This post may get a little off-topic at times, so please bear with me!
First off: I have been using Windows Vista Home Premium (WVHP) for a little over a year now, and I hate it! (I'm sorry, but that is just the way I feel.)
Some of your comments are very interesting, but the list was so long, I didn't really have the time to read it in full.
Can I just also say that I also have Windows XP Home Edition on my Dell XPS 720 home tower PC in a dual-boot setup with Vista, so I can at least still run software in XP that doesn't like Vista! My 750 MB FireWire Zip drive, for example, is definitely not Vista-compatible, so I have no choice but to use it in XP!
Please note: all of these comments are my own, based on my experience of Windows XP and Vista!
You will see a lot of references to Amigas in my post also. Sorry about this, but Amigas were the computers that I grew up with in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and they had a lot of unique technologies that even now modern PCs cannot match! PCs have a lot to learn from Amigas in my view!
Some of your comments I would like to add (or expand on) for Windows 7 (and Vista), are the following:
1. One of my biggest complaints about Windows Vista and XP, is that the 32-bit versions only recognise up to 2.5 GB of RAM out of the 4 GB my Dell machine has! I paid £2,424.00 (including 17.5% VAT) for my Dell XPS 720 PC in the UK back in 2007, and now I find I cannot take full advantage of the 4 GB of RAM I paid for, unless I upgrade to a 64-bit version of Vista or XP (both of which are very expensive!). Before you ask, my Dell system does have a full 64-bit CPU, a 3 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme, which, by the way, only works in 32-bit mode with my two 32-bit OSs! I do, however, have a full 64-bit motherboard by NVIDIA, so my only missing link is the 64-bit OS to use 4 GB of RAM! (In fact, my Dell machine can go up to 8 GB of RAM if need be, but again that will only work with a 64-bit OS!).
2. Only when Vista SP1 came out, did the System Info dialogue box correctly say I had 4 GB of RAM! About time Microsoft! Before SP1, the System Info dialogue box said I only had 2.5 GB of RAM out of my 4 GB! What the hell was going on?! When I first saw this, I checked my BIOS again, which said I had 4 GB of RAM, so I knew it was not a RAM fault! )
What would make more sense is if a 32-bit OS could see up to 4 GB of RAM and no more! I can understand this, but the fact that you cannot even go beyond 2.5 GB, or even 3.25 GB (depending on how your system is set up) is plain wrong, and, I might add, false advertising by Dell and other PC companies like them! OK, Dell do put the fact you "cannot use 4 GB of RAM unless you have 64-bit-everything" in the small print of their XPS Web site, but in the smallest font possible, which miffs us guys who run their PCs in high-res! So not everyone would notice this, unless they set their Web browser text zoom settings to a higher level -- something that you couldn't do in older IE versions! But then along comes the new Web browser Opera that lets you enlarge almost any text, with the exception of that in a Flash page. The lack of the ability to enlarge Flash page text is also very annoying, and even Opera cannot get around that one (at least not yet!).
I know 64-bit OSs are better, but you cannot run all your older software with them! Remember the time Amigas went from 16-bit Motorola 68000 CPUs to 32-bit 68020s, 68030s and 68040s in the 1990s? Thousands of games (and especially demos) stopped working, as they did not like the 32-bit CPUs and later 32-bit custom chips! Although I never had a 32-bit Amiga, I don't want to follow 32-bit Amiga owners with the similar problems with a 64-bit OS and using the Intel CPU in full 64-bit mode on my Dell PC! Do you agree with all this at all?
3. I have another theory as to why WVHP can only see and use 2.5 GB of RAM: could PCI Express on my Dell PC be "stealing" (RAM-raiding?) the extra 1.5 GB for its own use? I wonder this because my graphics card RAM is listed as having 1.2 GB "shared memory", in addition to the 512 MB of on-board VRAM of my two NVIDIA 8600 GTS graphics cards! Just an idea!
4. The UAC (user account control) fiasco is the worst thing Microsoft have done in any Windows version in my view! OK, so it supposedly improves security, but it also miffs you by blanking your screen every time you want to do something as simple as changing the date and time and then having to give Vista permission to continue! It drives me nuts! It's got so annoying, that I have actually switched UAC off permanently for the time being (until I reinstall my messed-up copy of Vista anyway. Even then, I may still leave the feature switched off.) Did you know you can sometimes even be denied access to copy, move or delete files and folders on your own (non-system) hard drives with UAC switched on with WVHP, and then you have to start messing around with file and folder permissions to regain access? What the hell?! I can understand this in a business PC network, where you want to restrict access to certain files on the office server (for example), but non-networked home PC users should not have to get involved with all this rubbish! It's far too complicated! With XP only the Professional edition dealt with file permissions etc! As for UAC in general, XP Home and Pro Edition never did all this rubbish! I'm sorry, but this is how I feel about UAC!
