WinXP vs Vista: A systematic refutation

I don’t know how many of you read Courier Press, but in mid-April someone published an article about the adoption of Windows Vista, and the merits of letting Windows XP go.

Have a look through the article, then come back to this point and continue reading, as I am going to provide an analysis of this blurb.  For clarification: anywhere I make use of the second-person “you”, I am referring to the author of this article, Mr Justin Williams.

“Microsoft gave its old operating system a stay of execution after listening to feedback from consumers and industry partners.”

Wow, Microsoft is listening to its customer base?  You say this as if it was a bad thing.

“…any other major manufacturer will be forced to adopt Windows Vista as the operating system.

I assure you, it won’t hurt.”

Given the large outcry from consumers and critics alike for Windows XP to stick around, and the very fact that you used the word “forced” in your article, it seems like there is a very widespread sentiment that Vista is simply off its rocker.  Forcing consumers to adopt an upgrade when the majority opinion attests that the original is of higher quality smacks of poor business practices.  In fact, any corporation employing this practice which did not hold an untouchable majority on the market would be out of business in a flash.

I assure you, it does hurt.

“It’s frustrating to read other technology columnists and magazines recommending that consumers keep installing XP on their new machines. XP was released in October 2001.”

Non sequitur.  While the rule of thumb has certainly become that old technology = bad technology, this is overly vague and generally misleading.  Old technology is old technology, and new technology is, generally, better.  This does not make old technology bad.  Just old.  And this does not take into account the fact the operating systems are continually updated to ensure they are equipped to handle the latest technologies and threats.  Serivce Pack 3 for XP was released on April 21 of this year, three days after you wrote this article, Mr Williams.

“As a point of reference, the original iPod was released in the same month.

The first generation iPod had 5 gigabytes of storage, a black-and-white video screen and was as thick as a pack of cigarettes. Today, it’s much thinner and has 160GB of storage. Or, you can buy the more advanced iPhone.”

Not to be rude, but who cares?  I had an original iPod for a year well after the 80GB models were released, and it worked great and could play all the same songs the new iPods could.  What more do you want?

Oh right.  Movies, podcasts, more options, and a higher price tag.  Right.

“The amount of innovation between Vista and XP is no less. Vista introduced improved search and browsing support in the Windows shell, improved stability and sidebar Gadgets.”

Browsing support exists in Windows XP.  The search is usable, and there are programs that can be downloaded for free to augment it.  Improved stability?  I would need examples and empirical evidence, as every Windows Vista user I know says it crashes as often as XP did.  And sidebar gadgets could also be installed in XP by way of free third-party software.

Can’t exactly agree with you on the “innovative” part, Mr Williams.

“More important than the superficial updates, Vista is a more secure system than XP, which can help reduce malware and viruses.”

Again, there is no empirical evidence in your article to support your claims.  Critics and research points out that any improvements in security in Vista are through obscurity.  The UAC is an abomination, almost making Vista less secure by annoying users to the point of disabling the interface entirely, or simply allowing everything without further inspection, not to mention the UAC-emulation that malware can employ.

No, Vista is just as exposed as XP.  Sorry to disappoint.

“Vista is the foundation for the future of Windows-based computing. Recommending to someone purchasing a new computer, one that he plans to use for the next three to five years, to install XP is irresponsible.”

How very arrogant of you.  XP is a mature product, stable and well-supported, and will certainly continue to be so through the next few years.  Windows 7 has already been announced, slated for release in the next three years.  One can stick with proven technology until then; other than DirectX 10, Vista offers nothing that Windows XP cannot do on its own.

“One of the main arguments against Vista is its speed compared with XP. Most PCs shipping today are built with a minimum of 1GB of memory and a graphics card capable of running all the bells and whistles offered by Vista. XP will run faster on these machines, but only because it was designed for machines running on 2001 hardware. Pentium 4, anyone?”

