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Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Dave!This is probably one of the worst days ever, even though I got a new router and have internet access again.

For reasons I won't dwell on, it became necessary for me to have access to Microsoft Windows Vista. My POS Dell PC (which imploded a few months back) didn't seem to want to install it, so I was left with the option of either buying a new Windows machine, or installing Vista on my Mac (something I swore I would never do). Since time was of the essence, and the idea of having to buy a new PC filled me with dread, I decided to just bite the bullet and defile my Mac with Microsoft's latest abomination of an OS...

Dave Parallels

I used a Mac program called "Parallels" which allows you to run Windows right along with Mac applications on the same screen. It's not the best Windows experience, but it is the most convenient. It allows you to start up Windows and shut it down almost instantly, which is pretty slick. Windows apps even appear in your Dock...

Windows Vista

This does nothing to make me feel better about running the Windows OS on my beautiful Mac, however. I just feel so... unclean. Kind of like I need to drink a bottle of Scotch to forget or something.

Anyway, I've put a superficial review of Vista in an extended entry. In summary, it sucks ass. If you want the details as to why I feel that way, feel free to read onward.

Now, as far as Windows goes, I am not a big fan. I find it clutzy, distracting, ugly, and altogether inelegant when compared to the Macintosh. Vista doesn't really improve upon this much, which means you are fighting the user interface constantly while trying to get stuff done. Finding examples of this is all too easy. Take a simple text search on a web page. With Windows, you get a search box much like you do on the Mac. The difference is that a "not found" result ends up generating yet another dialogue box to get in your way and clutter up your workspace...

Microsoft Vista

In order to search again, you have to dismiss the error box and start over. On the Mac, you don't have this mess. The "not found" result is flagged in the same box, the search text is highlighted to be replaced with a new search, and you are instantly ready to go again...

Microsoft Vista

As I said, elegant. It's little touches like this that make using a Mac such a better experience, and illustrate my biggest problem with Windows. It just keeps getting in the way. The more you use it, the more you see how bad it is. Even worse, it's confusing. Unlike the Mac's unified menu bar, Vista sprinkles menus everywhere (a step down from the Windows XP which preceded it). Half my time is trying to find out where everything is, and then targeting them with my mouse once I find them. I think these are called "ribbons" or something like that, but what they really are is clutzy and annoying.

The good news is that the new Internet Explorer 7 respects minimum width and maximum width CSS settings, so Blogography finally renders as intended (I'm one of the lucky ones... some sites are so messed up with IE 7 that they're non-functional)...

Microsoft Vista

Unfortunately, while it renders correctly, it still manages to look crappy. Text is difficult to read and tends to disappear, even on Microsoft's own MSN site...

Microsoft Vista

What compounds the problem is that everything in Windows is distracting. Just downloading files off the internet generates a window with flying papers and a pulsing green bar with strobe effects. And heaven help you if you have to download more than one file, because Windows generates A NEW WINDOW FOR EACH DOWNLOAD! I ended up with a handful of these stupid things all animated and pulsing on the desktop which is something nobody should have to endure. And note that we've still got DOS lurking in this "modern" OS with drive letters still hanging on...

Microsoft Vista

And then there's the Mac, which has ONE simple window no matter how many downloads you've got going on...

Microsoft Vista

But the biggest sin for a graphical-oriented guy like me is that Vista is just plain fugly. They tried really hard to make it look all slick and modern, but they did it in the worst possible way. All the candy-coating actually ends up piling on more needless distraction (much like the earliest versions of MacOS X). Take, for example, Microsoft's horrific plagiarism of Mac's "Dashboard Widgets" which they call "Sidebar Gadgets." Even putting aside the cluttered implementation, the "Gadgets" themselves are just f#@%ed up...

Microsoft Vista

Needless glossy effects that are inconsistent with the shading for the rest of the interface are coupled with blurry, incomprehensible graphics that render this "Gadget" totally stupid. I compare it to the elegantly simplified and beautifully crafted Mac version, and marvel that they could get it so wrong considering it's just a copy...

Microsoft Vista

I could spend pages giving dozens more examples of these annoying flaws, but it basically boils down to the same things shown above, over and over again: Windows Vista is clutzy, distracting, ugly, and altogether inelegant. About the only thing going for it is speed. Vista's interface seems noticeably faster than OS X. Unfortunately, since it's so much more difficult to use, the speed benefit is totally negated. I am far, far more productive on a Mac than I could ever be on Windows, almost as if Microsoft had designed it that way.

