HiTek Review

A tons of reviews and tips about technology product, software and hardware.

Tag Archives: Windows

Windows 8.1, The old new stuff

I remember a time where…

It has been a while since I have had the occasion to post something on this blog so, I will start with a little info about me that most of you probably don’t know. I am a developer. While I have written a lot about Apple, I mainly write Windows applications. Why? Because I love C# and the tools that Microsoft give us to do our job.Prior to last year, it was nearly impossible to write an application completely in C# for other platforms which also made it harder for my experience to be useful there too.

This means that I mainly work on Windows and Windows Phone. This also mean that I know a lot about Windows 8 and 8.1. Thus, I have an opinion about what is going on right now in the news and this is what this post is about.

There is a lot of bad press for Windows 8 and 8.1 and I just don’t get it. This is not much of a rant as it is more of an exploration of various popular opinions that seems to direct the web right now.

Lets start with a comparison that appeared back at the release of Windows 8. It goes something like this: “If the car industry where doing what Microsoft is doing, they would swap the brake and gas pedal every 3 years just to follow the trend.” There is a lot of wrong way to respond to this argument. One could say that it took 8 years for Microsoft to release Windows Vista. That is hardly “every three years”. While this is true, it is not a very useful argument. In reality, what Microsoft did with Windows 8 has nothing to do with how you “drive” your computer. If anything, they just added a new radio to your car which support Sirius and have on-steering controls. I am serious here! Let me show it to you.

Seven versus Hate

First, lets look at how many ways there are to open the start menu or start screen in each relevant version of Windows.

For Windows 7, we have:

  1. Click the start button
  2. Press the Windows key

For Windows 8, we have:

  1. Click in the lower left corner of the screen
  2. Invoke the charm bar and click on the Windows logo
  3. Press the Windows key

If anything, that is just more ways to do the same thing, which is not bad in itself. The charm bar is optimized for touch so it makes sense to have an easy way for touch enabled devices that don’t have a Windows key to show the start screen. Now let’s look at one of the things we do the most with Windows.

By default, there is 3 ways to open Internet Explorer (or any web browser) in Windows 7. Here is the list:

  1. Using the start menu: Click on the start button, click on “Internet”
  2. Using the task bar: Click on the IE icon in the task bar
  3. Using the keyboard: Press the “Windows” key, press “i”, press “Enter”

Let’s compare this with Windows 8:

  1. Using the start screen: [Go to the start screen,] click on the “Internet explorer” tile.
  2. Using the task bar: [[Go to the start screen,] click on the “Desktop” tile,] click on the “Internet explorer” icon.
  3. Using the keyboard: [Go to the start screen,] press “i”, press “Enter”

Let us take a look at what changed between the two. You will see that I have added square brackets between a few actions for Windows 8. This is because they are optional. Depending on where you are, they can be skipped. This is very important because it means one thing. Those actions are now contextual. They have to be used in a specific context. If you are in a Windows Store application, don’t go to the task bar to open your applications. For this, you will have to go through the entire chain of actions from the second entry in my list. That is 3 actions. Instead, you should use either the first or second one which are a lot simpler and faster. The same goes if you are already on the desktop. Don’t use the first solution when you can just click on an icon in the task bar.

The keyboard solution is a little special though. I have highlighted the most generic way of opening an application using the keyboard on Windows, but there is an other shortcut you can take. You can simply press the “Windows” key together with the number corresponding to the position of the app in the task bar. So by default, for our example, that would be Windows+1. This works from anywhere, even from Windows Store apps. The next important thing to know about the keyboard solution is that it is so fast (it takes less than a second to open an app with this method) that the amount of keys you press is relatively irrelevant (unless you are a very slow typist). This means that this is a very good way of opening an app even if you are on the desktop because you only have to hit one more key.

There is also a third, very important thing to know about the Windows 8 list. Since it is context based, and that the default context you are put in when you start your computer is the start screen, all of the redundant “Go to the start screen” actions are unnecessary. This is a very important thing to mention because in Windows 7, there are two ways that requires you to be in the start menu and no default context where the start menu is shown. This effectively saves one action for each way in Windows 8 making it simpler to open the application you want. Depending on the context, Windows 8 will then be faster or as fast to do this basic task so long as you use the right method for the right context.

