Vista is alive and kicking

Despite what the obituaries might say, Vista is faring well -- and it still soundly beats XP

Microsoft has kindly extended its XP "downgrade" program for OEMs by another six months. Rather than appreciating the extension, some people have chosen to mock Microsoft and call for the curtain to close on Windows Vista once and for all.

Even my esteemed colleague Randall C. Kennedy wrote in his column entitled "Die, Vista, die!" (tell us how you really feel, Randall) that for him, "Vista's demise was a foregone conclusion". Personally, I get so much hate mail whenever I write something positive about Vista that I shy away from the subject. Well, in the words of Michael Corleone from The Godfather: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

Allow me to share with you some numbers that come from a Vista Tracking Poll conducted by CDW through Walker Information. They used an online survey, and participants included 772 IT decision makers who identified themselves as being familiar with Windows Vista. Here were some of their key findings:

  • 48 percent of respondents indicate that their organization is evaluating, testing, or implementing Vista. That doesn't sound dead to me.
  • 30 percent of respondents have organizations that are currently implementing or have already implemented Vista.
  • 50 percent of the respondents said Vista is performing "above expectation" on key features.

Given that most of what we read is how worthless Vista is, one must wonder: What could they possibly about this wretched OS that is doomed to retirement at such an early age? Most of the respondents pointed to security enhancements as the No. 1 feature that attracts them to Vista. Performance improvements, search enhancements, improved networking, and patch management -- these were all high in people's list of features they liked about Vista.

It still boggles my mind that people berate Vista, even after SP1. Mr. Kennedy called it a "pretender to the desktop throne." I'll agree that it may not be all that it was initially hyped up to be, and hopefully Windows 7 can meet the expectations we've been watching and waiting for nearly a decade to see. But how can some of its finest features simply be ignored by critics?

Among them, there are enhancements to Group Policy settings (more than 800 new settings in Vista) that allow for a greater level of administrative control over such items as power use. These days, we are all about going green, and here Vista is an OS that can help us thanks to the added ability to adjust the amount of power your system uses. Other enhancements allow for greater security control within the enterprise, preventing users from plugging in USB devices and other removable media, User Account Control, and more.

Vista also introduces BitLocker protection, which is great for encrypting your entire system. Hundreds of thousands of laptops with confidential company data on them are lost or stolen each year. Without encryption of the drive, it is just a matter of time before a thief can access the contents. With BitLocker, that worry is removed. As a business person -- perhaps one who has had their laptop stolen -- would you mock that level of protection? Most likely not. Can you get it with XP? No. So, even if you didn't receive a feature you wanted in Vista like WinFS (which nobody really understood anyway; it just sounded cool) but did receive peace of mind in the event your laptop was stolen, wouldn't you say that it's worth having?

I can go on and on with features that are a tremendous improvement over XP, features Microsoft developers can be proud of because they enhance our user experience, as well as make us more secure and more productive.

So is this really just about XP versus Vista, both of which are Microsoft OSes? Vista is clearly the superior OS to anyone who takes the time to really use it with an open mind. Just look at the aforementioned survey results where users point out the advantages over XP. It seems to me that this ongoing criticism of Vista by IT journalists has more to do with a desire to rage against the Microsoft machine than it does to speak about features we can use in the enterprise.

I say that Vista is alive and kicking. Enough blabber about the past. It's time for -- dare I say it? -- change. And I don't simply mean a change to XP or the wait for a change to Windows 7 (which will no doubt underperform when compared to users' expectations, as seems to be the trend these days). If you truly want a Mac, go get one. Stop complaining about Vista and change. Or take your PC and install Linux. Or downgrade to XP. But stop the Vista bashing. You 20 people who yell like you are 20 million are really starting to get on the nerves of the 200 million Vista-loving PC users out here who would spend more time debating with you, but we are too busy enjoying our Vista OS and don't have time.

I'm a PC. Better yet: I'm a Windows Vista PC. What are you?

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