From the drawer marked ‘Mark’s unprinted reviews’. It’s the last issue, right?
This is the, er, ‘ uncut’ review of Windows Vista from Mark Pickavance. It’s a special treat for our final issue. Get a comfy chair…
• Price: £350 (Vista Ultimate) • Manufacturer: Microsoft • Requirements: 800MHz processor, 15GB disk space, 512MB RAM, the patience of Job
need to be careful about what I say about Microsoft Vista. I’ve already upset the editor of Micro Mart’s sister magazine CTO by writing a feature suggesting that it might be a commercial misplay for the once mighty Microsoft.
What isn’t up for debate is that Windows Vista, previously codenamed Longhorn, has arrived more than five years after Windows XP, making for the longest period between versions in the history of Windows.
Clearly, things went wrong in the development of this OS, as it crashed through successively expected launch dates like a car in a 70s cop show. Along the way, quite a few of the technological pillars that Microsoft had previously announced got axed, for being beyond the capabilities of the Longhorn team to deliver in any feasible timeframe.
So what’s left? Possibly the best aspect of Vista is that where XP has many features bolted on, most of the new ones are actually designed to be part of the greater structure from the outset.
The interface changes are largely cosmetic, though Aero does at least easily differentiate Vista from XP, even if you can make the two look identical.
The really significant differences are all at the level where the security operates, because rather than patching XP’s Boeing 747 sized holes, Microsoft built a whole new multi-layer security model from the floor up.
This is also the first version of Windows that comes with an inherent antivirus tool, Windows Defender, although those sadistic enough to want to use Norton or McAfee can use those instead.
But security is about more than antivirus tools, and soon enough a new user will run smack into some of the many changes Microsoft made for security reasons that are less than welcoming. User Account Control (UAC) is the darkside brother of Clippy, that annoying animated paperclip that would interfere with stressed Microsoft Office users.
UAC’s forte is to just bug you all the time, asking you if you really wanted to run that application, having seen you move the pointer over it and then double-click! The first time it did this, I laughed; by the 127th, I was looking to permanently disable it whatever registry modifications it took.
While I’m sure this agree-toeverything method worked in the testing labs, it won’t work so well when most people in sheer frustration have turned it off.
That feature was at least looking to protect users, though some other security features seemed entirely designed to protect Microsoft’s chums in the entertainment industry. For example, an overly complicated and likely-to-fail HDCP protected