For CIOs who’ve listened to years of hype about Microsoft Vista, a potentially aggravating new phase begins tomorrow — the onslaught of comments and questions from your colleagues and acquaintances who load the new OS on home PCs.
Microsoft released the enterprise version of Vista in November, 2006, but most people will try it at home first. As predicted, enterprises are taking their time with this upgrade, for reasons including Vista’s hardware requirements, significant interface changes, and a hard-won belief that with any Microsoft OS, it’s wise to wait at least until the first service pack. (See CIO’s complete Vista coverage for more details, plus the latest news and analysis.)
But the consumer versions of Vista hit store shelves tomorrow, January 30, so brace yourselves. From now on, when one of your users buys a new home PC, chances are, it will be running Vista. (Unless, he or she has joined the Apple camp.) Here’s the lowdown on some hot-button issues you’ll hear about:
1. Vista Looks Really Different
Cosmetically, Vista represents the biggest Windows change people have seen in quite some time. We’re talking Joan Rivers facelift here, not just a little new lipstick. For example, basic landmarks like the Start menu have changed. Also, you can now alternate between screens using a new feature called Windows Flip 3D. Hit Alt-Tab and this new option shows thumbnails of each Window you have open in a 3D stack for your perousal.
2. I Upgraded My PC, and It’s Not Running Faster
For people who want to add Vista to their current PCs, Microsoft offers a downloadable tool that tests if, and how well, a PC can run Vista. Many people will need to at least add memory to get peppy performance. For the consumer versions, Microsoft recommends at least 512MB of memory, an 800-MHz processor and a graphics card with DirectX 9 support. But Dell advises that if you want to use Vista’s new Aero interface, which can be turned on or off, you should really plan on 2GB of memory. That’s one reason Vista’s prettiest looks won’t show up on enterprise desktops this spring.
3. This Puppy’s Got Some “Issues”
Vista may not play nicely with existing anti-virus and security programs, and some other elderly apps will cause trouble, for example, due to device driver incompatibilities. Via Slashdot, early Vista users are reporting hitches related to CD and DVD burning. And Microsoft has already issued an email asking for suggestions for Vista’s first service pack, querying pre-release users participating in Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program (TAP), my IDG News service colleague Jeremy Kirk reported last week. Microsoft hasn’t given a firm date for that service pack.
4. I Don’t Know My BitLocker from My ReadyBoost
Microsoft has thrown a lot of new jargon at Windows users with this release, plus the usual array of versions, both of which will confuse people. Is your favorite free-tech-suppport mooch going to know what “ReadyBoost” is? Nope. Not to be confused with an energy drink, ReadyBoost is Microsoft’s new scheme that lets you “borrow” extra memory from a USB flash drive to improve your PC performance. And “BitLocker”, the Vista encryption technology that laptop users will want in case they leave their laptops at the airport, is included in the ultimate and enterprise Vista versions, but not the less expensive ones.
5. My Neighbor Scored a Bootleg Copy on the Net
Too bad it’s malware in disguise and about to turn his PC into Spam-zilla. As my IDG news service colleague Robert MacMillan reported last week, about 50 percent of the “free!” Vista downloads popping up on the Net are – surprise – malicious Trojan horse programs. Lucky new owners of supposedly “pirated” or “cracked” versions of Vista will get key-logging and spyware programs, among others.
After the dust clears, check back here in a few days: Let us know whether your users are gushing or griping about Vista.