I remain adamant that if Microsoft were to ever come up with something really amazing, I would have no problem switching to Windows... an Apple Whore I may be, but an Apple Zombie I am not. The problem is that there's nothing noteworthy in Vista that gives it any kind of edge over a Mac. And when you factor in that Apple will be releasing their new OS in a few months, that just makes Vista kind of sad and dated, despite having just been released.

In the end, I was just expecting so much more than what was delivered, and Vista isn't a view I want to take.

Categories: Apple Stuff 2007Click To It: Permalink


  1. Kapha says:

    Are the extra dialogues due to using IE6/7 specifically? I won’t use Vista forever if possible – just curious – I use Opera9 and FF2 on WinXPPro and really enjoy them, especially Opera.

    My favorite “feedback” dialogue was the one that shook left-right like it was non-verbally saying “no” – thought that was the best! πŸ˜€

    My impression from all the articles I’ve read so far is that Vista is basically a multi-billion-man/woman-year total non-event. Could be the biggest sign of the inevitable demise of M$… interesting…

  2. NetChick says:

    wow, definitely not a ringing endorsement… but I wasn’t planning on adopting vista for a while anyhow.

    then again, i’m buying a new pc (and putting it together, thankyouverymuch) and i might perhaps put a dual boot on it, just to get adjusted (eventually)

    then again, i’m too lazy to even use caps in this comment, so the likelyhood of going to that effort is pretty apparent. Heh.

  3. GΓΆran says:

    But was it easy to deal with Paralells? I have to maintain/support work that has apps only available in the PC. Unclean as it may be, bringing one laptop with me seems so much better.

    I just got my brand spanking new Mac Book Pro!! Wohoo

  4. Anthony says:

    Good review. I’ve yet to touch Vista and probably won’t be for the forseeable future.

  5. Sergio the frenchie says:

    What a waste of time !
    Even if it’s “new”
    Windows still Windows !
    Like the coke Zero… it’s new but still untasty !

    And what abominable operation you’ve done to your Mac !
    I hope you will purge yous sin !

  6. Ben says:

    I’m surprised Dave I really am. I expected your vista review to be glowing! πŸ™‚

  7. Neil T. says:

    Oh well, at least you’re running it in Parallels so you only have to use selected bits of the OS, not the whole shebang. I’ll probably be buying Vista when I have the cash, simply because I still need to use Windows from time to time, but OS X serves me well.

    By the way, Vista technically does not have DOS, in the same way that Windows 2000 and XP didn’t. They do have a command line, but that fills the same role as Terminal in OS X; it looks like DOS but isn’t.

  8. Kyle I says:

    “This does nothing to make me feel better about running the Windows OS on my beautiful Mac, however. I just feel so… unclean.”

    I feel that way everyday every time I log in to my computer at work. It’s like I need to be decontaminated. Or at least take a shower.

  9. Jacquie says:

    I am so glad you posted this. I read every bit of it because I will soon be in the market for a new laptop and I wasn’t sure which direction to go. I have never used a mac but all the Justin Long commercials have me intrigued. I only knew one thing about Vista. It is not complatible with Itunes. That’s a huge bummer in and of itself. So I need to do more research on Macs. I’m such a sucker for advertising but for such a big purchase, every personal experience helps.

    You don’t work for Apple, do you? πŸ™‚

  10. Avitable says:

    I plan on sticking with XP for as long as I can.

  11. Dave2 says:

    Kapha… The sad thing is that Microsoft originally had some pretty impressivr features lined up for “Longhorn”… but they were stripped away when Longhorn became Vista. This OS could have been so much more than it is, which is just lame after a 10-year wait.

    NetChick… I just don’t think Vista is a step-up from XP. Sure they gave it a somewhat new look, but it’s simply not much improved from my perspective. So unless you are dual-booting into Linux or something, you may want to try Vista before installing it.

    GΓΆran… Congratulations! Parallels is not perfect. The video and sound drivers are pretty bad right now. In order to fix this (if video and sound are important), you should use Apple’s “Boot Camp” which does no emulation whatsoever, and runs Windows native (with the Aero Glass Windows theme). However, I am sticking with Parallels, because the “Virtual Machine” approach is SO much more convenient. No rebooting required… Windows is available instantly. Also, you can have multiple VMs, so Vista and XP are available without any tricks.

