Thursday, August 16, 2007

Upgrading to Vista?

If you haven’t upgraded to Vista yet, sooner or later you will have to either by default (when you buy a new computer) or you bought a computer late last year and Dell or HP gave you a free offer to upgrade to Vista.

Vista is no show stopper in terms of new features and even the much hyped Aero interface doesn’t really elicit the *wow* factor that Microsoft touts in its ads. Frankly I expected more given all the hype and 6 years of development.

But then again, as a software developer, I can understand that taking a leap from a mature and fairly good operating system like Windows XP can be a major challenge. Apple’s OS X was a major jump from OS 9 and that upgrade certainly elicited a *wow* across mac lovers. The major jump was not just due to a fancier user interface, it was also due to the change in the underlying platform of the OS (from Apple’s homegrown OS to the Next OS based on Unix). This was essentially a replacement, not an upgrade.

Maybe this is what Microsoft needs to do --- a complete replacement instead of just an upgrade. For those of you who have upgraded to Vista and have seen the problems of incompatible hardware and software, an OS replacement will mean even more incompatible hardware and software.

The problem on Microsoft’s side is their 90% share of computer operating systems in the world. It will be a very challenging task to move such a large number of users to an OS that works very differently and is mostly incompatible with their current hardware and software.

Even Apple’s jump to OS X was painful and they only had a 3% share of computer operating systems a few years ago (they’re now at 6% and climbing). If such a move does happen from Microsoft, Apple’s share may jump even higher as some would consider just changing to a different OS altogether if the new OS from Microsoft will essentially be like moving to a new system.

But since that is not likely to happen anytime soon, here are some tips on upgrading to Vista. Get a machine with a multi-core processor, lots of RAM (2 Gigs), a graphics card with at least 256 Megs of RAM, and a big hard drive (250 MB to store all your pictures, and even bigger, 500 MB, if you’re storing videos). And if you want to treat yourself, get a big wide-screen flat panel monitor. Prices have come down dramatically and you can now get 19 inch monitors for less than $200, and 22 inch monitors for about $300. Your hard drive and monitor choices will be limited for laptops but you can get an external hard drive and unless you don’t care about portability, go for the biggest screen available.

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