To demonstrate my point, I have chosen the task of opening an application. This is a very important thing because it matches the initial “car industry” argument about driving your computer. The first reason for the Windows operating system to exist is to help you open applications which then let you to do your work. Yes, they changed it. Radically? Not at all. To keep the metaphor running, its as if they found a magical way to make the brake pedal automatically bigger and easier to reach when you really need it. It is still in the same place, you only have less movements to do to reach for it.

The not-so-newcomer

Now that Windows 8.1 have been announced, the news reporters are all flared up at restarting the whole Start Button / Boot to the desktop argument thing. This is ridiculous and brings absolutely nothing good to the industry. Most people will simply read the news and believe that Windows 8 is a flop just because of a missing feature that takes a lot of place in the news but not in their everyday life. I have already demonstrated that there is a start button in the lower left corner of the screen. The only thing is, you know its there. It always been. So why would you need to see it all the time! You don’t need to lose precious space in your task bar for something like that. Could you imagine how painful it would be if all of those contextual menus (the one that appears when you right click on something) would always be visible? The start button is no different. It is contextual. You don’t need to see it all the time just to remind you that you are using Windows.

I would also like to note that, there is absolutely no excuse for “not knowing how to go to the start screen” or not knowing about the charm bar (the search-share-windows-device-setting-thingy on the right of your screen). There are two reasons for this. Either you never noticed the Windows key on your keyboard or you have not seen the very obvious, single-stepped tutorial that is displayed the first time you boot your computer on Windows 8. In the first case, you should definitely take a basic computer class because there will be a lot of things you might be doing wrong and which will impede on your productivity. For the second, it means you are in a very unfortunate demographic group which buys custom-assembled computers from “specialists” who wants to make it easier on you by doing the initial setup for you. These. Ar. Not. Specialists. These are wannabe computer experts and you should avoid them as much as you can. If they are not expert enough to understand that the initial setup is to be done by the end-user (you) with them walking you through each step, then they are not worth paying for. They take away so much of the user experience of the product for you, that you might not even know how to use it in the end. This is also valid for cellphones which a lot of vendors loves to configure them for you when they first insert the SIM card in them. If you upgraded your computer to Windows 8 yourself (which is a piece of cake, really, Microsoft did a great job at it) or bought a new computer from an OEM vendor such as HP, Sony, Lenovo, Asus, Acer or Dell, then you will have to go through that initial setup, and you will have to see the tutorial. There is no way to skip it, even if you leave your computer doing its stuff for a while. It will be there when you come back.

Booting to the desktop is a whole other story though. I don’t know where this trend began, but Microsoft should have never let the user place documents on the desktop itself. They did major improvements in the way files are managed on a computer in Windows Vista. They introduced something called libraries. That was 5 or 6 years ago. This is how you should manage your file. This is the Windows way. If you don’t want to keep your files in those libraries and prefer to dump them by thousands on your desktop, then you should be using something else than Windows. I am not trying to say that you should quit using computers all together, just that there is better file management systems for you than the one Windows has in place. Considering what I have already said about the start screen being more efficient for its main task, having a whole bunch of files on your desktop is the only reason why one would want to boot to the desktop instead of the start screen.

The main reason for having a whole bunch of stuff on your desktop is because it is yours and you just know where the stuff you need is. This is also true in real life, but even if moving out of your parent’s house might have reduced the amount of times where someone would move the one little thing that you need, this is where the similarity ends. When you use a computer, you always are in your parent’s house. At any time, Windows might decide to switch your screen resolution or reorder, add or remove icons from your desktop. Gamers know this well. How many times have you lunched a fullscreen game only to see it change your screen resolution and destroy your desktop arrangement? Too many is the answer. Unless you manage your files the Windows way, that is. If you keep nothing on your desktop, this can’t happen. It doesn’t take longer to get to your important files either. This is specially true with the search capabilities Microsoft introduced, again, in Windows Vista. While in the real world, it takes a lot of time to open all of those nice and tidy folders and cabinets just to find every letter with the words “jane k. bathurst”, it takes less than a second on a computer. Just type “jane k. bathurst” in the search field and pick email or file, whatever you want. The sad thing with Windows 8 is that you lose the ability to cross search between all of you applications (emails, files, calendars, music, etc.) which is not that big of a deal because you can still search for them specifically. Microsoft still added it back in 8.1 with a new search UI that looks absolutely gorgeous and gives you the results for all of your apps, and even web pages, all at once.