    Anthony… It’s not that Vista is horrible… it’s just not worth the upgrade cost (especially if you are going to have to get new hardware to run it!).

    Sergio… Unfortunately, I cannot. I must have access to Windows from time to time, and this is the easiest way to do it. πŸ™

    Ben… Nobody wanted it to be a glowing review more than I did. If forced to use Windows, I’d at least like to note have the experience be so painful.

    Neil… Then why have the old antiquated drive letters?? When I see “C:/” and “D:/” in a modern OS, I just don’t get it. That’s old-school DOS going on. If DOS isn’t there, why are the drive letters? And, arguably, being able to drop into a Unix terminal in OS X is far better and more powerful than the DOS “shell” you get in Windows.

    Kyle… It’s a sad reality that Microsoft’s global domination means some Mac users who have to dwell in that world will always be chained to it in one way or another. πŸ™

    Jacquie… Everybody has a different opinion. Some people actually prefer Windows over a Mac. My suggesting is to go to a Mac store and give a Mac a try before buying one. After an hour of seeing how much more elegant and simple it is to work with, you may never go back! πŸ™‚ And no, I don’t work for Apple… I am quite the Mac Whore though!

    Avitable… Probably a smart move. I actually prefer XP over Vista… probably because I am more familiar with it. A crappy new look does not a new OS make… despite what Microsoft would have you believe. πŸ™

  12. Mr. Gates says:

    superficial is right

    you don’t mention all the changes that make vista a safer and more secure os even more secure than your precious mac

  13. Dave2 says:

    In other words, Microsoft finally fixed security issues that should have been fixed a long time ago, and has decided to charge major bank for a new OS so their customers can get decent security? That’s scary.

    Actually, there is serious debate as to whether Vista is really any more secure than running Service Pack 2 on XP, and many people have written this off as hype. Since most of the changes to Windows ARE superficial, they had to come up with SOMETHING to sell as a feature… and since security has plagued Microsoft for decades, I guess this makes sense.

    As for Vista being more secure than MacOS X… I have no way of confirming or denying that. I guess only time will tell? πŸ™‚

  14. Joefish says:

    It’s a little bit unfair to blame all of Internet Explorer’s shortcomings on Vista. True, IE7 comes along with Vista, but no one’s forced to use it. People can still download Firefox or Opera or whatever else they please. No matter how tightly Microsoft tries to integrate the two, IE is still just an application.

    That said… yeah, Vista really blows.

  15. Rick says:

    Have you seen the newest Mac ad featuring the PC with Vista installed? Sunglasses-wearing security guy in the background, asking PC to approve every greeting/response during the conversation. Hilarious! I may have to invest in a Mac just to make sure the commercials keep coming!

  16. Miss Ann Thrope says:

    Dave, that is sooo nothing.

    My stepson has this installed on his machine. His stepfather is a MS um, employee (IE: he sits home all day and makes 9 million dollars.)

    Anyway, I played with it for approximately 5 minutes.

    In 5 minutes, I was told I didn’t have permission to:

    1. Delete an icon

    2. Open FF (I didn’t have administrator privileges. Unfortunately nobody does because upon install, it didn’t ask for an admin account to be really)

    3. I got an error message that generated an error message…I am SO not fucking kidding.)

    4. Downloading some kind of widget or whatever, from MS, yes, MS, I was taken through what I assume was comparable to a 12-step program, in order to install it…I must have said yes to 8 different boxes. MS, in it’s infinite wisdom, doesn’t recognise it’s own stuff as safe.

    5. Throughout all of this, I was told I was in imminent danger of a nuclear attack, rape, burglary, a martian invasion and possible computer take over.

    And that was in less than 20 minutes.

    Dave, you have no idea.

    Also, are you capable of reformatting your mac? Cuz honey, you need to get that shit off of their pronto. Really.

  17. Bogup says:

    like Jacquie I’m in the market for a new machine and have been waiting, and waiting to see what Vista could offer. your evaluation has pushed me over the top towards a Macbook pro and now I will just await the upcoming Leopard release and buy one. no one, and I mean no one, seems excited and positive about all the new “bells and whistles” of Redmond’s new OS. it is a memory hog, gives little else more than some security enhancements, and costs a bundle. I hope Mac is ready for ramped up production because it is going to be a big rush toward them like none other in twenty years, imo. all thanks to Vista. Thanks Bill!