(My next few points concern USB indirectly, so I have put them all together. Will Microsoft address my concerns in points 6 and 7 in Windows 7 [or even in Vista SP2?]. I don't think so!).
5. At least you can now switch AutoPlay off for CDs and DVDs and other removable media permanently in Vista! You could not do this at all in XP -- you had to hold down the Shift key every time you wanted to bypass AutoPlay when you inserted a CD, DVD or plugged in any USB Flash memory keys (UFMKs) for example! This was also something else very annoying! I mean, every time you wanted to insert a UFMK just to check a single file, Windows would ask you what you wanted to do with the drive if you forgot to hold down the Shift key! Again, I have AutoPlay switched off permanently in Vista now! This is also good from a security point of view. What if you plugged in a UFMK that (unknown to you) had a virus and that virus ran automatically as soon as you plugged the UFMK in? Its doesn't bear thinking about!
6. When you plug in a UFMK, what is all this rubbish about Vista insisting on checking it for errors each time it is plugged in? XP
never did this! Some people told me it was something to do with UFMKs that had ReadyBoost technology built in, but I can tell you that the message
even comes up with older non-ReadyBoost UFMKs! If you say no to check for errors, you can usually get away with using the UFMK OK. But if you choose to get Vista to check for errors, you
may run into problems later on, so don't do it!
And yes, I agree about the trouble with unplugging UFMKs sometimes! You know you have shut down any applications that the UFMK was using, which includes any open file windows for the UFMK too, and then Windows XP or Vista still says "cannot stop the device" (or words to that effect) when you try to "stop" it before unplugging! In fact, I have set all my UFMK options to "optimize for quick removal" in XP and Vista, so I can just unplug the drive when I have finished using it! If USB is truly "hot plug", you should be able to unplug a UFMK straight after you have finished using it, not tell Windows first, via "Safely Remove Hardware!". And you should certainly not have to reboot your PC, just so that you can unplug the UFMK OK! This just wastes time! Again, this is just the way I feel about USB!
7. Why is it that, when you have plugged something into a USB socket, (for example a UFMK), and then you decide to plug that device into a different USB socket, the installation process has to be done all over again? Not my idea of Plug and Play! A USB socket is a USB socket isn't it? Once the device drivers have been installed through one USB socket, the device should just work when plugged into a different socket! I'm sorry, but this is the way I think USB should have worked from the start! The number of times I have installed a UFMK in one USB socket and then next time I accidentally plug the UFMK into another USB socket, and have to go through the entire driver installation process again, I have lost count!
8. I hear that Windows 7 is going to automatically install system updates without your permission first! What a stupid idea! I should have control over what updates I want to install or not, not Microsoft! What if Windows 7 automatically installs some update and that update messes your PC up beyond all recognition? From my PC experience with XP, it can happen! I install an update, and then something gets seriously screwed up! The only way around it is to completely reinstall XP from scratch, or to use my own cool computer term, a hard disk fugmoodle!
9. As regards Aero in Vista, I love the scheme, and fortunately have 2 fairly high-end graphics cards (my NVIDIA 8600 GTS, both with 256 MB of VRAM each.) So with that and my 64-bit CPU (but only 32-bit mode in WVHP), Aero operates fast enough for me!
10. Once you have set your folder views to how you like them, why does Vista have to automatically revert to the default when you open that window again?! This used to drive me nuts with all modern Windows versions from 95 to XP, and I really thought the bug was fixed with Vista! You change from thumbnail view to detail view for example, and then when you reopen the window, it goes back to thumbnail view again! Arrrrrhhhh! Damn you Microsoft!
11. On the same subject, when you display a folder full of picture files (JPEG, Bitmap etc), the "resolution" field should be displayed by default, without needing you to switch it on every time you open a folder full of pictures! This is applicable to WVHP and I assume XP too! Come on Microsoft, these two bugs I have outlined in points 10 and 11 (this one) should have been fixed from the start in Windows XP and Vista! Will the bugs be fixed in Windows 7?? I don't think so! )
12. Plug and Play (Plug and Pray more like) should mean what it says! In the future, I should be able to plug in, say, a sound card and then, when I switch my PC on, the card should be able to be used immediately, without needing to install any drivers first! This is exactly the way Amigas and Macs work! I remember plugging a MIDI interface into my Amiga 500 and immediately being able to use it with whatever synthesizers and MIDI software I had at the time! No drivers, complex setup, or anything like that! OK, you had to switch Amigas off before you could plug in or unplug any hardware, as USB and other hot-plug technologies such as FireWire did not exist in those days, but that is not the point!
