There have been lots of interesting complaints recently from users of Microsoft and Apple operating systems about the latest releases of these systems. The nicest take on the Vista problem is this satirical review which treats Windows XP as an ‘upgrade’ to Vista. “I have finally decided to take the plunge”, it begins. “Last night I upgraded my Vista desktop machine to Windows XP, and this afternoon I will be doing the same to my laptop.”
The results, needless to say, are positive. On ’system performance’, for example,
Well, here there appears to be no contest. Windows XP is both faster and far more responsive. I no longer have the obligatory 1-minute system lock that happens whenever I log onto Vista, instead I can run applications as soon as I can click their icons. Not only that, but the applications start snappily too, rather than all waiting in some “I’m still starting up the OS” queue for 30 seconds or so before all starting at once. In addition, I have noticed that when performing complex tasks such as viewing large images, or updating large spreadsheets, instead of the whole operating system locking down for several seconds, it now just locks down the application I am working on, allowing me to Alt-Tab to another application and work on that. I am thrilled that Microsoft decided to add preemptive multitasking to their operating system, and for this reason alone I would strongly urge you to upgrade to XP. With the amount of multi-core processors around today using a multitasking operating system like XP makes a world of difference.
In addition, numerous tasks that take a long time on Vista have been greatly speeded up. File copies are snappy and responsive, and pressing the Cancel button halfway through actually cancels the copy almost immediately, as opposed to having it lock up, and sometimes lock up the PC. In addition, a lot of work has gone into making deletes far more efficient, it appears that no more does the operating system scan every file to be deleted prior to wiping it, and instead just wipes out the NTFS trees involved, a far quicker operation. On my Vista machine I would often see a dialog box from some of my video codec’s pop up when deleting, moving or copying videos. No more, now all that is involved is a byte transfer or NTFS operation.
Automatic Updates has also gone through a performance facelift in that it no longer hogs your bandwidth when you’re surfing, a nice touch.
Disappointment with Vista has echoes over in the Apple world too. The latest release of OS X (codenamed Leopard) has not been an unalloyed success. For example, Charles Arthur, the Technology Editor of the Guardian, wrote an interesting piece on his experiences with the new system. In a nutshell, they have made him consider ‘upgrading’ to the older version of OS X.
Now, Leopard has some nice cosmetic improvements. But my system sometimes freezes inexplicably after I’ve disconnected it from a network or after it wakes up. It’s unpredictably slower. Sure, my computer is three years old, but Leopard should run fast enough on it without occasionally pausing for what seems like geological epochs. And whereas five years ago I could go weeks between reboots, now I’m lucky if it’s days. These weren’t problems I had with the previous incarnation, Tiger; hence my consideration of a downgrade, like so many users. Other people have found all sorts of problems, not just the security flaws or frustrating behaviour of the Spaces virtual desktops program…
Interestingly, I haven’t seen comparable cases of Ubuntu users being cheesed off by the latest version of the software. Now why could that be, I wonder?