  18. Miss Britt says:

    Thank you!! I feel so vindicated now!!

    I just bought a new PC and refused to get the Vista upgrade and no one around here can understand why.

    Now I can tell them all “listen, Dave says so too, so fuck off”

    I should get shirts made.

  19. Dave2 says:

    Joefish… Actually, I kind of agree with you here, because I had thought about that before I started writing this entry. In the end, I decided that Internet Explorer, for better or worse, is indicative of the philosophy (or lack thereof?) which went into the Vista interface. I thought it would be much more unfair to use FireFox as a showpiece for Vista’s unimpressive nature because it is only using the interface elements given it by the OS. However, now that I have played around with Vista a bit longer, I see that the elements I despise in IE are, in fact, everywhere. So much about Vista could have been better in function and appearance had the team responsible simply detached themselves a bit and asked serious questions… like… do we really need animated flying paper AND a light bar AND a strobe to communicate a file is being moved? It’s clutter. It’s ugly. It’s unnecessary. And, worst of all, it’s a distraction for no good reason. Unfortunately, it’s everywhere, which is why (in my mind anyway) Vista fails so miserably.

    Rick… As Miss Anne points out in the comment after yours, that commercial is not joking. It really is like that. After an hour of all the senseless intrusions and extra dialog warnings, I quickly began to wonder what percentage of a Vista-user’s day is wasted dealing with this crap. Again, Vista is more intrusive and disruptive than any version of Windows which precedes it, and I can’t imagine a business environment being happy with the wasted time.

    Miss Anne… Fortunately, Vista is running safely in a “virtual machine” and is safely tucked away from my Mac until I need it. I honestly wouldn’t have believed it was as bad as you say if I hadn’t spent a few hours last night -just-trying-to-get-stuff-done- and experienced it for myself. The horror. πŸ™‚

    Bogup… Again, Macs are not for everybody, and are not perfect (though their quirks are far, far, far less intrusive and annoying). Anybody considering a switch from Windows needs to really go to a Mac Store and play with one for a while first. Computers are like gloves, and you need a good fit! πŸ™‚

    Miss Britt… Well, all I know is that I prefer XP over Vista. I’ve set up a second “virtual machine” for XP… that way, if forced to use Windows (and it doesn’t have to be Vista), I can go back to XP and not be quite so miserable.

  20. Karl says:

    Wow, I am certainly in no rush to get Vista. My laptop runs XP and I’m fine with it as is. My next desktop – when I get around to buying one – may very well push me over the Apple threshold.

  21. Dave2 says:

    If I had an existing Windows XP machine, I would absolutely not upgrade to Vista. There simply isn’t a compelling reason to do so unless Vista somehow has new features you must have (and I don’t know what those would be unless it were the Apple iLife knock-offs for photos, movies, and such).

  22. Laurence says:

    I hate to see my blog on IE… It is horrible !!!

  23. Eve says:

    … or installing Vista on my Mac (something I swore I would never do). Since time was of the essence, and the idea of having to buy a new PC filled me with dread, I decided to just bite the bullet and defile my Mac with Microsoft’s latest abomination of an OS…

    Right now, all I can say is you have my condolences.

  24. I haven’t really seen much needed either. People keep asking me, but I don’t see anything significant to make it worth it.

    Anything that it has (that they actually need) was already in XP. And if they’re running something older than XP the machine probably can’t handle Vista….

    (Although today I did just plug in a digital camera into an XP box and they did make it pretty easy to get the photos off and delete them. Not as easy as with iPhoto but still pretty easy. It’ll certainly make my training session go lots easier for me this afternoon!)

  25. Dave2 says:

    Laurence… Your blog looks fine under IE 7!

