Windows Vista: Living in the shadow of XP

Windows Vista

It’s been almost seven months since Windows Vista was released to retail customers, and so far, sales figures haven’t been that good, with an estimate of two years before Visa sales overtake those of XP.

Why all the trouble? With Vista being Microsoft’s first major OS release since XP debuted over five years ago, one would expect that people would be desperate for a change. Turns out, however, Vista doesn’t really offer much more in the way of practicality over XP. Furthermore, performance issues are perhaps the biggest flaw in Vista that is preventing its widespread adoption, despite other claimed reasons. For the average person, upgrading to Vista just isn’t worth it – and with the recent problems with WGA servers, people may end up having more than just resentment for Vista.


From a personal experience, performance thus far is the major reason I haven’t switched to Vista yet. There is a clear disadvantage to running games within Vista, which translates over to general use as well. Whether it’s due to immature drivers or Vista itself is debatable, but the end result is the same: a less-responsive experience for the user. When you’re paying money for something, getting less is a smack in the face.

From my own personal experience, Vista was noticeably sluggish on a three-year old system of mine, consisting of an AMD Athlon XP 2500, 1 GB of RAM and a Radeon 9500 Pro. After booting up, the OS would continually access the HDD, for reasons unknown. Applications felt less responsive, and I generally felt that I had moved to using a slower computer. This computer ran Windows XP with SP2 perfectly fine – no sluggishness and no constant HDD thrashing. I did, however, lose the Aero interface and the new window-switching-preview features.

The slowdowns and performance issues reported with Vista are not FUD by MS bashers – they are real, for the time being. Furthermore, the benefits that Vista offers, such as DX10, are of no direct benefit to me currently. (Gamers will also wonder why Vista is needed for DX10, when games currently run slower with it)

The future holds promise

With Vista SP1 in the works, things are looking better. A review of a leaked pre-release version yielded some interesting results. Generally, performance was increased quite a bit, with this quote summing it up:

Thereโ€™s far less hard drive thrashing and in general the system seems much smoother and more responsive.

Though you could argue that MS should have corrected these flaws before the original release and not leave it for a service pack, it’s still nice to know that Vista will have this major error corrected. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be released until 2008.

Though, one should remember that XP also took a while to mature. It was only with SP2 that XP really gained the stability that an OS should have. I guess that’s an inherent problem with computer hardware being as complex and varied as it is nowadays – it can be hard to have an OS run perfectly on every single configuration. Hopefully SP1 for Vista won’t be delayed so that early adopters don’t have to suffer from sluggish performance and compatibility problems for much longer.

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