a PC Power & Cooling 750 silent power supply. Then I got a DFI Infinity CFX3200-M2/G mother board with an Athlon 64 X2 +5000 proc and 4 gig of corsair DDR 665 ram in dual channel config along with 2 ATI Radeon X1950 Pro cards in Cross Fire configuration. I also Includes 3 Western Digital Caviar drives totaling 1TB. Powerful enough.
    Second I got drivers and/or verified compatibility of all my hardware. I only had problems with the Maudio Midiman 2X2 Midi interface. I was forcedd to go with the Edirol 3&3 Midi interface as Edirol is much more punctual about providing current drivers. M audio still doesn’t have a Vista Driver for the Midisport 2X2 despite it being current in their catalog.
    Third I checked and if necessary upgraded/replaced any software not compatible.
    The end result is a machine using vista 32 ultimate which has been totally reliable with only one problem. All other versions of Windows had a way to direct midi signals to an MPU401 output to send them to a Midi interface. Vista is missing that ability. at present the only way I can direct Midi to an external device is by way of Cakewalk Sonar 6, which works ok, but a bit bulky and has no way to play several songs in sequence. Hopefully someone will fix that. Meanwhile, I can live with that.
    Jim Cook