Planning for the future

So, is Windows 8 just change for the sake of change? Why should you upgrade when it doesn’t “change anything”? Because that is what I have been saying, right? Well, not exactly. It does change a lot of things. They are mostly minor optimizations here and there, but here is the top reasons why you should upgrade to Windows 8 even if none of those concerns you directly.

  1. Face it, the start screen is better. It displays all of your data that you care about in one place and it handles application management way better than the old start menu. It’s a new twist on a very old concept and it is fun and very practical to use both at home and at work. If you are a fan of the notification center on your mobile phone, then you should love what Microsoft pulled with live tiles.
  2. There will be a time were you will need a new computer. No matter how long you wait, it will happen. If you are still running Windows XP, upgrading to Windows 8 will be a pain because you never had the incremental feel of getting search, libraries, new start menu features, the ribbon in built-in apps, etc. that the users who kept on upgrading had. These users had 12 years to get used to those already. You won’t. The more you wait, the tougher it will get.
  3. Developers will love you. By keeping your devices up to date, you simplify our job by reducing market fragmentation. Most of the time, it is a lot easier (and fun!) to write a Windows Store application than a classic Desktop application. But since a whole lot of you are not using Windows 8 yet, we need to write both if we want a chance to have some sales. This triple and even quadruple the time it takes to write a good application and might end up in higher price points, more bugs or less efficient designs.
  4. You will love you. If you keep on doing your updates, you will gradually get more and more efficient at doing things. Even upgrading will be easy. People will envy you for your superior computer performance and capabilities when in fact, you just use what is there for everyone. In the end, you will just have more time for yourself to do more important things than wait after your computer to do its work.

That’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed this… very large comeback. Take care and see you soon.


Every one apart me is a bloke

And you can’t argue with it!
No! You can’t argue with me about it and even if you want to try, and the only reason why you would want to do such a thing is that you don’t have a clue what a bloke is, then first go to this link to learn what it really means.

Now more seriously. Here’s the little backstory about it. I own a company based in Québec named “Centre de Solutions Informatiques Inc.” or C.S.I. for short. Our team is based on developers and hardware crack that follows 63 technology related RSS feeds that publish around 1 280 news a day. We are basically pure and polished specialist in computers and we’re endlessly learning and improving ourselves. Technology is everything we like, everything we do and everything we live for. We’re so enthusiast that, as I said, we’ve started a company. Yes! That’s how bad we are infected.

We’ve taken a big time looking at the market and I can assure you that in our current service zone, there is just no one that will do a better job than us for better pricing and better time. To do this analysis, we used the latest technology in marketing which is… ours beloved clients! We actually used feedbacks from our clients to build our price tags. Anyway, enough advertising and here comes the story.

One bloke in the see
I (not we) currently deserve personalized services to 2 company and around 25 persons. That’s in fact rather good. But in the end, every single one of my clients keep on… deserting me! Yes! I have absolutely no idea why, but every time they’ve got a problem, they first call me, I then friendly give them consulting and they finally go off like they suddenly knows anything about the computer world, which they obviously don’t, and make an ash of it.

This annoy me so much that it made me write this post just so that I could cool down instead of bashing through the head of one of them that did it an other time just a day before I’m writing this. I will not go into the details to respect his privacy but, he actually made Windows XP installed on an Intel Core i7 computer! Now, if you’re a bloke about computers, which I’m not, you’ll already scream at him because you know that Windows XP just can’t handle a dual core correctly. And this is not a dual core, it’s a quad with hyper-threading which make it even more difficult. You need at least Windows Vista or Windows 7 to handle all of that power correctly but WAIT! Their’s more! This computer is actually… the latest iMac.

I’m not joking. This is true, I swear that this is true! Now I’ll show you an other time that I’m not a bloke in this kind of stuff. You see, Windows XP has horrible power saving features. In fact, it doesn’t support half the the power saving features that are on that brand new computer. Now you’re probably already laughing at me saying that this is a desktop computer and that it doesn’t need power saving features! WRONG! Let me show you my point with a simple table:

Component Avg. consumption
CPU 85 watt
Memory 25 watt
Motherboard 15 watt
Graphic card 135 watt
Hard drive 5 watt
Monitor 50 watt
Total 315 watt

Now that look pretty normal, isn’t it? Nop; This is enormous! I have a server which has a very similar configuration to that and it’s doing 80. My Mac Pro is averaging 145 watts and it has 10 GB or HUNGRY fully buffered DDR2 memory and two old and not very economical Xeon 5400 series CPUs. That’s without counting the supercharged 8800 GT that benchmark like a 9800 GTX!