Have you actually seen how much memory Vista idles with?  I don’t want my operating system to use up half the memory on my system when I’m in graduate school trying to model biological systems in real-time!  Furthermore, the latest versions of linux releases like Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian, and even Unix-based operating systems like FreeBSD and OS X all run speedily on modern hardware, pretty close to the speed with which XP executes.  So what’s Vista’s excuse?

“Others argue that Vista isn’t compatible with all printers and third-party accessories purchased in the past decade. Look at it as an opportunity to upgrade your antiquated hardware with the latest offerings.”

So, yet again, you espouse shelling out more money for technology that doesn’t work quite as well over sticking with technology that does work, and for free.  It seems like giving into Microsoft’s demands is how we should approach things, based on what you’re saying.

“If you’re still using a peripheral that doesn’t connect via USB, it’s time to send it to the recycling center.”

Agreed.  And last time I checked, XP supports all USB peripherals just fine.

“For those who remember, the jump from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 was just as substantial. We all survived then, and I promise we will get through Vista together.”

We survived, because even though Windows 95 crashed while Bill Gates was demo-ing it to the developer community (that was hilarious), it was a vast improvement over Windows 3.1.  That’s the difference.

“Vista is not without its flaws, but it’s not the worst operating system Microsoft has ever released (I’m looking at you, Windows Millennium).”

Bill Gates was interviewed this past year regarding Vista, and he was pointedly asked if Vista was the worst operating system Microsoft has ever released.  He responded, and I quote, “Ask me when the next version comes out.”

“If you are purchasing a new machine, stop fretting over Vista and start embracing it.”

Only one question: how much did Microsoft pay you to write this?

I am not saying that Vista is a wortheless operating system with no merits whatsoever.  I am saying two things, Mr Williams: 1) Don’t dispose of something that works simply because a newer version is released.  Newer != Better. 2) For the love of all that is good still left in this world, provide some empirical evidence to support your claims!  Your “evidence” appears to be nothing more than blind opinions, almost as though it was written someone in Microsoft’s advertising department.


About Shannon Quinn

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2 Responses to WinXP vs Vista: A systematic refutation

  1. eksith says:

    “I assure you, it won’t hurt.” Well that proves how much his assurance is worth…

    I wonder how much this nincompoop had to grapple with simple things like ghosting multiple systems or running a group service for a cybercafe. With XP (couple of years ago) I had the setup up and running within a couple of hours. With Vista, it took a whole day!

    Newer is not better… And that’s not even tech sense, but common sense period.

    And a few choice comments on that page :
    “Windows XP Simply WORKS! Period. Case closed.”
    “I know my next machine is going to be a Mac.”

    And probably one of the most reserved responses…
    “Justin, the reason that no one else writes good articles about Vista is that it simply doesn’t perform as well as XP.”

    The real funny thing is that even Vista is headed for the chopping block. Windows 7 will be down the line in a couple of years, making Vista the shortest lived OS since WinME.

    So most people will be upgrading from XP to Win7 (if it’s any good) and pretend Vista never even existed.

    Truth be known, both OS’s are not that much different when it comes to security. XP has it’s own share of devestating vulnerabilities, and Vista (though they made it ridiculously difficult for users to find them) had settings that made the system a sieve. But these are no excuse to get into trouble.

    Bottom line, the PC, though it needs to be secure too, shouldn’t be the basket with all your eggs.

    By the time any virus or worm enters your network, you’re already vulnerable. The best way to stop any intrusion is at the firewall. Not the computer. It’s like trying to plug a dam with chewing gum once a crack is visible. I do run AvastAV on my Win PC and ClamAV and Snort on the Linux box, but this is a secondary line of defense.

  2. magsol says:

    The only (meaningful) differences I know of between Vista and XP are as follows:

    1) Vista is purtier. (the meaningfulness here is disputed)
    2) XP has a much smaller footprint.
    3) …I got nothing.

    Truly, Vista is XP with a facelift and enough pointless bureaucracy to rival the United States government.

    Some of those comments really cracked me up. Especially the one about buying a Mac. 😛

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