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Windows Vista Week 2: The Week of FUD

We are now in the second week of the Windows Vista launch and the FUD (Fear Uncertainly and Doubt) being spread by those that compete with Microsoft is reaching amazing proportions. Apple, in their Mac vs. PC campaign is taking all kinds of shots at the system and wound up getting Bill Gates so excited he actually called Steve Jobs a liar in a NewsWeek interview. The campaign does say some questionable things which we’ll explore at another time but let’s check how the Vista launch month is going.

Vista Security: Holding Well

Given this product was almost an open challenge to hackers it actually has done very well when compared to any of its Windows predecessors. The only reported problem is the potential for a wave file to take control of the system and this would require folks turn on a little used feature (voice command), position their speakers just right, and then ignore the fact that the voice on the speakers was trying to tell their computer to do things they didn’t want it to do.

If someone is gullible enough to go through that kind of trouble, it probably is simply easier to tell them you are from eBay and ask them to load something evil or simply give you their credit card number. But the month is still young and folks are still working furiously to find a way into this product so more, and perhaps more credible exposures are likely to be found. For now it does seem to meet the claim that it is the most secure form of Windows yet.

Vista DRM: Tempest in a Teapot

I’m seeing a lot on how DRM is breaking Vista and how it is evil and people aren’t getting what they paid for. This is pure FUD. Right now the only stuff that appears affected is Blu-Ray content which requires HDCP. Given there are probably 5 people with Blu-Ray drives on their Vista boxes, this doesn’t seem to be hitting many people and it is the same problem you’ll have with a Blu-Ray DVD drive and it is part of the Blu-Ray specification. HD-DVD may eventually have this problem as well, but for now, the HD-DVD content doesn’t seem to require HDCP.

DRM only applies if the content owner builds it into the file as a component. I’ve seen posts from folks who have not yet run Vista that suggest you can’t share or view the High Definition content you have created yourself and that isn’t true. Unsecured personal HD content seems to work just fine and remains DRM free based on my own hands-on experience.
It is interesting to note that Steve Jobs has come out against DRM in general and while we might question his motives, the goal is a good one and I too believe DRM is a failed strategy that punishes only those that legally buy music and movies. This still seems incredibly stupid to me.

Driver Support: In Process

A lot of drivers still aren’t complete for Vista yet. Belkin’s drivers aren’t cooked, NVIDIA hasn’t released final drivers, and sound drivers are still missing for some boards. It isn’t unusual for a lot of folks to wait until a new OS ships before working to finalize drivers. As I’ve suggested in the past, waiting 2 or 3 months is generally best for a new OS like this unless it comes with new hardware or the operating system comes from your OEM (who will make sure the drivers are already in the package). Obviously, if you get this on a new PC you shouldn’t have this problem, but those that upgrade may have these problems and the longer you wait the better the upgrade experience will be.

Right now, given NVIDIA was the first to have a DirectX 10 card, the fact that they don’t yet have final drivers for that part is a little troubling. However the recent ATI driver drop seems to work just fine (at least on 32-big Vista).

Application/Game Support: In Process

As with drivers, not all applications and games work yet on Vista. The most visible application that doesn’t work right now is iTunes. A number of people are arguing that this is by intent because so many others who make similar offerings have been able to get their products to work on the platform timely. Since Apple clearly doesn’t want people to buy Vista, this delay could be intentional which is in sharp contrast to how Microsoft treats Apple with Office for the Mac. Microsoft actually tries to be rather aggressive on Apple’s new platforms and that team, when they can’t be, complains that Apple doesn’t give them enough lead time (Apple isn’t good about sharing major moves).

Both World of Warcraft users and City of Heroes (which is what I play) are running into graphics problems, with the exception of the ATI stuff as mentioned above which is working OK and I’m sure there are other games having issues as well. This once again supports the “wait a few months” theory for these problems to resolve themselves or dual boot for awhile (I’ve noticed the folks I play with who are using Vista boot into XP to play games right now).

I started using Norton Internet Security for Vista right at the start and it has been an incredibly pleasant experience. It actually seems to not only do the job but not annoy you to death while doing it. McAfee however, was a nightmare. Not only did it break my test system but I couldn’t remove it without completely reinstalling the operating system. This was actually a surprise as it is more typical to have security product problems during the first few weeks of a launch.

Other products that seem to be working very well include InterVideo WinDVD 8 with the Vista patch, and PerfectDisk 8.0 which seems to do a nice job of defragmenting my drives in the background.

PC Testing:

Currently I’m running Vista on a Toshiba Intel based laptop, an HP AMD based laptop, a quad core AMD desktop with SLI, and an 8 core Intel system with NVIDIA graphics. The product is stable on all systems and the only physical problem is an audio driver that won’t work on the new 8 core desktop from Intel (and it just out of the lab).

Conclusion:

Vista is still being cooked and should be in vastly better shape in 60 to 90 days, we’ll revisit this at the end of the month. Until then it provides a good experience for those that like to tinker or for anyone buying new hardware but, even here, it will get better.

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