So, not only does he’s iMac now require a nuclear power plant to run, it also require an earth-sized power supply; which it hasn’t. The 2009 iMac has only a 365 watt power supply. Now you’re still laughing at me saying that 315 is smaller that 365. Well… Yes it is… But, this PSU only has 85% efficiency which move its maximum output to 5 watt less that the average needed. This could cause a problem.

Windows XP will basically kills my client’s computer. That’s how simple it is. By the way, if you’re interested, putting Windows Vista in it would decrease the consumption to 175 watt which is 45% less. That’s without saying that the performance would increase as Windows Vista is much better at handling multiple CPU cores.

The result
Not only this guy had an horrible services that will rot is computer on the mid/long run. It will also cost him 100 $ more to run his computer at the end of the year that it costed him if he installed Windows Vista in the first place. And here’s the interesting part: I didn’t even mentioned OS X yet. And here’s why: I’m not talking about dual booting or anything. The guy actually removed OS X 10.6 and put Windows XP in place claiming that it was a much lighter and faster operating system!

That basically means that my client, who decided to bought a Mac to give it a try, will not even see what OS X look like. Not to mention that OS X has even better power management capabilities than even Windows 7. Running Slow Leopard, that computer actually get down to 95 watt on average use which would save him 160 $ a year just in electricity.

The point
Every single one of my clients do that every single time. They always end up in my office begging for help to solve the issues that caused the idiot that they went to in the first place. And they do that, even when they are old friend of mine. I have absolutely nothing agains competition, in fact I even found it sporty, but when all the competition there is is that… I’d prefer to kick them in the face with a very, very big hammer.

That’s exactly why me and two of my friends started this company. We are so sure about this that we’re planing, building… no… it became hand-crafting, swinging and then throwing that hammer to their faces ourselves the best we can possibly do. We believe that average computer knowledge here in Québec sucks and we think we might just be what the province need to get up on its feet an finally learn how to appreciate that latest gadget that came out without having to ask the vendor how to turn it on.

Flash News: Snow Leopard shipped!

Did you received your copy yet?
I did not… But hey, the package got shipped yesterday (August 27) and with express shipping, I might even get it today! If I do, count on me to do a review of it this weekend. So for those of you how where unsure about if it will ship ON August 28 or FOR August 28, I think you have an answer and it’s the one you where dreaming for 😀

As a side note, the screen cast series will now be about windows 7 vs OS X Snow Leopard since I wont have 10.5 anymore. I’m not sure I’ll have the time to make a new screen cast this weekend but if I do, I’ll keep you posted.

Screen Cast the first

I’ve started a series of screen-cast on youtube that compare some basic features of Windows 7 and OS X Leopard from an end-user point of view. I try to keep a humoristic tone (specially when something goes wrong like in this first video :P). I do one take per OS unless something preventing me from publishing the video happen. The idea is to show how each OS react on a first try. The settings related to the tests where also rested to assure the authenticity of the video.

For the editing part, I try to keep it very close to the original. I will never cut a shot unless it’s preventing me from publishing the video. In that case, there will be a notice in the video. Everything is shot in HD to help you see what I’m doing during the screen-cast.

You can take a look on Youtube if you’re interested. The first part is about some basic file and screen sharing over different network type. Which one is easier to use and what kind of features are to be expected with the DEFAULT OS configuration.

Windows 7 just hit RTM… and P2P

Not even one day after Windows 7 was officially released as RTM with build 7600 , it is now easier to find on P2P network than Windows Vista. Many people already installed it and every one, and I mean every one, can’t be more happy with this release. It seams that Windows 7 will be a very big seller on October 22th when it will get in store. Who knows, it might even be a bigger release than the iPhone 3G S gave us not even two months ago.