    Eve… Yeah, my poor Mac may never be the same again. =sniff!=

    Gary… The equivalent tools on Vista for photos and video and such aren’t very impressive. They aren’t even very good copies! πŸ™‚

    Jhianna… I had read that somewhere, but don’t know if people are interpreting the Microsoft EULA properly. The tool to install Vista under Parallels is well-known, and if Microsoft truly wanted to forbid Home Premium users from installing on a Mac, I’d think that they would slap a cease and desist order on the people who make the program. Either that, or Microsoft could easily refuse to activate your copy based on the Parallels drivers in the system fingerprint, but they don’t… my copy of Vista authenticated just fine, and is listed as “Genuine Windows.” If, however, this ends up being true… I will be plenty pissed. I paid for a legal copy of Vista Home Premium, and Microsoft can kiss my ass if they think I’ll be giving them more money to buy “Vista Ultimate!” πŸ™‚

  26. Dave2 says:


    Microsoft Vista


  27. sandra says:

    I saw Bill G. speak on Tuesday — he mentioned specifically (re: Vista and security) that it, like other OS’, was weakest when people were silly about passwords, etc. No mention of his comments about people breaking Macs daily (or monthly, whatever he said a week or so ago), but he did officially pass the security torch to Mundie. He (Mundie) talked a lot about setting boundaries and interoperability.

    For what that’s worth.

  28. Bogup says:

    If your blogography page re: Vista vs Mac gets alot more hits, it may be because of:

    Dave blogography on Free Republic

  29. Miss Ann Thrope says:

    I have a screaming machine but I still run 2K. I doubt I’ll ever upgrade…there’s nothing I need that I can’t run.

    IMO, 2K is the best of the lot. I have XP on my laptop and it’s slow and bloated. Pah.

  30. apricoco says:

    I finally saved up enough to buy a laptop… I did all the research and finally decided that i didn’t want to risk having another machine like my desktop that was unstable.. so I got myself a MacBook… I love it… my only problem is that all of my songs are in my iTunes on my PC and when i went onto the apple suport website it told me that I could hook up my macbook to my pc via an ethernet connection and copy all of my files … except that didn’t work and now my pc won’t boot up… which sucks.. anyway.. i love my macbook i may never go back!

  31. Michael says:

    Last time I was home, my dad was contemplating installing Vista on a new machine he plans to build. He’s been in the computer repair business for 14 years, so needs to familiarize himself, anyway. If he does go with it, I’m happy there’s a new bathroom off the master bedroom where the computer is. Based on your review, and others, I may have to throw up when I try it out myself. And I’ve been using Windows since I remember.

  32. Peggy Archer says:

    Vista is why, when I do upgrade my system, I’ll be installing Linux (I love ya Dave, but I can’t afford the Mac).

  33. Neil says:

    I’m at Dell Headquarters in Austin, Texas and I wanted to comment on the “imploded” Dell laptop. If it doesn’t have the specs to run Vista then there isn’t much that can be done but if there is some sort of a hardware problem with it feel free to contact me and I’d be glad to try and help.

  34. Dave2 says:

    Wow… I wish I had your email address when I was trying to resolve the problems with my dead USB port and fan that grinded constantly in my little OptiPlex box! Dell support for high-end servers is outstanding, but I’ve had terrible luck when faced with problems with your “regular” PCs. I eventually gave up on trying to get things fixed, and ended up buying a mini USB hub, and then jury-rigged my own fan solution so I could use the thing.

    As for Vista, the problem is not Dell’s fault… I think the requirements for running it exceed what my little PC can handle. I didn’t think the computer was that old, but apparently it is. πŸ™

  35. Bec says:

    Our IT department told me that (thank God) it won’t be installing vista anywhere on our network for at least a year… So by the time we get it at work we should have the service pack 24,356 or whatever, that fills some of the holes. But if Vista only builds on the annoying intrusive behaviour of XP then I may have to amp up my ‘Mac or leave it alone’ campaign.

  36. doctawife says:

    Well, as a doctor and a heavy PalmOS user, let me tell ya – no Vista for me! Multiple e-mails have come out from our affiliated med school stating that most PalmOS products that rely on syncing don’t work with Vista. This is a problem when pretty much the ONLY reason I have a Palm is to use ePocrates – a frequently updated drug database.

    No syncing = no good. My hospital has also stated that it won’t be upgrading anytime soon ’cause most of the clinical software (patient tracking, digital x-rays aka PACS, lab data, order entry stuff) also won’t work with Vista.

    Basically, anything useful in my professional life is not compatible with Vista. What a waste.

    On the plus side, we did get to see Bill Gates on the Daily Show when Vista was released. That was kinda neat.

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