The InformationWeek Vista Roundtable: Part Four - InformationWeek

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The InformationWeek Vista Roundtable: Part Four

Six of our readers wonder whether there's really any "Wow!" in Vista, talk about increased security, and discuss the role of operating systems.

To find out how Vista is being approached in the trenches, we invited six readers to a week-long roundtable discussion. Participants included:

  • Dennis Barr, Mgr, Information Technology of the Larkin Group Inc.
  • Marc Chester, Vice President, Business Development for Data Reduction Systems
  • Bill Flanagan, an independent consultant in IT and particularly networking.
  • David Gray, Vice President for Information Technology & CIO and CEO, UMassOnline for the University of Massachusetts
  • Chris Rutkowski, IT Manager for Reliant Behavioral Health
  • Wayne Wengert, a retired programmer/IT specialist
In the first segment, the participants introduced themselves and offered their initial opinions about Microsoft's new OS. In the second, the participants discussed the inevitability of Vista as the standard for personal computing and whether users will accept alternatives to Windows. In the third segment, they went into detail about how developers can take advantage of Vista, and examined problems with specific apps and processes.

In this, the fourth segment, they talk about their reactions to the Vista experience, and go over the look-and-feel of the new operating system.

Wayne Wengert: I found a very interesting articles this morning about MIT warning staff not to use Vista. It's another case of "We haven't checked to see if key apps work correctly..." Hello! I also learned something important in the article about NASA warning its employees that Sleep mode bypasses some BitLocker protection while Hibernate does not. It seems there ought to be a way to either block Sleep mode or re-configure it.

Based on the many comments I've read this week I believe the following guidelines will be my rule-of-thumb for Vista installations:

  • Make sure all system hardware is Vista compatible
  • Purchase pre-installed Vista whenever possible
  • Verify that all key applications work in Vista
  • Check -- and then re-check -- that you have Vista compatible drivers for all components
  • Test, test, test -- then do another test
  • Users will need lots of support for the transition -- plan on it.

Dennis Barr: As far as articles about organizations and businesses refusing to upgrade to Vista at the present time, I would say this caution is warranted. But come on, folks; this is just good advice anytime a new version of Windows comes out. Even with all the effort that Microsoft puts out to get vendors and ISVs on board, there's always a lag in getting fully compatible products to market at the same time as the new Windows hits the streets.

The Windows Vista Roundtable

•   Part 1: First Impressions

•   Part 2: The Inevitability Of Vista

•   Part 3: Vista For Developers

•   Part 4: Is Vista A "Wow!"?

•   Part 5: Final Thoughts

•  Join The Discussion

Some of my remarks over the last few days may have sounded overly hostile to Microsoft. They really aren't (they're just hostile enough), but I do hold Microsoft to a fairly high standard. Their products have seldom been best-of-breed, but they are, to quote Jerry Pournelle, "good enough." They get the job done, and they do improve over time. The fact that they're the market leader that they are comes as much from hard-headed business decisions, good (but not great) marketing, persistence, and their developer network, as from the quality of their software.

They love programmers. The more their tools and languages are used by the millions of coders out there, the more Microsoft-oriented products come out. This symbiosis has worked for them for a long time. In fact, it's my opinion that some of the security flaws that Microsoft's products have been infamous for have been the direct result of an attitude on Microsoft's part of, "Look at the cool stuff we can do with this code!" This attitude is being moderated with Microsoft's new emphasis on secure code, but I think the developers at Microsoft, and those who use their programming tools, are still excited about cool new things.

Where I find problems with Vista is that it isn't what it could have been. It's not enough of a "Wow!" experience for me, because I've seen the same sorts of GUI goodness using WindowBlinds, and various versions of Linux for that matter. The Office 2007 interface make-over, on the other hand, is disruptive, and potentially beneficial. There's no question in my mind that it's going to slow down long-time users at first, but it may ultimately pan out to be more productive. New users probably will take to it like ducks to water. The interface standard is being made available to other developers, except for those writing Office-like apps. Who knows, AutoCAD 2009 may sport this interface; I can't say that that would necessarily be a bad thing.

Bottom-line, I'll give the Office team a whole lot more props than I'll give the Windows Vista developers and their project managers. Vista=stale, Office=cool.

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