For the record, RTM stand for Release To Manufacturing which means that the actual version is the one who is currently being burned to disks. This version is 100% identical to the one you’ll get on the official release. You might wonder why they are waiting so long for this? Well it is because hardware makers are slow to react and need time to write drivers because they generally ignore the time where given on the beta version.

Link to the original article: http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windows7/archive/2009/07/22/windows-7-has-been-released-to-manufacturing.aspx

CSS3, the Internet Explorer way

I just finished reading a very nice blog post about features that can give CSS3 to a web site and I stumbled upon a never ending bunch of comment about how Internet Explorer was forcing web developers to stick with the old CSS2.1. I couldn’t resist and I made a post about it myself. But where the majority of people would only yell at IE, I proposed a possible solution that would unfortunately not solve but help solving the issue. I find it important for people tho know about this so I decided to post it on my blog :

It seems many people hate Internet Explorer and this is good but, why is there so much hate and so less changes? Believe it or not, this is all caused by Windows Vista! Let me explain : Can any one tell me what is the version of IE shipped with Windows XP? Yes! IE 6.

Many people used the “Vista is slow” excuse to not upgrade because they where not able to get a good working copy of it on p2p networks. So they’ve kept their good old cracked XP. Then, here’s the problem. Microsoft prohibit the use of Windows update AND Microsoft update for non genuine WINDOWS users. As a result, these users can’t even install IE 7. Ho yes, they could install an other browser but the fact is that most of them don’t even know what is a web browser, they just use The Internet Explorer.

See? A mix of file sharing, security protections and lack of knowlege cause this masive user base of Internet Explorer. I propose two solutions :

First, forcing Microsoft to remove Internet Explorer from Windows. This is probably not a very good solution. It would indeed force people to learn what is a web browser but then, how would they get one? You can’t just open IE and then go to the Firefox/Apple/Google/Opera/etc. website since you don’t have a web browser. The only solution would be to provide users with an in-store CD version of the browser that would cost a fortune to produce. Removing IE form Windows would also require an extensive rewrite of the OS since it is using IE’s engine about everywhere. And worse, to keep the market fair, Apple who’s shipping Safari with is OS would have to remove it and the same with Linux/Firefox too!

Second, removing the need for a genuine version of Windows to upgrade to newer version of Internet Explorer, forcing the browser to look for update each week and installing those silently without anyway to abort the installation. This solution is much more simpler, doesn’t require a big bunch a money and would help killing old web browser like IE 6.

Since many companie still require IE 6 (like every medical facility in the Quebec province that, beileve it or not, still use Windows XP SP0!) there sould be a way using Group Policy to disable or limit the updating process to let’s say version x and less.

Now you’re thinking : “Why provide a bypass solution when you just said that there souldn’t have anyway to abord the process? Instead, souldn’t we force those company to upgrade their web-software?” NO! The idea is to provide the big majority of people with no way to bypass the update process and provide a way to the IT administrators, who know what they are doing, to keep things working in their Intranet if needed.

It’s all about making money here and I think the second solution is the best to expect.

You might have recognize the first solution. It’s what the European Union expected from Microsoft to do with the release of Windows 7. as you can see, they obviously didn’t took the time to think about the repercussions before putting their demands on the public place.

I hope my solution could solve this problem in a more simple way. In the mean time, I’ll use a little custom, very clever, solution to make people upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer. My goal is not to make you switch on an other web browser. It’s just to make you realize how much stuck in the past some of you can be. From now on, any one who’s going to any one of my website will see a little popup “à la active-x plugin installer” at the top of the screen if they are not using the latest version of Internet Explorer. More information can be found here.

The original blog post

Windows 7 build 7100

I just got my hands on a copy of Windows 7 build 7100. I’ll try to install it this weekend and have it ready for monday. I intend to use the information I’ll collect during my testing for my Windows vs Windows vs Windows series of posts. Maybe I’ll post some hi-res screenshots! Who knows 😀

In the meantime, I’m still working on the second post of the series. I’m not sure I’ll have the time to release it this week. I’m beginning my final exams at my college and it take a lot of time and with Windows 7 to test, there is a good chance that it will be too much.

See you in a week

UPDATE : Test is in progress…
and look promising! There is no that much of new major things (as expected) but there is plenty of bug fixes and optimization to try. Expect a good note on that one.

