Mi­crosoft Vista

From the drawer marked ‘Mark’s un­printed re­views’. It’s the last is­sue, right?

Micro Mart - - Reviews -

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…

IDETAILS

• 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

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