13. When you enlarge Web pages in IE7, please Microsoft, next time make sure that you can click and highlight text correctly! I can do none of those things properly when I zoom text bigger in IE7. And sometimes hyperlinks either vanish, or clicking on them has no effect (I kid you not!). I am not sure whether or not Microsoft fixed the problems in IE8, since I have not installed it yet! All the more reason to use Opera, which lets you perform all of the above with no problems! Also, when text is enlarged in IE7, it gets cut off, making you horizontally scroll to see the whole text. Arrrrrah! Damn you Microsoft! Opera enlarges, while still keeping all text visible! Are you listening Microsoft? Some Web pages do not work properly in Opera, forcing me to use IE7 anyway! I cannot win can I? Enlarging Web pages in IE7 also messes up the formatting of the Web page. No such problems in Opera!
14. Why is Windows Vista still not proper multi-tasking?! If you get the new-style "hourglass" icon, it means you cannot do anything else until Vista or another application has finished its job! That is not true multi-tasking in my view! Why cannot Microsoft get the entire multi-tasking thing right? Even Amigas could not multi-task properly in some circumstances, which I won't go into!
15. Windows XP or Vista should not crash if you perform a series of steps in quick sucession! For example, I tend to open a file and then very quickly minimize a window and then open another application, as I am sure millions of other PC users do. In my experience, Windows can sometimes crash if you try to do all this! Windows 95 was notorious for this, if I remember correctly! And I can remember with early versions of Workbench (1.2), on my Amiga 500, something as simple as closing a single window would cause the system to crash! This was inexcusable! Fortunately, when Workbench 1.3 came out, Amigas were much more stable and very rarely crashed! )
16. If Windows Vista is really messed up (which it is in my case at the moment) even trying to access your memory cards causes a crash! (I am lucky enough to have built-in memory card readers inside both my Dell XPS 720 PC and Dell 2407WFP 24" TFT LCD widescreen colour monitor.) Will this problem of drivers messing up be fixed in Windows 7 I wonder?
17. Why is Bluetooth so damned hard to set up and get to work properly on both XP and Vista? You would think that Bluetooth would be one of the
easiest things to set up on a palmtop and desktop PC for example, but it's quite the opposite! When I had trouble trying to get my old HP iPaq 5550 palmtop PC to communicate with my old Dell Dimension 8200 tower PC via an external Belkin USB Bluetooth
adapter, I had massive problems! At one point, I was on the Internet forums for
hours trying to find a solution! Again, this was not Plug and Play! Even with my XPS 720 built-in Bluetooth hardware that I use with my new iPaq 214, it's still not that easy to set up and get to work correctly first time!
18. Windows Vista Live Search. Is this a joke or what? Arrrrrahh! Bring back Search from Windows XP Microsoft! For example, if you search for a file while you are in the root folder of a newly-created DVD+R and look for the file from the search box at the top of the window of the DVD+R, the file will not be found, even though I know it is there! Yet if I search from the My Computer window, the file will always be found! If I search for a file from the search box with the root folder of read-write media, such as a UFMK, again the file will be found with no problems! What the hell is going on? I hope all this rubbish will be fixed in Windows 7 (or even in Vista SP2, which I have yet to install!).
In Windows XP, you could choose to search for certain file types (such as pictures, music or video) or all file types and you could also include subfolders in the search, or just specify a single folder to search in. You can do none of this with the new Vista Live Search! Oh, you cannot even choose the Search option from the Start menu in Vista either! This was one of my first shocks when I moved from Windows XP to Vista!
19. Sometimes, when you switch off the check box "store and display a list of recently opened files", in the Privacy section of your Start menu options in WVHP, the next time you go back into the same dialogue box, the check box has been switched on again! This is a very annoying bug that should have been fixed in Vista from the start! The problem does not always happen, but when it does, sometimes you have to go into the dialogue box and switch the check box off several times, before you can get it to work properly! So far, the bug does not rear its ugly head when you switch off the check box "store and display a list of recently opened programs"!
And by the way this is the only way to clear your recently opened applications and documents lists in your Start menu. With XP it was so much easier -- just click once on a single button for either option! As it is with Vista, if you want your recent applications and documents lists back, you have to get back into your Start menu options and switch the check boxes back on again (unless anyone knows of a quicker way!). )
Sorry about this long rant about Windows Vista and XP, but please let me know what you think about my comments!
Alastair C Parker
I have been a home PC user since 1994. My first PC in that year was a Dell OptiPlex 433/MX with a 33 MHz Intel 80486DX CPU, 8 MB RAM, MS-DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1! The machine did not even have a sound card or CD-ROM drive!