Windows evolution, Part 1 – History class

Windows, Windows and … Windows?
This post is dedicated to one person whom I talked with on YouTube for about a month. We were arguing about why Windows Vista might or might not be better than windows XP. I finally had to settle the discussion since the 500 character limit was making it go nowhere. My goal here is to expose an objective and detailed comparison between Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. I feel the necessity to include both Vista and 7 since more than 50% may skip Windows Vista and go strait to Windows 7. See this post as a continuation to this conversation. If you want to bring new fact from the dark, fell free to use the comment feature to do so. I’m pretty sure that this post will start a big fight so I’d like to make it clear : “My friend here tried it and said it was crap” is not a fact. It’s an observation and might be based on influenced perception and modified facts.

As an OS X, Windows, ex-OS 9 and ex-linux user, I’m one of the rare person who really are objective from an OS point of view. The fact that I tried and explored nearly every major OS that are and was in use during the last decade in a home user and business user way will serve as a basis on this review. With those knowledge, I’m able to show you who created what, why they did it and how it work under the hood. I will say it right now : Windows XP is definitely not the winner of this fight. That’s why I hope to bring you proves of that.

Before saying anything more, I want you to keep two things in mind : 1. What I just said about facts and perceptions is based on the Mojave experiment and was verified and proven many times; Google for more information. 2. If you don’t already remember them by heart, the release date of every Windows version since 3.1; Wikipedia for more information.

The old days
The first iteration of Windows prior to Windows 95, the OS was just a MS-DOS application with every limitation that it might have. It was a 16bit OS with very limited window management and capability. Then came Windows 95. The major difference was 32 bit support and the arrival the taskbar. Those two features make him a big boy and enabled new software possibilities. Windows 98 added Internet Explorer, some other features and bug fixes but was basically the same “kernel-wise”. At the same time, Windows NT 4 appeared. It used the same GUI but a different, more stable kernel created specially for enterprise. NT 4 was designed to run as a client OS requiring a Windows NT 4 Server somewhere on the network.

The less old days
Many people then upgraded their computer to Windows 2000 thinking it was the new iteration of Windows 98 but in those days, Microsoft had a three years release date time frame. You have to look deeper to discover that Windows 2000 is Windows NT 5. That’s why people found out it was god-like stable. It was an enterprise OS. There never was a Windows 2000 “Home Edition”. You had the choice between Professional, Server, Advanced server and Datacenter server. The major new feature it had which made people think that it was a personal OS was that it supported to run without a domain controller server. Windows NT could now run in stand-alone.

Then, later in the year 2000, Windows ME went out. Microsoft tried to integrate part of the NT kernel in the Windows 98 code base and it didn’t went well. Because of that, drivers had to be rewritten from scratch and hardware vendor generally botched them to release in time for the new OS. This caused a lot of headache and made the OS nearly unusable.

The still not quite current days
October 25, 2001… Windows XP hit the store. This iteration of windows is numbered Windows NT 5.1. Microsoft dropped the Windows 9x kernel and decide to make the NT one available to every one. They merged the end users feature from Windows ME with the enterprise features of 2000, updated the driver models, added a skin and that’s about it. For more than 60% of the Windows XP user pool, there was nothing new in XP aside from a skin and… YES! A lots of headache too! Nearly 90% of the drivers needed to be rewritten, an other time, from scratch because of the new driver models. The first year was a big no-no for XP. A lots of people like me who had a pretty fast and stable Windows 2000 configuration where forced to keep it for an other 6 month. Installing XP on my computer took about 8 hours and in the end, I didn’t even had all the driver I needed. Microsoft broke their 3 years time frame by releasing an early version Windows XP to recover from the Windows ME’s disaster. End result : XP is not that much better!

During the first XP years, Microsoft finalized the product and released Windows XP SP1 one year and a half later… During this time, hardware vendors had the time to make new drivers that competed NT 4 quality and rumors that Microsoft would stop making operating system had the time to spread. SP1 was quickly adopted by all the unlucky enterprise who bought an original Windows XP version. The update made Windows XP work like it always have should and people was happy with it. Just the support for USB 2.0 (released 2 years before) was worth it.

