Microsoft Windows Vista and Paranoia

There is nothing particularly new in this article Forget about the WGA! 20+ Windows Vista Features and Services Harvest User Data for Microsoft – From your machine! – Softpedia, but it was referenced on a blog post I came read this evening. I few thoughts came to mind:

  1. From what I have seen of the various services which collect information, most seem to be collecting information to improve the OS, adapt to threats, or protect the intellectual property contained within the software (I am not arguing for or against the IP protection, but if you installed the OS, you accepted the EULA, and are bound by it – no one forced you to do so).
  2. Despite the deep paranoia of the various conspiracy theorists, Microsoft really has little use for most of your personal information, and it is not really worth the time or effort to collect it. You are not that important.
  3. Unless you are doing something illegal, none of the information collected is a threat to you.
  4. It is interesting and ironic that a site posting this article to help protect all of us from evil Microsoft collecting our information, requires you to register and provide your eMail address in order to post a comment.
  5. That in a world where much of our personal information, communications, and movement is tracked in great detail (and with questionable legality) that people can get this excited about anything Microsoft might be collecting! 

Is Vista as bad as they say?

Over the last few months (or the last year or more), it has become extremely fashionable to beat up on Vista. Heck, it is a great way to generate hits on you site or blog, maybe get Dugg, whether you have anything useful to say or not. I am talking about posts like this, or this, or this whole blog.

Personally, I run Vista on several machines, and have few problems which were not related to the failure of third parties to provide updated drivers, or updated versions of software for Vista (sometimes makes me wonder if there has been a conspiracy on the part of other vendors to purposely sabotage Vista – but it is more likely just not bothering to provide what customers pay for). I also still run XP on a couple of boxes, and Win2K3. On my main development box, I also run a number of operating systems in VMWare, including WinXP, Win 2K3, Fedora, Ubuntu, and several “minimalist” Linux distros for playing around with.

An unfortunate fact of life is that all operating systems available right now suck, at least in some aspect or another. Linux suffers from many driver limitations (though this is getting better), and a wannabe user interface that spends far too much time trying to look like Windows, while missing the point of usability altogether. Windows (all versions) suffer from security issues, and from performance and stability issues inherent in trying to be all things to all people. I will not comment on Mac OSX, because I have not run it. It is also kind of irrelevant, since I cannot run it unless I buy Apple’s hardware.

Vista has its own usability issues. Some that are pointed out are valid. The UAC implementation is moronic. The UI path you have to follow to connect to a wireless network is annoying. Here is one I discovered today – disk defragmentation. When you defragment you hard drive you get this useful dialog:

defrag

Isn’t that helpful? No progress indication. No estimated time to completion. Just a statement that it could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Gee, thanks.

The problem is, this kind of thing is not just a problem in Vista, or Windows in general. It is pervasive in all operating systems, and almost all software written to run on them. Most software is filled with minor little usability gaps like this.

So stop beating up on Vista (unless you need the traffic), and start thinking about how to make the whole situation better.

Snipping Tool in Vista

This is a nice post about the Snipping Tool in Vista. I really, really liked the design of the snipping tool that was pat of the Tablet PC Experience Pack on Windows XP. Unfortunately, I cannot show a picture, because I am not running Windows XP anywhere, but the UI while in snipping mode was very nice, with a semi-circular menu docked to the bottom of the sceen with you snipping options.

Oh well – nice post anyway.