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A few errant thoughts on Vista. Now — don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Vista basher, I actually think they’ve done some impressive things with this operating system. I’m just thinking some thoughts out-loud here.

Performance? This is intriguing: A recent Microsoft-sponsored study of a number of PCs, most of which had at least a gig of RAM and 256Mbs of video ram, has come to the conclusion that “Overall, Windows Vista and WIndows XP were roughly equally responsive on most test operations.” PDF link here (via Paul Thurrott).

This test uses “average” response times. Since we all know that an arithmetic mean can be misleading, you need to delve into the data itself to check it (as a general note: always delve, no matter the source).

It’s not necessarily a bad study. However, looking over it (and aggravatingly, it’s “locked”, so you can’t pull data easily into a spreadsheet for analysis), the low-end machine is an HP 1320y, with 512MBs of RAM (but 256MBs of video RAM). This seems to also be “System C”, which does not show the best results. There are a large number of machines that have 512MBs of RAM or lower (52% of machines are 512MBs, according to PC Pitstop). You can see some more PC stats here, as well as a survey of Vista-ready machines here. Is it a big deal? Probably not. Memory is cheap.

Another factor to consider is that all of the machines in the test except one had 256MBs of video RAM. That’s actually a fairly chunky amount of video RAM — my powerhouse system here at the office only has 128MBs of RAM.

What is Vista’s performance on the typical system you see out there in the wild? How important will hybrid hard drives be?). And what about battery life for notebooks, using Aero?

Bugs? We’ve been working on porting our apps to Vista and it seems to some of us that OS may have been rushed to market. There are bugs. But ok, that’s to be expected with a first release.

DRM? Vista has a lot of DRM features in it. Has Microsoft has sold out the consumer in its attempt to implement DRM by the rules? As Bob Lefsetz says about Zune “…if you play by the RIAA rules, you’re DOOMED to failure.”

Security? Vista is promised as the Great Security OS. However, the very fact that Microsoft has basically thrown down the gauntlet to the hacker community, promising it as a big security upgrade, may mean that hackers will take great delight in finding holes in the operating system. And no matter what you do with security, you still can’t get around the social engineering problem — something that Macs, PCs and Linux systems all share alike.

Personally, I’ll stick with XP for some time until all the kinks are worked out.

Your thoughts?

Alex Eckelberry