Then, something went wrong. Microsoft decided to add a new feature to the Windows Vista build which required to rewrite the whole OS from the ground up. It’s a well used feature that was, at the time, in every other OS : A Desktop Windows Manager (or DWM). OS X, that was first released on 24 of march 2001, 5 months before Windows XP, even had a DWM called Quartz. Linux had one since before Windows 98! Windows was way behind and some visual glitches that those kind of component solved years ago.

This feature was necessary to make Windows Vista a success so they put it in thus breaking the the 3 years time frame. This is the first reason why Windows Vista was badly accepted by the end users. Since a computer generally have a life span of 4 years, it was the first time people had to buy a new computer without new features excepted from performance gain. From this time, XP was now stated as the fastest OS in the world. On the other side, OS X 10.3 which had plenty of new features, just got out and was the last version before Apple dropped support for older and slower Macintosh G3 computers. Linux started to add memory/cpu intensive visual effects. And Windows was still the same… Same features with the same system requirement as in 2001 but … hey! We are in 2004 now! Computers are about 16 times faster that they where! No doubt XP is running fast on this good old Pentium 4 HT or AMD Athlon XP barton.

Windows Vista build 3790 code-name Longhorn D1
Here we are. A brand new Windows with… brand new driver models! Indeed, to support the new DWM, the video driver model need to be updated. The old audio driver model doesn’t even support more than a 44.1 kHz sampling rate at 16 bit which is CD quality (very bad for DVD or HD movie playback) so it need an update too. The new network stack need a compatible driver model to support network locations, new security features and protocols. The disk controller driver model doesn’t even support the AHCI standard so that’s an other one who need to be updated.

Bottom line, The final version of Windows Vista will be a new Windows ME. Or will it? To prevent this to happen, Microsoft planned a very big promotional event (the bigger ever at that time) and decided to roll out beta version publicly and even encouraged people to try it. That way, bugs that could occurred at release would be remove and requested features and modifications could be added. Indeed, it was the fist Windows where the end user actively participated its development. This was the second reason why Windows Vista failed at gaining market share. Hardware vendors, fearing of all the new features of those driver models, didn’t started to work before Windows was released. This caused the same problem that XP had before SP1 : Bad hardware support. It also cause an other unanticipated repercussion. Yes, people whom tried it was starving to have more. But the others who just tested the beta for a minute, without even knowing the meaning of the word beta, said it was slow and buggy. In one word : crap.

Windows Vista beta 2 build 5600
The beta rolled out for a while and a lot of new features where added to the OS. A great bunch of those features where directly aimed at the home user, copying the Apple’s iLife suite. It was the first Microsoft OS that enabled you to really do something with you computer without buying or installing additional softwares. This was, strangely enough, the fourth reason why Vista was badly accepted. There was an ENORMUS number of new stuff in it compared to any other Windows OS. Still, people expected it to be as small as XP or 2000.

I want to point that OS X is even bigger than Vista requiring at least 2 GB of ram (recommended 4 GB) and eating up to 16 GB of disk space where Vista need 10 GB. In comparison, XP used 800mb when installed from scratch and less than 3 GB with SP3. So if you decided to move to Macintosh because of that, you where mistaken. It’s not how much memory you have, it’s how you manage it and that’s where OS X is better than Windows. Simple applications can take up to 400mb of ram! Safari, for instance, was taking 344mb of ram when I wrote this post and still, everything is fluid.

Windows Vista SP1
Windows Vista, as Windows XP, had bad driver support until SP1. At that time, about 98% of the hardware had Windows Vista’s driver which is 20 % more than XP SP3 actually has. Hardware vendor started to use more and more of Vista’s new capability and began to develop Vista only stuff. Some times, they manage to make it work on XP using custom softwares and a lots of hacking everywhere but those aren’t needed on Vista. You just plug in the device and it work. A good example is Turbo-Memory imbedded in many laptop. Just like Hybrid-Drive, they can’t work on XP since they rely on a Vista technology called Ready-Boost.

Here we are
That’s the end of my history class. I hope you’ve learned something; Maybe like, lets try it with an open mind and then we’ll see. Next time, I’ll continue to go on in time and will talk about some future stuff (aka Windows 7 and OS X Snow Leopard) and will show you some numbers in the last part. Keep in mind that this is not a side by side comparison of OS X and Windows. I just talk about it because I want to show you stuff that you might not have think of before. After this series of post about Windows, I’ll get into the details of why OS X is generally a better operating system than Windows.

See you next week!