Where Vista Fails

Paul Thurotte has just completed his five part review of the latest beta release of Windows Vista, build 5308, the first “feature complete” release of Vista to reviewers.

Through the first four parts of the review (1, 2, 3, 4), Paul described what seemed like some pretty exciting stuff that he was seeing in Vista for the first time:

  • Expanded driver coverage
  • A system he could actually use for day-to-day tasks
  • Improved Install
  • New Applications
  • New Features (Calender, Photo Gallery, Defender, etc)

After finishing part 4, I was beginning to think that maybe Microsoft was finally on the road to producing a usable operating system to replace XP, that featured some actual improvements to the user experience.

And then Paul goes and rips them a new one with Part 5. Considering that this piece was written by a technical writer/reviewer who has a history of enthusiastically supporting Microsoft and their products, what Paul writes is even more of a shocker.

Some choice quotes:

Shame on you, Microsoft. Shame on you, but not just for not doing better. We expect you to copy Apple, just as Apple (and Linux) in its turn copies you. But we do not and should not expect to be promised the world, only to be given a warmed over copy of Mac OS X Tiger in return. Windows Vista is a disappointment. There is no way to sugarcoat that very real truth.


The bad news, then, is that UAP (User Account Protection) is a sad, sad joke. It’s the most annoying feature that Microsoft has ever added to any software product, and yes, that includes that ridiculous Clippy character from older Office versions. The problem with UAP is that it throws up an unbelievable number of warning dialogs for even the simplest of tasks. That these dialogs pop up repeatedly for the same action would be comical if it weren’t so amazingly frustrating. It would be hilarious if it weren’t going to affect hundreds of millions of people in a few short months. It is, in fact, almost criminal in its insidiousness.


In Windows Vista, Microsoft has broken Media Center. It’s a horrid update to a wonderful bit of software, an ugly stepchild of beautiful parents. It’s so bad, I don’t even know where to start. But I’ll try.

And on and on and on. I urge you to read the entire essay, it is worth it. Paul describes the general and specific areas where Microsoft has failed so far in their handling of Windows Vista, its ever changing feature set, broken promises and bad user interface design. Heck, he even calls out Bill for his part in the debacle that is also known as Vista:

Sadly, Gates, too, is part of the Bad Microsoft, a vestige of the past who should have had the class to either formally step down from the company or at least play just an honorary role, not step up his involvement and get his hands dirty with the next Windows version. If blame is to be assessed, we must start with Gates. He has guided–or, through lack of leadership–failed to guide the development of Microsoft’s most prized asset. He has driven it into the ground.

This is a wakeup call if I have ever seen one. Hopefully someone over there is listening.