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Breaking Three Vista Myths

You know where I stand on Vista, so let's look at three horrible misconceptions about the OS.

Shattering all previous records, my recent column, "Standing Tall on My Vista Soapbox," racked up more than several dozen reader comments in only a week. It's evident that the debate regarding Vista's worth in business networks is still raging more than a year past Vista's release.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love a good debate as much as the next guy. I'm particularly excited to hear all the great comments on both sides of the fence. The readership here at MCPmag.com is full of enlightened people with real-world experience, and every "pro" and "con" argument so far has been grounded in excellent experience. But I still see some misconceptions about Vista that I feel need more open discussion.

Plus, it's always enlightening to keep the conversation going, and columns like this tend to do just that...

XP is Better Because XP is Faster
Every Microsoft operating system released to date has, in many ways, underperformed the OS it replaces. Windows XP was slower than Windows 98. Windows 2003 was slower than Windows 2000. Vista is most definitely slower than Windows XP.

But all of these comparisons are done using today's hardware. OSs are designed to be long-lasting software entities in a hardware world bound by Moore's Law. Some of today's desktop computers have a hard time swallowing Vista's hardware requirements, while at the same time they run Windows XP with great performance. But Windows XP was released in 2001, then designed to push the envelope for the hardware of 2001. Moore's Law has struck five times since then, doubling computing power every time. We'll see the same story with this release as well.

Heck, if XP is better than Vista because it's faster, then the argument holds that Windows ME is even better still!

Vista Causes Application Conflicts
In a way, this argument is partially true, but for all the right reasons. Prior to Vista and unlike virtually every other modern day OS, Windows was unique in that drivers and applications enjoyed direct kernel access (also referred to as "Ring 0"). This direct access brought about great levels of application compatibility, but at the cost of system security and stability. Vista removes that direct access and, as a result, many applications and virtually every driver broke and required redevelopment.

It is because of this change that Vista's initial release found many application conflicts. Some remain today. But where end users see broken applications, Vista's kernel sees improved security, a lessened need for patches over time, and improved reliability as poorly written applications are less likely to take down the entire system.

Vista Provides No Compelling Features to Drive an Upgrade
While Vista's outward benefits may be hard to locate for the end user, its improvements to manageability and security make it a compelling upgrade.

Vista adds enhanced firewall capabilities that make firewall use both on and off the domain operationally feasible. Advanced firewalling implementations such as Domain and Server Isolation and Network Access Protection are also now within the realm of possibility. Vista increases by over 40 percent the number of elements manageable through Group Policy. It adds more layers of protection for Internet Explorer through Windows Integrity Control. Above all, it aids your vision during troubleshooting through its enhancements to the Event Log, Memory Diagnostic Tools and Reliability & Performance Monitor, all the while speeding your ability to repair faults through its WinPE-based installation.

It's obvious that I'm a big fan, but it's your opinions that matter most. Do you have thoughts or experience to the contrary? Please continue sharing your impressions about Microsoft's newest desktop OS either in the comments or through e-mail.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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