Windows Vista is getting a bum rap. The media is painting a picture of Microsoft's new operating system as a pretty version of XP with few new features that users will care about. This is the same media that greets every new ".1" release from Apple as if it were the second coming of Jesus H. Christ. These reviews of Vista are so off base, so ill informed, and so superficial that they border on gross negligence.
I'm not even sure on where to begin analyzing these "reviews". Cnet's review, which gives Vista a "7.8", calls it a "warmed over XP", and makes multiple flat out factual errors. They claim that "most of Microsoft's [security] improvements in Windows Vista are within the Enterprise or 64-bit editions," which is a completely ridiculous statement.
There are no security features that Enterprise has that any of the other versions of Vista do not. (Indeed, this "review" was about Vista Ultimate, which contains every feature from every version, with the 1 exception which I'll mention in a minute.) Vista x64 contains a single feature that the others lack, kind of. Vista x64 restricts kernel mode driver installation to signed/certified drivers only. That's it.
Cnet goes on to state that there are no "big-name software packages written exclusively for Windows Vista". Wow, considering it hasn't even officially launched yet, that's a bit harsh.
Cnet criticizes the new Start Menu and search functionality, stating that they "would have preferred to have access to Search directly from the desktop rather than digging down a level or two", no doubt referring to Mac OS X's Spotlight field in the titlebar on the Mac desktop. Let's see, on the Mac I need to hit COMMAND + SPACE, or click in the field, to start searching. On Vista, I hit the Windows key and start typing. How, exactly, is that different? If anything, Vista's search is easier to get to.
Cnet continues to make factual errors by claiming that "aero is part of the Windows Presentation Foundation, a subgroup of the .Net Foundation Framework, an underlying foundation for developers to build new applications.". Um, no, it's not. Aero has nothing to do with WPF. Aero is a theme in Windows Vista. Nothing more. They even make the very confusing claim that "Aero is necessary to create Microsoft's new, Adobe PDF-like file format called XPS (Extensible Page System);", which is completely untrue.
Cnet shows how incredibly inept they are by then criticizing User Account Control while simultaneously plugging OS X. They state that "While UAC notifies you of pending system changes, it doesn't require a password. The Mac operating system does something similar but requires a password--that's security." What? First of all, UAC only doesn't prompt with a password IF YOU ARE AN ADMIN.
Administrators in Vista are treated like regular users in every way (in fact, they are regular users) except that they don't have to type in credentials in UAC prompts. If you run as a non-admin user, you have to type in the credentials of an admin complete the UAC prompt, just like the Mac.
Unlike the Mac, however, Vista displays these prompts on a secure desktop. This prevents malware from fooling you into authorizing something you didn't want to authorize by simply displaying a fake dialog over the real one. The Mac has nothing like this and is theoretically open to all sorts of spoofing malware attacks. Is that security? If the Cnet team had spent any time researching Vista they would know this.
They go on to say that "the jury is still out on whether Internet Explorer 7 is more secure than, say, Firefox 2", which I would agree with, but they neglect to mention anything about protected mode IE, which is a great security innovation from Microsoft that suggests that IE 7 will be, by far, the safest modern browser you can use.
Cnet's review makes many unsubstantiated claims about Vista's performance, calling it a "resource hog" without ever backing up that statement. (And no, you can't just look at Task Manager's RAM stats and use that to justify your opinion.)
Cnet's review was pretty much inline with many other sites, such as Time.com and even Tom's Hardware. (And don't get me started on Walter S. Mossberg.) Time, for instance, closes their review with the seemingly insightful musing that "translucent borders are all well and good, but out there in the jungle, no one cares how pretty you are." No kidding. If you guys were so concerned about Vista's security, why didn't you spend a little more time researching the many innovations and improvements Vista has in terms of security instead of trying to come up with more ways to mention Apple in your review? They have the gall to title their review "Windows Vista: why nobody cares." Maybe nobody cares because you guys have done a good job spreading FUD.
These people completely neglect to talk about hundreds of Vista's features which will end up really changing the way we use computers. Whether it's the fact that Vista will usher in the world of IPv6 (via it's support for PNRP), or how it will change the way applications are written and deployed for Windows via technologies like WPF/E and WCF. They almost universally ignore great technologies like ReadyBoost, SuperFetch, and ReadyDrive, all of which will make our computers feel zippier. And they're oblivious to things like Sideshow. And don't think that's the full list of features they're ignoring. It's not. For a full list, check out this excellent Wikipedia article.
Windows Vista is a great OS. If Apple was releasing an OS with this many new features they would be called geniuses and would be praised for ushering in a new era of computing. But Microsoft is not Apple, and so instead we get this FUD.
To be fair, there were a couple of decent reviews of Vista. One of them being from Paul Thurrott. Was his a complete review? No. But it wasn't willfully ignorant like the other clowns.
Please, go upgrade to Vista. Ignore these idiots. You'll be happy you did.
Update: Be sure to checkout the 2nd part in my series of blog posts about The FUDing of Windows Vista!